LG’s 2017 “4K” RGBW TVs Keep Offering A Weak Deal For Consumers
Stephan Jukic – December 28, 2017
LG is without a doubt one of today’s premiere 4K UHD TV makers in many ways, and its lineup of OLED televsions is particularly stunning, with top performance marks almost across the board being their tendency. However, as we’d covered in a much larger and more detailed post written earlier, in 2016 about LG’s 2016 UH6100, UH6400 and UF6800 series television models, the company also drops the ball on quality in one major and some might even argue dishonest way when it comes to some of its lesser-priced LCD 4K TV models.
Now, for the 2017 UJ6300, UJ6500, UJ7700, or even the SJ8000 LG LCD ultra HD TVs, the same thing is again being practiced.
We’re talking here about LG’s RGBW display pixel design technology. With RGBW, the label of 4K resolution is only barely maintained through a bit of clever pixel trickery. With normal 4K TVs, the RGB spectrum is held to firmly. Basically, inside each of the 3840 pixels per row on a normal RGB 4K TV, a series of Red, Green, and Blue subpixels (totaling up to 11,520 because 3840 x 3) blend together in different ways to create all the onscreen colors you see when viewing content.
Some 4K UHD TVs also include an additional white subpixel while still keeping the same quantity of RGB color pixels. The additional subpixel for white brings the total count of subpixels up to 15,360 per row. This is what LG’s OLED 4K TVs deliver and the visual result is excellent.
However, for the RGBW budget LCD “4K” TVs of LG, instead of just adding a full individual subpixels for RGB and then a W subpixel as well, the company has instead simply replaced every fourth subpixel of the normal RGB count with a white one. The result created is a major reduction in color saturation, a reduction in black level depth and, even more crucially a reduction in perceived resolution. Yes, the TVs are formally 4K ultra HD because their total number of pixels and subpixels remains the same but by cutting out that crucial fourth subpixel for either R, G or B and replacing it with a white one, LG has made the screens on these TVs weaken in how they deliver the fine multicolored details of image resolution.
Now, compared to an ordinary HDTV or especially to a 720p model, the RGBW “4K” TVs of LG still perform remarkably well, and better in terms of real resolution. But if you place a faux RGBW model from either 2016 or 2017 next to pretty much any full RGB 4K UHD TV from LG itself or any other brand, then you’ll almost certainly notice the inferior quality of the LG RGBW models.
These TVs are indeed also cheaper than your average 4K ultra HD television, and in many ways, they’re actually pretty good televisions for displaying most upscaled non-4K content or ordienary 4K SDR video sources but the spirit of true 4K UHD is not what they offer by our definition of the term and even on price, full RGB 4K UHD TVs can be bought for similar prices while offering genuinely better picture quality, better color vibrancy and much better contrast.
If you’re interested in a HDR TV in particular for this or next year, then the LG budget LCD “4K” RGBW models are definitely not your best bet. Some of them have on-the-box claims of HDR support (which are true in an absolute sense since all of these models support pass-through and playback of HDR content sources), but in terms of actual display performance by the standards of what HDR means in any sense of the technology, these televisions don’t make the grade.
The most annoying thing to us about all this isn’t that LG sells RGBW TVs of these kinds. They offer something for the market and consumers are always free to choose. No, what does annoy is that they’re marketed as if they were no different from any RGB 4K TV and this is simply not the case. LG caught flak from us and others for their 2016 RGBW pseudo-4K models but it obviously hasn’t affected their 2017 practices.