The LG OLED65B9 is another important step in OLED’s long journey to mass-market adoption. In conjunction with Philips’ also excellent 65OLED754, it resets expectations of the sort of price we can expect to pay for a high-quality, big-brand OLED TV. Problems with LG’s new OLED production lines and the impact of Coronavirus could hold back further price progress for LG’s next B-series generation. But for now we’ll take what we can get – and with the LG OLED65B9, we’re getting a lot.
- Great, contrast-rich picture quality
- Gorgeous high-end design
- Good smart system
- Some slight black crush
- Pictures not as detailed or finely coloured as the C9 pictures
- Potential for screen burn if you don't take care
- Review Price: £1799
- HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR
- WebOS, now with Apple TV
- ALLM and VRR gaming features
- Multimedia playback support via USB and network
The LG B9 (OLED65B9) is the Korean brand’s entry-level 65-inch OLED TV. This makes it an exciting prospect for anyone who wants to get their hands on a big OLED screen, but can’t stretch their budget to the prices usually required for a 65-inch OLED TV.
Inevitably, LG has had to make compromises to hit the OLED65B9’s price. The set isn’t quite as glamorous looking as the step-up C9 series, and it uses a less powerful video processor. Nevertheless, it still offers serious bang for its buck.
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LG B9 design and build – Exceptional build quality
The LG OLED65B9 isn’t quite as pretty as its step-up C9 sibling, in the main due to its smaller stand. It’s still incredibly thin around the edges of its rear, and the slim section of the rear panel is still beautifully finished.
Build quality feels exceptional. So while the screen is mind-bogglingly thin in places, it doesn’t at all feel fragile.
The LG B9 ships with one of LG’s Magic Remotes. This lets you select on-screen options just by pointing the remote at the right part of the screen. This can prove fiddly if you’re trying to select quite a small on-screen area, but overall it’s a welcome and intuitive innovation, especially since the remote also carries a spinning wheel at its heart to help you whizz up and down text menus.
If you don’t like the point-and-click approach, the Magic Remote also supports all the normal navigation buttons, as well as Netflix and Prime Video buttons, and a voice control mic.
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LG B9 features – A step down in the processor, but HDMI 2.1 is great for gaming
The LG OLED65B9’s star attraction is simply the way it gives you access to LG’s OLED screen technology for relatively little cash. OLED’s main attraction being, of course, that each pixel produces its own light. This gives OLED a contrast boost over rival LCD screens, which have to share external backlights across thousands or even tens of thousands of pixels.
The OLED65B9 drives all of those self-emissive pixels with LG’s second-generation Alpha 7 processor. This is a step down in power and feature terms from the Alpha 9 chipset found in the C9 series. Not surprisingly, this has a negative impact on the LG B9’s pictures – but it certainly doesn’t stop the B9 from being a great TV.
The LG B9’s sound system uses the same 40W 2.2-channel configuration in the step-up C9 model. It also joins LG’s other OLED models by carrying built-in Dolby Atmos decoding and LG’s excellent AI Sound feature. This processes incoming sound so that it gets the optimal performance from the TV’s speakers.
The LG B9 gets the latest iteration of LG’s renowned webOS platform. This keeps the familiar attractive and space-saving core that we’ve seen for years now. However, it also adds one or two nice new enhancements. Most notably a screen for monitoring and even controlling any smart/Internet of Things devices on your network, and a second tier of direct show or movie links that pops up when you highlight a streaming service app from the main webOS bar.
WebOS also currently offers the most comprehensive voice-recognition system in town. As well as LG’s own ThinQ AI system, this can work with the Alexa and Google Assistant voice platforms without external listening devices. No other TV brand in the UK offers so much built-in voice control flexibility.
The LG B9 provides all the key apps most UK TV viewers will want, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Rakuten and Freeview Play. The latter provides access to all of the UK’s key catch-up TV platforms, too.
Recently, LG has added the Apple TV app to its 9-series OLED TVs. This fills the one gaping hole in LG’s smart platform – and, crucially, means LG no longer has to admit that its TVs don’t support Apple TV while Samsung TVs do…
The LG B9 supports HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG high dynamic range formats. LG continues not to support the HDR10+ dynamic HDR format, though.
As you’d expect of a 65-inch TV, the LG B9 carries four HDMIs, three USBs and the usual Bluetooth and Wi-Fi cable-free options. Where the OLED65B9 departs from the norm is with the version of HDMI it uses, however.
While most brands only offer HDMI 2.0 ports on their 4K TVs with, perhaps, the one or two features associated with v2.1 ports, here all four HDMIs are full-bandwidth HDMI 2.1. This means they should be compatible with potential 4K 120Hz games offered by the next generation of games consoles.
The v2.1 HDMIs also provide eARC capability, enabling the TV to pass lossless DTS:X or Dolby Atmos audio streams through the TV to soundbars or AV receivers.
As you’d hope, the high-end spec of the LG OLED65B9’s HDMIs makes it a potentially great gaming monitor. It supports automatic low-latency mode, variable refresh rates with 4K, and an outstanding 14ms of input lag when when running in its Game mode.
Do bear in mind that while the risks seem much reduced these days, it’s still possible for OLED TVs to fall prey to permanent image retention if you don’t handle them with care when watching anything containing static image elements.
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LG B9 setup – Easier to set up than previous LG TVs
LG’s latest generation of OLED TVs are more forgiving settings-wise than their predecessors. There are still a few tips I’d recommend if you want to get the best picture quality, however.
Personally, I’d choose the Standard picture preset over Cinema. It offers up a bit more scene-by-scene brightness and punch with HDR, without making colours look overblown. The Cinema preset is much brighter and more usable than previous generations, though.
It also does a better job of “hiding” compression noise in dark areas of streamed sources. So feel free to try it with some types of content, especially if you’re watching TV in a dark room.
Keep all noise reduction turned off for 4K and high-quality HD sources. For any 24p movie viewing, I’d recommend using the Clear TruMotion setting, or choosing custom and setting the judder and blur elements to around three or four.
I’d leave the Smooth Gradation setting set at Low rather than turning it off. This will reduce the potential for colour striping.
Make sure the Dynamic Tone Mapping feature is active for HDR viewing (especially vanilla HDR10), and at least experiment with using the Dolby Vision Dark setting for streamed Dolby Vision content, since this is less likely to expose source compression noise.
Surprisingly, on the audio front my experience has been that turning off Dolby Atmos and activating LG’s AI Sound mode instead gives the best results.
While LG’s AI Sound mode is a winner, I’d advise against using its AI Picture mode. This tends to be too aggressive, causing distracting artefacts at times.
LG B9 performance – Not as capable as the C9, but picture quality is excellent
I was fortunate enough to be able to review the LG B9 sat alongside an LG C9 model. This made it much easier to spot the differences between the two – and there’s no doubt that overall the C9 comes out on top. That isn’t to say that the OLED65B9 isn’t also an excellent TV.
In fact, in the LG OLED65B9 actually seems to initially outgun its more expensive sibling when it comes to black levels.
At first this seems surprising. After all, while OLED technology has always been renowned for its black-level performance, it’s tended to get slightly better with each OLED generation, not worse.
Closer comparison of the LG OLED65B9 and C9 pictures reveals that the C9 model delivers more detail in the darkest parts of the picture. By comparison, the very darkest parts of the LG OLED65B9’s pictures look a touch hollow and flat.
I think some film fans will actually prefer the blacker finish to dark scenes on the B9. But the more refined, subtly shaded look to dark areas on the C9 clearly shows what LG was trying to achieve by raising black levels a touch with the latest Alpha 9 chipset.
In other areas the B9 is more obviously inferior to the C9; its pictures don’t look as sharp, for instance. And that’s true with both upscaled HD and native 4K content.
Nor are the LG OLED65B9’s images as bright as those of the C9. This applies to both the very brightest peaks of HDR sources (it measures around 650 nits of peak brightness on a white HDR window covering 10% of the screen), and typical full-screen HDR brightness. This has an impact on colour, too, as the OLED65B9’s palette doesn’t quite match the richness and range of the C9.
There’s more cross-screen consistency in the C9’s colours, and tones typically look more balanced and natural. This is especially true with skin tones, which are also less likely to become mannequin-like on LG’s more expensive model.
The LG OLED65B9’s colours do sometimes look a little more flat-out punchy and bold, though. This is a result of its deeper black levels giving colours in some contrast-rich scenes a deeper black level off which to “bounce”. As with the deeper black levels, this occasional colour boost can create the feeling that the LG OLED665B9 is actually outperforming its more expensive siblings. Overall , though, this doesn’t quite add up.
However, the LG OLED65B9 definitely does show less noise in its pictures than the C9. This applies to both blocky compression noise in some dark video streams (especially from Prime Video) and the marginally exaggerated grain you get with some movies (such as Mad Max: Fury Road on 4K Blu-ray).
The first of these positives is probably down to the LG OLED65B9’s deeper black levels “hiding” some of the compression blocking, while the latter may simply be down to the LG B9’s pictures not being quite as sharp.
The LG OLED65B9’s audio is unexpectedly good – provided you switch it into its AI Sound mode. This unlocks a much fuller, more dynamic, more impactful sound than you get in any other audio mode.
Surprisingly the Dolby Atmos setting is disappointing. As with all of LG’s current OLED TVs, it leaves even native Dolby Atmos soundtracks sounding low on impact and dynamics. The AI mode is much more effective.
The B9 doesn’t deliver quite as much bass as the C9 – but, oddly, I felt that its sound had a slightly more direct feel to it.
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Should you buy an LG OLED65B9?
The comparisons I’ve made between the LG OLED65B9 and an LG C9 are all very interesting when it comes to nailing down the differences between LG’s Alpha 7 and Alpha 9 processors.
I guess it will also help anyone trying to decide if it’s worth spending extra for the LG OLED65C9 (I’d say it is, if you have enough spare change).
However, just comparing the LG OLED65B9 to its more expensive sibling isn’t particularly fair. After all, it’s only to be expected that the OLED65B9 would come up short overall next to a more expensive model. So I should stress that when considered on its own terms, against similarly priced competition, the LG OLED65B9 is an excellent TV.
It may not be as bright or sharp as the very best LCD TVs, but then LCD TVs can’t match it for black level and, especially, local contrast. And while it faces stiff competition from the even cheaper and Ambilight-equipped Philips 65OLED754, the LG’s pictures are more subtle and refined (if less punchy), and its operating system is significantly more user friendly.
Score in detail
Smart TV 9
Image Quality 9
Sound Quality 7
|Max. Resolution||3840 x 2160|
|Full HD 1080p||Yes (actually 4K)|
|Digital Audio Out||1 (optical)|
|WiFi||Yes (built in)|