LG Display, the sister company of LG Electronics, announced that the OLED panels used in the company’s TVs recently received the “Perfect Black” verification. The verification process was performed by the independent quality assurance lab UL Solutions and applies to LG OLED panels from 42 to 97 inches.
LG TVs were measured by UL Solutions in a “well-lit environment” similar to a “living room in broad daylight”. In this situation, black levels measured 0.15 nit — about 40% below the standard Perfect Black criterion of 0.24 nit, according to the company’s press release.
nothing more black
OLED TVs are among the best 4K TVs and they’ve long been known for their “infinite contrast,” a feature that LG has promoted since the first sets to use the technology were released. Anyone who has seen an OLED TV can confirm that blacks do indeed look perfectly black and remain so even when viewing images from a seat far from the center.
As for the measurements cited in the LG Display press release, once you dip below 1 nit any differences are basically moot. To the human eye, a black level of 0.24 nit and a black level of 0.15 nit will appear as a perfect black.
Given these minuscule differences, the main goal of LG’s verification process seems to be to prove that its OLED screens can maintain their incredibly deep black level and resulting infinite contrast in bright environments, rather than the dark ones preferred by movie fans – those who are more likely to pay extra money for the best OLED TVs.
Analysis: The living room battle between OLED and mini-LED is heating up
Why is LG all of a sudden bragging about OLED’s amazing black-level performance, something we already knew very well to be the case? The likely reason is that QLED mini-LED TVs are gaining market share, particularly with more affordable models like TCL and Hisense thrown into the mix along with Samsung, Sony and also LG’s more premium offerings.
Mini-LED TVs are able to achieve the same infinite contrast as OLED, but they do so by modulating zones in their backlight using a process called local dimming. To display deep black shadows, the LEDs in the specific zone where they appear can be turned off entirely.
OLED TVs, by contrast, are self-emitting – each pixel on the screen is its own light source. Individual pixels on the TV can also be turned off entirely, as well as modulated to display a very low black level. This feature offers an advantage over regular LED and mini-LED TVs, where backlight bleed can show up in high-contrast images, producing a visual artifact called “bloom”.
Even with this limitation, mini-LED TVs are capable of OLED-like black levels with infinite contrast, and the best models manage to keep the brightness to a minimum – so much so that most viewers wouldn’t notice. They are also capable of providing much higher peak brightness than OLED, with cheap models like the Hisense U8H we analyzed it measuring twice as bright as an average OLED.
High brightness is the main thing that matters in a typical living room setting, and here QLED mini-LED TVs offer a distinct advantage over OLED. To put LG’s somewhat odd announcement into perspective, the company appears to be trying to communicate that OLED will continue to do what it does best, even in a bright room.
I can’t say it’s as clear a statement as black and white. But when it comes to the black part, message received.