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Review: LG OLED88Z9PLA – 8K Ultra HD OLED television

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The time has come, LG is also entering the 8K battle scene, with an LCD model and an OLED model. The OLED model is available in 88 inch format, and the LCD version is available in 75 inch format. The Korean manufacturer also clearly signals that large screens are the natural habitat from before 8K. How do the two devices perform? We take a comprehensive look at the OLED88Z9PLA OLED TV, and also include the most important aspects of the 75SM9900PLA LCD TV.

LG OLED88Z9PLA – specifications

  • Model: OLED88Z9PLA
  • What: Ultra HD 8K OLED TV
  • Screen format: 88 inch (224 cm), flat
  • Connections: 4x HDMI (v2.1, eARC, ALLM, VRR, HFR), 1x optical digital out, 3x USB, 1x headphones, 3x antenna, Bluetooth, WiSA, AirPlay 2 [19659004] Extras: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, Technicolor, WiFi (802.11ac) built-in, WebOS 4.5, USB / DLNA media player, dual DVB-T2 / C / S2, single CI + slot, auto calibration
  • Dimensions: 1,961 x 1,456 x 281 mm (incl. base)
  • Weight: 102.0 kg (incl. base)
  • Consumption: 370 / 0.5 watt (Energy rating B)
  • List price: 29,999 euros

LG 75SM9900PLA – specifications

  • Model: 75SM9900PLA
  • What: Ultra HD 8K LCD LED TV
  • Screen size: 75 inch (191 cm), flat
  • Connections: 4x HDMI (v2.1, eARC, ALLM, VRR, HFR), 1x optical di off, 3x USB, 1x headphones, 3x antenna, Bluetooth, WiSA, AirPlay 2
  • Extras: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, Technicolor, WiFi (802.11ac) built-in, WebOS 4.5, USB / DLNA media player, dual DVB -T2 / C / S2, single CI + slot, auto calibration
  • Dimensions: 1,677 x 1,037 x 384 mm (incl. foot)
  • Weight: 42.0 kg (incl. foot)
  • Consumption: 272 / 0.5 watt (Energy rating B)
  • List price: 5,499 euros

A complete overview of all OLED models that LG put on the market in 2019, you'll find in the 2019 LG OLED TV line-up and 2019 LCD LED TV line-up . Here you will also find the complete specifications per model. You can read more about the 8K models in this article

The LG test lab is hidden in an industrial area of ​​Nuremberg. LG carries out competitive tests of televisions, but also of all kinds of white goods. It is our destination for a full day of test work, primarily because the number of available 8K OLED samples is fairly limited, but also because transporting and setting up 75 and 88 inches is a logistical challenge.

LG OLED88Z9PLA and 75SM9900PLA – Design

The two devices can hardly differ in terms of design. The 75 inch LCD (75SM9900PLA) was given a fairly typical LG design. The dark plastic frame has a very narrow edge, but gives the TV a somewhat cheap appearance. We also saw the sickle-shaped silver-colored base on the SM90 .

The OLED88Z9PLA looks a lot more impressive with its “Artistic Sculpture” design. The OLED screen is twice as thick (8 mm) as we are used to, but you will not notice it on the giant 88 inch size. A black metal ribbon around the screen protects it against a knock. But it is especially the foot that catches the eye.

We better call it furniture. A metal frame, 34 cm high, as wide as the TV (196 cm) and 22 cm deep, made of brushed aluminum provides a solid base. It is not a cupboard, but a completely open frame.

Those who want to place their sources can do so at the bottom of the frame, but that is not really neat and stylish. The entire set-up weighs a hefty 102 kg. It is not possible to mount the device on the wall. The power cable is connected to the furniture, but all connections are still on the device. A small hatch is provided to route the cables away, but you cannot really hide them.

LG OLED88Z9PLA and 75SM9900PLA – Connections

Both devices use the same connections, and they are identical to the other OLED models. You get four HDMI connections, version 2.1. They provide the full HDMI 2.1 bandwidth, and are equipped with eARC, VRR, ALLM and HFR (for 4K and 2K, possibly also on 8K in the future). This way you can easily deliver 4K or 8K content.

LG OLED88Z9PLA and 75SM9900PLA – The Upgrader Box

But you can also deliver 8K content via USB or streaming, which means LG is one step further than its competitors . They use an “upgrader box” for this. A small box with a USB connection and HDMI output. Content that is supplied via USB or streaming, goes via the USB connection to the upgrader box, where it is decoded and brought back to the TV via the HDMI connection. The upgrade box makes it possible to decode 8K content in HEVC, AV1 or VP9. For streaming, the app must of course also be adjusted, for example, there is already 8K YouTube content, but the app does not yet make it accessible. Hopefully this will change in the future.

A comment that often pops up is that 8K content will probably use a new codec in the future (eg H.266 or the successor to AV1, read more [19659044] here ). The upgrader box could also offer a solution for this. Possibly LG can offer a new codec via firmware. But that is not really certain.

A final consideration; the upgrader box offers no solution for broadcast content. Now live 8K TV is a long way in the future, but it is good to know that none of the current 8K TVs on the market can receive 8K through its internal TV tuners. The upgrader box will be available from December, and is free for existing and new customers.

LG OLED88Z9PLA and 75SM9900PLA – Ease of use and smart TV

The OLED88Z9PLA and 75SM9900PLA televisions are both equipped with WebOS 4.5. You can read all the possibilities of this smart TV system in our webOS overview article .

WebOS 4.5 now also supports Apple Airplay 2 and Apple HomeKit. For smart speech support you can count on the Google Assistant, although it is still waiting for full Dutch support for ThinQ AI.

The OLED88Z9PLA, as a model from the Signature series, received a new luxury remote . It is completely made of light metal, with clearly noticeable keys that are easy to press. The layout is slightly different than on the standard remote (as it is with the SM99), but that does not provide a really different user experience. On this luxury version, the playback keys and the shortcut key for Rakuten TV are missing. (shown below on the regular remote.)

LG OLED88Z9PLA – Image processing

In terms of image quality, we look extensively at the 88-inch OLED TV. Later in the review we briefly discuss the performance of the 75-inch LCD TV.

Both the Z9 and SM99 are equipped with the Alpha 9 Gen2 8K. That only differs from the Alpha 9 Gen2 that you find in the 4K devices in terms of noise reduction, where it performs six steps instead of four. Since upscaling has to create a lot of extra pixels on an 8K screen, good noise reduction is important. The results are excellent across the board, and can be compared to, for example, the C9 . The upscaling delivers beautiful images, especially if you start with 4K content. But even with SD content such as DVD, the result is very good, the image is of course much softer because of less detail. On an 88 inch screen you cannot hide that you are looking at low quality, but it is workable.

Soft banding effects can eliminate the LG, but some stronger banding problems such as in our Game Of Thrones scene, this 8K screen also remains a problem. Leave 'noise reduction', 'MPEG noise reduction' and 'smooth gradations' at least on the minimum position for the best effect.

Motion sharpness is fine, just like on other OLED screens, choose TruMotion for sure the 'Clear' position if you want optimum detail. 'Smooth' virtually eliminates all shocks in the image, but can cause some artifacts.

Main settings OLED88Z9PLA

In our article about professional calibration of a TV you can read all about the possibilities to achieve the best image settings with a professional. If you want to get started yourself, go through our home cinema information guide . Here you will find an explanation of the most important image settings and tips for setting up your TV.

General Advanced operation Image Options
Image Mode: Cinema
Aspect Ratio Setting: Original / Scan: On
Energy saving: Off
AI Image: On
OLED Light: 80
Brightness: 50
Contrast: 85
Sharpness: 10
Color: 50
Tint: 0 [19659072] Dynamic Contrast: Off
Dynamic Tone Mapping: Off / On
Super Resolution: Low
Color Range: Auto
Gamma: 2.2 / BT.1886
White Balance: Warm2
Maximum Brightness: Off
Color filter: Off
Noise reduction: Low
MPEG noise reduction: Low
Smooth Gradation: Low
Black level: Automatic
Real Cinema: On
Motion Eye Care: Off
TruMotion: Clear (or adapted)

Image quality OLED88Z9PLA

Het 8K [19659026] screen of the OLED88Z9PLA uses a pixel structure that we have not seen yet, but of course it remains a standard RGBW-OLED panel. The uniformity was pretty good, although a little striping was visible on the right side of the image in the darkest tones. We find that a good result for an 88 inch screen.

The calibration of the “Cinema” image mode was exemplary. The screen delivers a lot of black detail, but hides a little bit of shadow nuance compared to the best 4K competitors. The gray scale and color reproduction are almost perfect, and it should not come as a surprise that the images are absolutely fantastic.

HDR OLED88Z9PLA

When we look at the HDR results it quickly becomes apparent that here too 8K-oled performs almost identically as its 4K brothers. LG supports HLG, HDR10, Dolby Vision and the relatively unknown Technicolor. Support for HDR10 + remains out, and that is one of the few downsides on this device. LG claims that with its built-in 'dynamic tonemapping' it can imitate the result of HDR10 + very well, but deriving metadata in real-time can never give the same result.

The screen delivers a maximum brightness of 790 nits on a 10% window, and about 145 nits on a completely white screen. The color range is 70% rec2020 and 96% DCI-P3. Both results are almost identical to those of the C9.

The Cinema preset is perfectly calibrated and follows the required brightness curve perfectly. Tonemapping rolls the brightness slightly above 400 nits to the maximum of the screen. Just like on the C9, all white detail is visible, also with different metadata.

Gaming, Reflections, Viewing Angle OLED88Z9PLA

The viewing angle of the OLED screen is excellent, and reflections are properly prevented. In that respect the OLED88Z9PLA seems to score the same as other OLEDs.

In the standard image modes, the lag is quite high, 159 ms. In gaming mode, however, the lag drops to 17.7 ms, the same excellent result that we have already seen on LG’s 4K OLED TVs. The TV also supports ALLM, VRR and HFR so that it is an excellent choice for gamers, and seems to be ready for next gen consoles.

Sound quality OLED88Z9PLA

Contrary to what you might expect, there are no speakers in the furniture built-in. The speakers are indeed in the device, facing downwards. Openings in the furniture and an elongated fin send the sound from the downfiring speakers to the viewer.

With 80 watts in a 4.2 channel setup we expect a solid sound and the Z9 does not disappoint. Our test fragments sound full and pleasant and you can control the volume very high (up to 95) without making any real upset audible. From sharp metal to modest classical, from dialogue to solid film soundtrack, the Z9 delivers very good results. What is missing is a really rolling bass. It is strikingly absent in certain fragments. For most music and movies you will not experience it as a loss, but perhaps LG should have considered to provide furniture with some speakers.

Those who want to boost the sound can of course always opt for WiSA speakers. LG supports this protocol for wireless sound, so you can provide the TV with full surround sound without a lot of cables.

LG 75SM9900PLA – 8K LCD TV

The 75SM9900PLA naturally delivers the same performance as the Z9 when it comes to image processing, both devices use the same processor. We noticed that the IPS screen is a bit more forgiving when it comes to banding problems.

The calibration is good, and the screen reached 1,045 nits peak on a 10% window and 88% DCI-P3. Those are great basic results. The real difference is in the contrast, and the SM99 disappoints. The screen has its own ANSI contrast of around 650: 1, and that is weak. The background lighting is of the Full Array local dimming type, but uses only 8 × 15 zones. The contrast then improves to around 1,400: 1. But that low number of zones combined with the weak contrast often yields visible segment boundaries, such as visible in this (overexposed) photo.

At the time of this review, LG received a price of 5,499 euros to hear. With that, the device is actually very close to the market price of the 75Q950R, which scores significantly better on contrast and offers 480 zones. In short, since 8K is really still a premium segment, we find it very difficult to justify the choice for 75SM9900PLA, unless the price falls sharply.

LG OLED88Z9PLA – Conclusion

The price of this 88 inch giant, there we can be clear about that. The OLED88Z9PLA falls into the category “if you have to ask how expensive it is, then it is not for you”. The list of negatives is very short. LG still doesn't support HDR10 + that's a shame. And it is still waiting for Dutch support for ThinQ AI. If we wanted to vitte, we would have expected slightly better basses from the sturdy furniture, but the sound is really good.

The image on this 8K OLED is absolutely impressive. Intense contrast, rich colors and excellent detail together with the large screen provide a fantastic experience. You quickly forget that you only get limited benefit from the real 8K detail as long as there is no 8K content. The LG delivers thanks to the Upgrader box and HDMI 2.1 connections with a full featureset also a reasonable path to the future. It always remains to be seen whether he can indeed support the future codecs, but in that respect he certainly has a head start on the competitors. Just like the Sony ZG9 and the Samsung Q950R, the LG Z9 is more a signboard of what the future offers, because for the average consumer the message remains that you should wait a few years. If the price is not an obstacle, then this OLED88Z9PLA is really a reference for those who want a large 8K image.

Cons

  • Price
  • No HDR10 +
  • ThinQ AI not yet fully usable in Dutch [19659105] Advantages
    • Upgrader box
    • Image processing
    • Color rendering
    • Contrast, black value
    • Excellent HDR images
    • HDMI2.1 with a large feature set

Homecinema Magazine [194590113] Rating ] 9.5 10 Eric Beeckmans product

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