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LG OLEDE7P review

The E7 OLED TV is awesome TV, but unless you’re rich you shouldn’t buy it. That’s because other, cheaper OLED TVs from LG have the same image quality.

I’m referring to the C7, which currently costs $1,000 less at both the 55-inch and 65-inch sizes. And having tested both side by side, I can confirm that their picture quality is pretty much the same.

Both deliver spectacular performance that, as of early 2017, is best I’ve ever tested. It’s a bit better than its 2016 predecessors and better than any other I’ve reviewed so far. That might change in the near future as I review other 2017 high-end TVs, particularly the Sony XBR-A1E OLED, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, however, I can say that the E7 is a significantly worse value than the C7, which itself is currently overpriced compared to the 2016 versions. But while prices will fall and the 2016 models will sell out as the year progresses, the E7 will probably remain a lot more expensive than the C7. For just about every buyer, it’s not worth it.

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So what’s the difference?

In a word: design.

The E7 has glass around the edges and a speaker bar along the bottom, while the C7 is a study in minimalism, with a vanishingly small frame. Personally I actually like the C7’s design better, although both are beautiful enough to earn my top mark of “10” in the design category.

Just like last year’s E6, the E7 receives LG’s “picture-on-glass” treatment. The OLED module — the thing that creates the picture — is applied to a glass back panel, leaving the edge of the TV made of a quarter-inch of glass bordering the black around the image. It’s a striking effect.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The E7 preserves the ultrathin profile characteristic of LG OLED TVs, but the thinnest part of the TV, the upper two thirds above the bulge housing the electronics, inputs and other stuff, is actually slightly thicker than the step-down C7. It’s still hella thin, though, at around 3/8 of an inch. The bottom section of my 65-inch E7 review sample measured 2 and 3/8 inch at the widest point.

The back of the TV is also subtly patterned, but it’s a different pattern than the E6, and the entire backside is dark burgundy instead of black like last year. The stand is the same slick design used on the C7.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The other major style differentiator is a horizontal strip of silver lines along the bottom, a grille of sorts, that fronts the E7’s more powerful sound system. On the more expensive G7 you can actually fold this speaker bar up behind the TV for a cleaner look when wall-mounted, but on the E7 it’s fixed in place.

Quick and responsive, smart enough

LG’s Web OS menu system feels more mature and snappier than ever on the 2017 models, but it lacks the app coverage of Sony’s Android TV and the innovative extras of Samsung’s Tizen system. I do like using the motion-based remote to whip around the screen, something that’s particularly helpful when signing into apps using an on-screen keyboard.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The scroll wheel is also great for moving through apps, like those seemingly infinite thumbnail rows on Netflix and Amazon. New for 2017, the remote has buttons that launch each one instantly, and both are welcome. I’m less of a fan of the prominent placement of the voice/search button, but that’s my only real issue with the clicker.

Both of those major apps offer 4K and HDR/Dolby Vision content on a handful of shows and movies, mostly original series. The Vudu app is a trove of (expensive) 4K and Dolby Vision movies, too, and there’s plenty of 4K available for free on the YouTube app. A few other major non-4K apps are available, including Hulu and Google Play Movies and TV, but if you want more, your best bet is to get an external streamer.

Loaded and connected

Key TV features

OLED’s basic tech is closer to late, lamented plasma than to the LED LCD (QLED or otherwise) technology used in the vast majority of today’s TVs. Where LCD relies on a backlight shining through a liquid crystal panel to create the picture, with OLED and plasma, each individual sub-pixel is responsible for creating illumination. That’s why OLED and plasma are known as “emissive” and LED LCD are called “transmissive” displays, and a big reason why OLED’s picture quality is so good.

LED LCD vs. OLED: TV display technologies compared

For its 2017 models, LG claims a bit more brightness and some other minor tweaks (see Picture Quality for more), but generally left well enough alone. There are no differences in image quality between any of the 2017 OLED TVs, according to LG, although they do have different audio capabilities. Step-up models like the E7 hace a sound bar, while the C7 does not. A quick listen proved the E7 does sound better than the C7, but a good external sound bar will trounce either one. This year LG dropped the 3D and curved screens found on some 2016 OLEDs, including the E6.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Unlike Samsung, LG TVs like the E7 support both current types of HDR video: Dolby Vision and HDR10. Software upgrades will add support for HLG (hybrid log gamma) HDR and Technicolor’s HDR format later this year, but for content is currently nonexistent for both. A Technicolor-approved picture mode will arrive via update as well.

  • 4x HDMI inputs with HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2
  • 3x USB ports
  • 1x composite video input
  • Ethernet (LAN) port
  • Optical digital audio output
  • 1x RF (antenna) input
  • RS-232 port (minijack, for service only)

The selection of connections is top-notch. Unlike many of Samsung’s sets, this one actually has an analog video input for legacy (non-HDMI) devices, although it no longer supports analog component video.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Picture quality comparisons

The E7 and C7, which I tested simultaneously, are once again tied as the best TVs I’ve tested — ever. But since I have yet to review some other potential competitors, including Sony’s OLED TV, they don’t deserve the 2017 crown just yet. That said, its picture is spectacular enough to earn my highest score in this category: 10.

Compared to the 2016 OLED versions, which earned the same score, it delivers slightly more light output and looks better with HDR, but all told the overall differences are minor. It is significantly better than the Samsung Q7 QLED TV.

Click the image at the right to see the basic picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV’s picture controls worked during calibration.

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