Panasonic OLED Wins 2017 TV Shootout; LG B7 Voted Best for HDR

Vincent Teoh

The Crampton & Moore/ HDTVTest 2017 TV shootout event took place in Greater London on Sunday the 13th of August, with Panasonic, LG and Sony scooping awards. The Panasonic EZ1002 pipped the LG B7 OLED to be crowned the “Best TV of 2017” after accumulating the highest score across all eight judging categories for picture quality.

2017 TV shootout

43 participants attended the public shootout event, of whom 33 votes were counted (the other ten non-voting attendees comprised five latecomers and five manufacturer representatives). They were asked to assign a score of 1 to 5 to every TV for each judging category/ subcategory after looking at carefully curated video clips that were displayed on all the televisions through an 8-way distribution amplifier kindly loaned by CYP Europe. Price was not a consideration throughout the voting process.

The five TVs compared side by side were (arranged from left to right alphabetically but split into OLEDs and LED LCDs) the LG OLED65B7V, the Panasonic TX-65EZ1002B, the Sony KD-65A1, the Samsung QE65Q9F and the Sony KD-65ZD9. All are 65-inch, 4K HDR retail sets which had been run in for at least 200 hours to minimise drifting after calibration which was carried out with the help of Tyler Pruitt from Portrait Displays using two Klein K10-A meters profiled to a JETI Spectraval 1511 reference spectroradiometer, as well as SpectraCal’s CalMAN Ultimate software. A Sony BVM-X300 4K HDR professional broadcast monitor was also present for reference purposes during selected judging categories.

The first award that was up for grabs was “Best Home Theatre TV”, honouring the display that delivered the best picture quality with a pristine source (1080p Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray) in a darkened environment for critical viewing. Scores from the “Contrast Performance”, “Colour Accuracy” and “Near-Black Uniformity” categories were totted up, and the Panasonic EZ1002 (the only OLED with an effective colour management system which did not introduce posterisation artefacts at higher settings) emerged victorious with 13.67 points, followed by the Sony A1 with 12.63 points.

Recognising that not everyone has the luxury of watching high quality sources in a light-controlled room, a “Best Living Room TV” award had been designed to celebrate the television that dealt with compressed sources best in a brighter environment. The Sony A1 OLED (15.89 points) walked away with this award on the strength of its exemplary video processing which upscaled, suppressed posterisation and handled compressed video better than the competition. The Panasonic EZ1002 was the runners-up for this award with 15.45 points.

Up next, both the “Best Gaming TV” and “Best HDR TV” awards were won by LG’s B7 OLED television. The former result was totally unsurprising, given the OLED65B7’s very low input lag of 21ms, smearing-free motion owing to OLED’s near-instantaneous pixel response time, and general pop from true 0 cd/m2 blacks even in HDR mode.

Perhaps more unexpected was how the LG 65B7 pulled more votes than the 1800-nit Sony ZD9 in the HDR category. Three types of HDR scenes were shown, namely a dark sequence from Sicario, two 1000-nit scenes from Kingsman: The Secret Service and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and two 4000-nit scenes from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Pacific Rim.

The OLED televisions naturally had the upper hand in dark-scene HDR rendition, but among the three OLEDs, the LG B7 performed best with 1000-nit and 4000-nit HDR footage thanks to its reduced ABL (Automatic Brightness Limiter) restriction, not to mention dynamic tone-mapping that retained most specular highlight details. Even though we explained during the shootout that tone-mapping 4000-nit HDR content is a function of balancing brightness and highlight detail, and that there’s no standard for tone-mapping anyway, the attendees favoured LG’s retention of specular highlights over Sony’s approach of maintaining overall brightness but clipping some bright highlight detail.

LG’s triumph in the HDR category marks a spectacular reversal of fortune from last year where the company’s E6 OLED – hampered by subpar tone-mapping – was beaten by the LED LCDs (Samsung KS9500 and Panasonic DX902) in 2016’s TV shootout.

After the scores from all eight judging categories were added up, the Panasonic 65EZ1002B was the winner with 32.99 points, and thus took home the much-coveted “Best TV of 2017” gong. The LG OLED65B7 came a very close second with 32.28 points. The 0.71-point difference was averaged across 33 voting attendees, so the actual difference in marks was more than 20 points, but considering that the 65in B7 (street price £2,999) costs half the price of the EZ1002 (RRP £5,999), LG’s 2017 OLEDs will surely dominate the minds of propective buyers when value-for-money is taken into account.

Note: If you’re interested in buying any of the TVs in this shootout, please consider purchasing from Crampton & Moore (call 0113 244 6607 and ask for David Conner) who went to great lengths to organise this event and secure the televisions for the shootout. A very big thank you to them – they deserve your continuing support so the next shootout can happen.