LG UH950T Super UHD TV: Australian Review

Here at Gizmodo, we like OLED TVs. We really like OLED TVs. But OLED is still mostly a technology for the top end of town, and if you want to buy a TV with a slightly more reasonable price tag then your only legitimate option is an LED-backlit LCD. LG, the OLED kings, also make a bunch of LED TVs, and first amongst those is the UH950T: a LED TV with the very best colour-gamut-enhancing quantum dot tech, with a native 4K resolution, a choice of 55-inch or massive 65-inch panels, and support for a new high dynamic range tech called Dolby Vision. It's a few grand cheaper than our favourite TV, but it doesn't sacrifice much at all to get there.

What Is It?

The $3999 LG UH950T is a premium LED-backlit LCD television, available in the 65-inch screen size for $5999 and the 55-inch size for $3999 recommended retail prices. The 4K Super UHD UH950T is LG's only ColourPrime LCD TV for 2016, using a quantum dot LCD panel and LED backlight to extend the TV's colour gamut beyond that of regular LED-backlit LCDs, as well as being one amongst several LG Super UHD TVs that support Dolby Vision. The TV has a native 200Hz refresh rate, and uses backlight strobing to improve the performance of on-screen motion.

Update: LG's UH850T television also has ColourPrime quantum dot tech, and is a 60-inch model that sits in between the 55-inch and 65-inch UH950T in price.

From LG:

IPS 4K Quantum Display technology enhances colour reproduction. For example, ColourPrime creates vivid images with great depth and realism by magnifying the range of colours that can be displayed on the screen. Meanwhile the 10-bit processing capability gives the Super UHD 4K TVs the ability to render over one billion possible colours and allow viewers to experience a lifelike and impressive level of detail. Additionally, with the 4K Quantum Display, the picture remains constant across all viewing angles meaning viewers can sit anywhere in the room without experiencing image distortion.

Specifications
  • Screen Size: 55-, 65-inch
  • Screen Technology: Quantum Dot 'Super UHD' LCD, LED edge-lit
  • Smart TV: Yes (WebOS 3.0)
  • Connectivity: 3x HDMI 2.0a, 3x USB 3.0
  • Dimensions: 1455x896x283mm

With its nearly borderless design -- a 5mm-thick bezel around the LCD panel itself, and a similarly thick rounded aluminium strip around that -- the larger 65-inch UH950T is definitely a visually impressive screen, even when it's switched off. The stand is a single-piece, curved central one, and it makes a good home for the SH7 soundbar I tested this particular TV with. If you don't want an external speaker system, though, the UH950T has an integrated Harman/Kardon system with four drivers that actually do a pretty good job for skinny TV speakers.

And, like all of LG's new TVs for 2016, the UH950T runs LG's excellent and easy to understand WebOS 3.0 Smart TV interface. WebOS 3.0 uses LG's motion-sensitive, Nintendo Wiimote-esque Magic Motion Remote and uses that on-screen cursor to navigate through a tab-style interface that includes quick access to apps for Netflix, Stan, ABC iView, SBS On Demand, YouTube and a few other useful gadgets including a Web browser and built-in USB playback for downloaded media files including the new HEVC H.265 format and MKV video files.

The UH950T series' two TVs both have a native 4K Ultra HD resolution of 3840x2160 pixels, and support 60Hz refresh rates through the TV's three HDMI 2.0a ports, with 10-bit native colour and support for both the regular HDR10 standard of high dynamic range, and Dolby Vision for the super-luxe 12-bit version of HDR. Beyond that there are three USB 3.0 ports for downloaded media on a flash drive or hard drive, and all your usual legacy audio and video inputs and throughputs, as well as 802.11ac/n Wi-Fi, wired Ethernet and FreeviewPlus catch-up TV support. It even supports 3D, if you're the one person that still wants to watch it.

What's It Good At?

When it comes to getting good picture quality from a TV these days, you wouldn't think that an edge-lit LED/LCD panel would do a particularly good job. The technology has inherent compromises like a relatively rudimentary backlight control versus OLED, although it makes up for that with a higher maximum brightness. When you're watching a super-slim TV, its backlight has to work in overtime to pulse and light up individual sections of the screen dozens of times per second and display dark areas alongside light. But the UH950T uses every single trick in the LED book to make its picture the equal of the best screens out there, especially when you're watching super-detailed 4K video or even a high quality Blu-ray.

Straight out of the box in Standard picture mode, the LG UH950T actually looks quite filmic and understated in the way that it displays high quality video content, without excessive contrast, over-saturation of colours or oversharpening of edges. It's actually really nice and relaxing to watch, where most competitors TVs tend towards excessive contrast which destroys fine image detail. Upscaling is excellent across the board, turning DVD-quality YouTube video and live TV streams into a relatively detailed and not overly smoothed picture, too, which drastically widens the amount of content you can watch on the UH950T without destroying your eyeballs.

When you're watching an appropriately high resolution piece of content -- I tested the LG UH950T with a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player, as well as some high-bitrate streaming 4K from Netflix -- the ColourPrime UH950T looks incredibly detailed. 4K is one of those things you have to see to experience in the first place, and the improvements on one screen versus another are generally quite small, but with a high quality 2160p video file, like The Revenant or Mad Max: Fury Road on Ultra HD Blu-ray, or Daredevil on Netflix, the amount of detail that you can see in each individual frame of video -- optimised for colour and brightness and contrast as they are -- is a sight to behold.

And the crowning glory is the UH950T's support for Dolby Vision and HDR. Dolby Vision is -- for now -- the absolute cream of the crop in terms of high-res, high dynamic range video, with a native 12-bit mastering process versus HDR10's 10-bit mastering. That means 4096 steps of gradation in terms of brightness and colour (and therefore 68 billion colours) versus HDR10's 1024 steps (and one billion colours), and with the right video file, in a room with the right lighting, the amount of detail is just about as good as anything I've seen, including OLED. There's only a very small range of Dolby Vision content available in Australia at the moment -- a couple of Netflix series, basically -- but it's worth checking out if you have the chance.

What's It Not Good At?

The UH950T's big difference from the majority of other TVs out there from other brands like Samsung and Sony and Panasonic is that it supports Dolby Vision. Dolby Vision is technically a fantastic product, with four times the colour stepping and granularity of 'regular' HDR10 high dynamic range, but there just isn't a great deal of content out there that uses Dolby Vision. We watched the first season of Marco Polo in Dolby Vision as well as some trailers, and it is amazing, but if you buy the UH950T you'll have to wait for the content to catch up.

Visually, from a picture quality perspective, the only real complaint I have about the UH950T is the same complaint that I have with every other edge-lit LED TV. When you're on an otherwise completely black screen and you move LG's motion-sensitive Magic Remote around, you'll see a vertical strip of backlighting light up to accurately display the correct brightness for the on-screen cursor -- this is the compromise you make with the edge-lit LED lighting on slim LED TVs. It's not a problem during almost all viewing, but you'll notice it with bright areas on otherwise dark screens.

And similar to most other LED LCD screens -- edge-lit or otherwise -- the UH950T has a very small amount of motion blur when displaying fast-moving objects on an otherwise static background. Our classic example is a Formula 1 car moving around a track from a helicopter's overhead viewpoint, and the UH950T does a pretty good job in default settings and a slightly better one with the de-judder turned down a little, but you still won't get an absolutely perfect picture. This is one of the better LED TVs we've seen with regards to overall motion performance, to be fair.

Inherent to LCD is the fact that each pixel doesn't have its own backlighting, different to plasma and OLED. And that means the minimum screen brightness still has a little bit of luminance to it, which you'll notice if you're in an entirely dark room and the UH950T is not displaying a picture. It's not a huge deal, and the difference between almost-black and truly-black is a small one, but it's exponentially important if you're going to be watching movies in a cinematic, dark room.

Should You Buy It?

If you don't have the budget for an OLED TV -- and, let's be honest, most rational buyers don't -- then your only other choice is an LED TV. And LG's $3999 UH950T is one of the better ones out there. It has a price tag to match its quality and is LG's best LED, so you should be comparing it against Samsung's equally-priced 65-inch Series 8. It stands up to the challenge.

LG UH950T
90

Price: from $3999

Like
  • Excellent 4K detail for a LCD.
  • Dolby Vision support.
  • Picture modes aren't aggressive.
Don't Like
  • Very few Dolby Vision titles at the moment.
  • Minor backlight bloom in low lighting.
  • Minor motion blur during fast motion.

The big difference between the UH950T ColourPrime and its competitors is the addition of Dolby Vision support, although at the moment that's a difference that matters only on paper. If and when we see Ultra HD Blu-ray or streaming 4K video start to appear in Australia, this will be a significant differentiator, but for now it's limited to some -- frankly amazing -- demo content.

The biggest threat to LG's UH950T is from cheaper 4K LED TVs with HDR support, like LG's own UH770T and Sony's Bravia X8500D, both of which are $1000 less expensive and that bring the lion's share of picture quality improvements from high dynamic range and 4K video. Sony's TV, too, has the same quantum dot LED panel and backlighting that underpin's LG's ColourPrime promises.

So the UH950T sits in a complicated spot in the hierarchy of 2016 4K Ultra HD TVs -- it's significantly cheaper than the $7000 65-inch EF950T OLED, which makes it tempting as a good value purchase, but there are still-impressive screens for $1000 less again. If you want all the bells and whistles -- including Dolby Vision -- in a 4K TV, though, then you won't be disappointed with the LG UH950T.