Reviewers and industry wonks opine all the time about the “best” product in a category, but what happens when you pack them all in a room and force them to hash it out? We just found out. A jury composed of professional TV reviewers, certified calibrators, and video enthusiasts convened over the past two days in New York City to crown a “King of TV” for 2016.
When the ballots were counted, LG’s Signature G6 OLED TV won in a landslide. This marks the third year in a row that LG’s OLED took the title. Competing with the 65-inch LG G6 (OLED65G6P) were the 75-inch Sony X940D (XBR75X940D), 78-inch Samsung KS9800 (UN78KS9800), and the 65-inch Vizio Reference Series (RS65-B2).
Serving as keynote speaker and master of ceremonies was Joel Silver, President and Founder of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF). He spoke in depth about emerging High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Color Gamut (WCG) as well as measurement techniques and standards. Lie Neikirk of Reviewed.com and Caleb Denison (yours truly) from Digital Trends both appeared as guest speakers, and chose not to cast votes.
Over the course of multiple four-hour sessions, roughly 80 total participants pored over test patterns, movie clips and measurements, rated the televisions on a scale of 1 to 10 for black quality, perceived contrast, color accuracy, moving resolution, off-axis performance, screen uniformity, HDR/WCG, and overall day and night performance. While each display had its own strengths and weaknesses, once numbers were added up, the G6 OLED came in with the highest overall score, averaging a commanding 8.9 on a 10-point scale.
Sony came in at second place with an 8.0 average, Samsung third at 7.3, and Vizio fourth at 6.9. Looking at the summed scores, we see LG was the only TV to score in the 9-point range, with a total of six 9-point scores out of nine categories.
|Moving resolution (sharpness)||8.0||7.2||7.8||6.9|
|Overall day (high ambient light)||8.3||8.1||8.7||7.1|
|Overall night (low ambient light)||9.4||7.6||8.2||6.8|
To provide perspective, Robert Zohn, owner of Value Electronics in Scarsdale, NY, and a presenter and organizer of the shootout, brought his own late-model Pioneer Kuro, once regarded as the gold standard in television, for comparison. When the playing field was leveled to the Kuro’s level — 1080p HD resolution and Rec. 709 color space — the Kuro held up fairly well. However, once the televisions moved to producing DCI/P3 color and High Dynamic Range within the Ultra HD standard, the revered Kuro surely showed its age.
Related: 4K Ultra HD Buying Guide
In past years, some critics have argued that 4K resolution on its own doesn’t present a meaningful upgrade over 1080P. This year, attendees debated the merits of HDR and WCG, and whether they represented a quantum leap forward in television performance. The general consensus seemed to be that picture quality improvements brought about by HDR and WCG are plainly obvious and quite significant.
Today’s top-tier TVs are the best we’ve ever seen.
As Lee Neikirk pointed out during his presentation at the event, not all HDR televisions are created equal. While all of the flagship televisions evaluated during the shootout are at the pinnacle of HDR/WCG performance, many mid-tier TVs are not powerful enough to bring about meaningful improvements, potentially damaging the public’s perception of these new display technologies. Many participants agreed that something beyond the UHD Alliance’s present “UHD Premium” certification may be needed to ensure the importance of HDR/WCG as components of Ultra HD aren’t diluted.
Sony won the only category not dominated by LG at the shootout, ranking as the best TV for daytime viewing. Other considerations such as ease of use, smart TV platform, remote control operability, and other usability aspects may factor into future competitions.
While there can be only one winner, it was clear all the participants made a very strong showing. And if there were ever any doubt, the Kuro comparison silenced it: Today’s top-tier TVs are the best we’ve ever seen.