LG OLED G7 (OLED65G7)

Tech Radar

In LG’s 2017 TV range, the Signature Series G7 OLED is as good as it gets. The ‘wallpaper’ W7 may be the brand’s poster boy, but those looking for a more traditional top-end telly will find the G7 a far more realistic proposition.

Available in 65- and 77-inch screen sizes coming in at $6,999 (£6,499, AU$9,099) and $9,999 (£19,999, about AU$12,699), respectively, the LG G7 OLED sits high above the South Korean manufacturer’s B7, E7 and C7 models.

But, given that the G7 has the same panel and picture processing engine as its cheaper siblings, it will have to go some ways to justify its hefty price tag.

Design

LG describes the design of the G7 as ‘picture on glass’ – and that’s pretty much exactly what you get. Minimalism is the name of the game when it comes to OLED, after all. That said, the panel is bonded to a glass backing; tuner and electronics are relegated to a slim box on the rear and in the pedestal base.

From the front, there’s nothing to distract. The display area is all picture. The pedestal can be redeployed to the rear in order to enable wall-mounting. 

The anodized finish is stunning, and looks great when the light catches it.  The integrated sound bar with its radiator-style grille, is equally dramatic.

Inputs run along the rear of the TV pedestal. There are four HDMIs, all HDCP 2.2 compliant, as well as 3 USB inputs (one a fast v3.0 for timeshifting onto a connected USB HDD), Ethernet and an optical digital output. There’s also an RS232 port for system control, plus a CI slot. The set boasts two terrestrial Freeview tuners and two satellite inputs. Dual-band Wi-Fi is standard.

Rounding the package off are two remote controls, one a simplified pointer finished to match the screen cosmetics, the other the latest iteration of LG’s Magic Remote with scroll wheel, used to direct the onscreen cursor.

Design TL;DR: Ravishing picture-on-glass design with premium finish and integrated soundbar, make for a spectacular-looking TV.

Smart TV: LG webOS

LG’s webOS connected platform has seen a number of revisions, but none have changed the basic look and feel of the UI. Despite the fact that webOS is already in its 3.5 version, the familiar Launch Bar still offers quick access to apps, inputs and the set’s extensive feature set.

Like before, you can customize the long scrolling bar by rearranging the tiles to bring your favorites up front. If binging is your thing, then put Netflix at the head of the line. If you never use Now TV , relegate it to the back of the pack.

The set comes with a comprehensive selection of apps and streaming services. UK owners also get Freeview Play, which ensures all the main catch-up TV services are to hand. Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube, lead the rest. All stream in 4K when appropriate. There’s also a web browser, if you need it.

Main menu navigation is sprightly enough, although at times it can feel like you’re hip-deep in sub-menus.

Smart TV TL;DR: Lean yet powerful, LG’s webOS offers all the streaming apps and catch-up you’ll need without over-cluttering the experience. What’s more, it’s crash-free and stable (we’re looking at you, Android TV).

HD/SDR Performance

OLED is famously forgiving of most sources, so it’s no surprise to find that the set’s HD and SDR performance is extremely good. If you want your Blu-rays invigorated and HD channels optimized, the G7 doesn’t disappoint.

Profound black, a key attribute of OLED technology, makes everything look spectacular: Blade Runner The Final Cut (Blu-ray) opens with white credits on a black backdrop – here it’s truly black. There’s no differentiation between the letterbox aspect ratio bars and the movie itself. The extreme contrast also heightens the drama as we glide toward the Tyrell pyramid HQ. The close up of the lit structure is an extreme example of deep black, near-black detail and pinpricks of light. The presentation may be SDR but it’s completely dynamic.

These days, HD and HDR are no longer mutually exclusive. Star Trek Discovery (Netflix) is presented in Dolby Vision HDR, but the source resolution is 1080p. It’s the first example of this broadcasting hybrid we’ve seen, but it certainly won’t be the last. Thankfully, as a viewing experience, the combination looks spectacular. 

Star Trek: Discovery uses plenty of vibrant, creative lighting effects, tailor made for HDR presentation. Early episode ‘Context is for Kings’ opens with Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) in transit on board a shuttlecraft. The interior lighting glows bright, colors are vivid and the detail is high. You’d never guess the LG’s picture wasn’t native 4K.

That said, it’s worth noting that the G7’s handling of SDR content isn’t as effective as the object-based HDR remastering used by Sony, which still leads the field in naturalistic SDR-to-HDR conversion. Background uniformity, as you’d expect from an emissive display, however, is excellent. 

Motion handling can be an issue. Both the Smooth and Clear TruMotion modes suffer from overt interpolation artifacts, identified as smudges around moving objects. The best solution is probably the User TruMotion setting, which can be optimized for TV shows (try Dejudder 0, De-blur 8) or sports (Dejudder 4, Deblur 10) – or otherwise off completely. 

HD/SDR Performance TL;DR: 1080p HD doesn’t equate to visual compromise on this big screen. LG’s 10-bit OLED panel does a sublime job upscaling HD to 4K, while extreme contrast and color vibrancy keep things pretty.

4K/HDR Performance

Like the rest of the 7-Series OLEDs, the screen is certified Ultra HD premium, but that doesn’t tell the whole story: It’s both HDR10 and Dolby Vision compatible, with HLG broadcast support ready to go when content appears. 

There’s also Technicolour HDR in the wings, which will manifest itself as a viewing preset with a firmware update at some point. LG also employs its own Active HDR technology, although exactly what this contributes isn’t entirely clear. 

Fine detail and HDR dynamics are equally impressive … if you set the screen up right. To ensure absolute fidelity, ensure that the Just Scan setting is On rather than set to Auto in the Aspect ratio menu. Otherwise you could well encounter patterning over minuscule detail.

Image presets are comprised of Standard, Eco, Cinema, Sports, Game, HDR Effect, Vivid and ISF Bright room/Dark room modes. Standard is the best choice for everyday viewing in rooms with moderate ambient light. The set automatically upgrades presets for HDR content.  

Speaking of, HDR highlights are pleasingly bright. The screen tone maps content mastered at 1000 nits with barely any black level crushing. 

We measured peak luminance, with a 5 per cent window, at 735 cd/m2 (aka nits) on the Standard image preset. This is considerably brighter than 2016 LG OLEDs and close to our sweet spot for dynamic, non-fatiguing viewing. A Full field of SDR white, for comparison, was measured at 138 cd/m2.  

What does that all mean? Basically, the color space is wide, aided by relatively high peak brightness. This all adds up to some wonderful Ultra HD imagery.

The Netflix original Okja (4K Dolby Vision) is ripe with visual pleasures for this LG to exploit. For example, the detail held in the titular super-pig’s eyes, revealed in close up as his young keep whispers in his ear, is eerily realistic. The texture and nuance in the character’s hide is also remarkable.

The Dolby Vision HDR approach to Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Netflix) is rather more subtle, using street lights and sunlight to give a naturalistic look to this superhero drama. For the best results, keep Dynamic Contrast on Low and set Super Resolution Low or Medium.

4K/HDR Performance TL;DR: With punchy multi-flavored HDR, sumptuous fine detail and vibrant, wide color, the G7 OLED is a cracking UHD performer.

Sound

Sonically, the G7 OLED is a bit of a maestro. The integrated soundbar is fulsome and goes fittingly loud. Rather confusingly, LG describes it as a 4.2 channel system, although it never sounds anything other than stereophonic – the wall of sound it produces is the equal of most standalone low-to-midrange soundbars.

Intriguingly, there’s an integrated Dolby Atmos decoder onboard the G7, for use with sources that deliver Atmos in a Dolby Digital Plus container. 

At the moment that’s limited to a token offering from Netflix. To create anything useful from this, the bitstream needs to be streamed over HDMI ARC into a Dolby Atmos compatible sound system (an AV receiver is the obvious recommendation). Left for the TV to decode and deliver, it sounds no different to any other content, which is basically two-channel.

Sound Quality TL;DR: Thin screens typically warrant a sonic upgrade, but that’s not the case here. The integrated 60W sound system is a cut above the competition, however you'll need to upgrade to an Atmos AV receiver if you want to make the most of the built-in Dolby Atmos decoder.

Other panels to ponder…

There’s a surfeit of top TVs available at the high-end, so this LG faces stiff competition. Its biggest rival is probably the astonishing Sony A1 OLED . This innovative screen uses Acoustic Surface Technology (the screen radiates sound) to give audio a boost, and image quality is sensationally good, notably with uprated SDR content. It’s also Dolby Vision compatible. 

LG itself offers several TVs which undercut the G7 on price. If you don’t need the G7’s premium trappings and fancy soundbar, then LG’s B7 OLED and E7 OLED models both offer comparable image quality for a good deal less cash. 

Verdict

Viewing doesn’t get more lux than LG’s G7. Picture quality is undeniably impressive thanks to its pristine black level performance, a vibrant colour palette and effective HDR make for breathtaking viewing. The provision of Dolby Atmos is a bonus, although until Netflix ramps up its Atmos output, it’s of limited use, and you will need an exterior Atmos sound system to take full advantage.

Admittedly, LG’s cheaper OLED variants offer serious competition, as they're built around the same panel and image engine, while Sony’s A1 and Panasonic’s 4KPro TX-65EZ952B both edge ahead in some areas of image fidelity.  

With the G7, LG has produced a screen of unique beauty. As a celebration of UHD, this Signature Series set is utterly joyful.

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