What’s even more striking is that the pitch blackness on show seems remarkably stable, even with the set’s dynamic contrast feature activated. Though you really don’t need this feature with a picture that exhibits such superb native black level response, so you might as well turn it off.
The fact that the 15EL9500’s black level response is native, meanwhile, also means the set can reproduce shadow detailing and colour subtleties during dark scenes that ordinary LCD TVs can only dream about. Dark parts of pictures thus look just as layered and detailed as bright ones, helping footage look consistent and natural.
Moving around the room while watching the 15EL9500 reveals yet another amazing thing about its contrast performance. Namely that it doesn’t reduce one jot if you watch the TV from even quite extreme angles. Result.
Having black colours as deep and believable as those of the 15EL9500 also delivers plenty of other benefits. The picture looks exceptionally dynamic for such a small screen, for instance, thanks to the self-emissive screen’s ability to position punchy bright material side by side with inky blacks within a single image frame.
Then there’s the set’s colour response. For where most LCD TVs, especially small ones, struggle thanks to their lack of contrast to produce a wide, punchy and natural range of colours, especially during dark scenes, the 15EL9500’s colour palette is easily a match for anything we’ve seen from the best of the large-screen TV market.
The screen might not be Full HD, but as predicted, this doesn’t deliver discernible problems on such a small screen. HD sources still look crisp and detailed, colour blends look smooth and free of patching or striping, and best of all, the crispness and detailing remains almost entirely unaffected by motion – another respect in which OLED murders standard small-screen LCD technology.
In fact, aside perhaps from the screen being a little reflective of direct light and some slightly iffy pre-calibration colour tones, the only complaint we can muster about the 15EL9500’s revolutionary picture quality is its confinement within just 15 inches! Here’s praying that somebody figures out a way to start making big-screen OLED panels affordable soon.
The situation isn’t nearly so rosy with the 15EL9500’s audio. Getting a really significant sound performance out of so little bodywork is probably a scientific impossibility, so it’s hardly surprising that the sound produced is tinny, pretty much devoid of bass and only able to deliver a functional amount of volume. Though actually, it’s arguably quite miraculous that the 15EL9500 is able to produce any discernible sound at all!
There is one further issue, though: a marginal gap between the audio and the picture, which resulted in slight lip-sync issues with one or two Blu-rays we tried.
The 15EL9500 produces far and away the finest pictures we’ve seen on a 15in TV. In fact, it produces some of the finest pictures we’ve ever seen on any TV, period. As such, it reminds us all over again of just why OLED got us hot under the collar when we first saw it in action at shows a couple of years ago.
Unfortunately, though, although much cheaper than Sony’s OLED debut, the 15EL9500 also reminds us of OLED’s currently high costs.
But if money’s not as important to you as owning the very best of everything, even when you’re only talking about a portable TV, then the 15EL9500 is a wafer-thin treat even Mr Creosote would enjoy.