For more than 30 years I’ve been on what turned out to be an expensive quest for the absolute pinnacle of television perfection and it’s been quite a trip (that’s a story unto itself) … leading to where I really think we’re extremely close to the end of “the search.” (Unless 32K tele-holography becomes available in my lifetime.) I’ll share why I have that opinion in a few moments. I’m not going to show pictures as it would be meaningless … I’ll provide the appropriate links.

For over three months I’ve been watching what essentially all tech reviewers agree are the two best sets money can buy. The top-of-the-line Samsung LED SUHD and LG OLED TVs. Both are frightfully expensive if you pay extra to get the correct version and avoid the very real and onerous panel lottery. Especially the LG. Since the prices are as stable as the weather, I’ll just say you can buy a nice used car for less bucks.

The testing is taking place in my media room, therefore, I don’t have the issues you’d have in someplace like your local electronics mega-store. These are not some “amped-up” loaners from the manufacturers …. I bought them and had them shipped in from across the country. So this is a real world test. And don’t worry, I’m not going to launch into some kind of technical diatribe about LG’s OLED vs. Samsung’s SUHD screen.  To totally cover these two sets versus each other and all other sets, would literally take pages and pages of boring tech stats and endless explanations what each meant. Suffice it to say that OLED technology is similar to LED TVs and hugely different at the same time. Shockingly, it took almost 65 years after the discovery of OLEDs to bring it to the consumer. Simple it ain’t.

First the Samsung. If I didn’t have the LG as a reference, I’d be inclined to say it’s about the best picture I’ve ever seen that can actually be purchased. Fantastic color, best ever remote, smart menus and a literal plethora of options just make it that much better. Not to mention a direct interface with DirecTV for 4K. (and its wildly ridiculous charges to view even 40+ old movies even after the nightmarish DirecTV install) Everything just exudes quality. Here comes the “but” … The longer I watch it the more it becomes obvious that the black levels, regardless of how the set is back-lit, are lacking. If you have a normal 1080p set, it’s a world of difference better … but in this company, with what’s being paid, it should be better. The single biggest issue however is the moiré patterning. And it has a very real issue with it … when dimly lit scenes appear; the dark areas display the typical LCD issue of grayish-black square/rectangles appearing. If you’ve never had anyone point this out to you before while you’re watching your TV, don’t let them, as you’ll never watch it again without noticing it.       For any set that is in the thousands of cubic dollars, that’s a fatal flaw. FYI, “Game of Thrones” is shot with ARRI ALEXA 4K and RED Dragon 6K cameras … using a single candle for ALL lighting in some scenes. You can see why that moiré patterning can be especially annoying. Huge floating chunks of grey and black blocks don’t make for a great viewing experience.

Now for the baddest TV of all time … the LG OLED. Firstly, its black levels aren’t something that can’t be really explained … you have to experience it in person. Simply put, when something is black … it’s dark hole black. That makes the contrast difference between black and other colors shockingly different. The fact that the LG is a 10bit set gives it a broader range of colors than 99.99999% of all other TVs. And it’s already HDR ready … that’s the next major step in TVs. (more than even 8K!) HDR deals with increasing contrast (difference between black and white) … No normal set can do this … period. As of this writing, excluding the LG, there are only about five sets actually for sale that are ready for this and all of them have the Samsung’s issues. With an almost non-existent frame, in a dark room it appears to floating in mid-air. Other than a minor tweak of the menus and better wall mounting options, the only significant complaint is a wee bit of judder in extremely fast scenes. I can deal with that seldomly seen issue to have the amazing picture. Is it worth the extra couple grand over the Samsung? The answer is an unequivocal yes. I’d be staring at the Samsung, noting every flaw and it’d drive me crazy. I know that the HDR is rare except if you have Amazon Prime. I know that 4K shows are far and few between. I’m trying to somewhat future-proof my media room. A few more bucks now will equal savings in the future as these become common place. Should you think that’s many years away, note that 4K sets are selling like crazy and remember that the amazing 1080HD set you’re watching now only took a few years transition from the old cathode ray low-def sets. Virtually all  TV shows and movies are now being shot in either 4K, 6K, 6.5K or in some cases, 8K. And have been for a few years now. The future is much closer than you think.

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