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These three LG TVS offer inferior RGBW 4K and a weak deal for consumers

by on September 25, 2016
 

Stephan Jukic – September 25, 2016

Buying a 4K TV is now more affordable than ever before and often also includes getting your hands on some truly wonderful name brand ultra HD TV models with great, even premium features at superb prices. Nothing has shown this to be the case more than some of the new TVs we’ve seen emerge in 2015 and 2016 in particular. However, while going for the best possible deal on 4K display is a great idea if you’re working with a limited budget, not all the offerings on the market deliver quite what you might be hoping for.

In the case of select LG TV models, even the basic 4K spec itself, which should be a guaranteed minimum of any TV which is called a 4K set, may not completely apply. Specifically, this is the case with LG’s low-priced 2016 UH6100, UH6400 and UF6800 series television models. Aside from failing to offer the quality and better extra display features of their pricier LG cousins, these particular TVs don’t even deliver truly competition-comparable 4K ultra HD resolution but, LG itself still calls them 4K televisions.

The LG UF6800

The LG UF6800

Now don’t get us wrong, LG is one superb UHD TV brand and their OLED 4K TV models are what we consider to be the best consumer televisions of any kind on sale today on the North American market. Furthermore, while we haven’t always liked many of their LCD 4K TVs, the majority of them are decent performers and some such as the UH8500 and UH9500 models are actually quite great performers with excellent HDR color and some beautiful specs. These TVs are all also however much pricier than the 6100, 6400 and UF6800 series TVs.

And this is where the rub lies. The UH6100, UH6400 and UF6800 models all offer lower prices by LG standards but LG’s description of them as real 4K TVs is disingenuous in a way we haven’t seen with the most affordable ultra HD TVs from any other brand on the market. Unlike Samsung’s Sony’s, Vizio’s or other brands’ most basic UHD televisions, these LG models don’t even deliver on their 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels in the classical sense of the spec. Instead, what they do offer is a sort of pseudo-4K which really consists of 2.8K native full color resolution.

The UH6100, UH6400 and UF6800 series TVs do indeed offer 2160 horizontal scan lines with 3840 pixels in each line but unlike regular real UHD displays, these models pull a sort of trick which reduces image sharpness by substituting red, green and blue subpixels in some of their full pixels for white subpixels. This mechanism is called RGBW and it’s distinctly inferior to the RGB found in real 4K TVs.

The LG UH6100

The LG UH6100

Basically, in a normal 4K UHD TV, each of the 8.29 million pixels consists of three subpixels, one for red, one for green and one for blue. Sometimes a white subpixel is also added to these three RGB subpixels for enhanced brightness. This normal 4K display process is called RGB and it’s a key piece of the technology which produces maximal color saturation and gamut in regular and even high end 4K TVs (taking aside even more advanced technologies like HDR).

In the case of the three LG TVs mentioned above however, the RGBW mechanism is used instead and with this, instead of adding a white subpixel to its regular range of RGB subpixels in each of the UH6100, UH6400 and UF6800 TVs, LG completely replaces every fourth red, green or blue subpixel with purely white one in these TVs. As a result, out of every four regular full pixels in the TV display, three are missing whole key colors for quality ultra HD image rendering.

For a clearer idea of what RGBW looks like in comparison to RGB, you can see the comparison between RGB and inferior RGBW in the graphics below:

rgbw_main_1

uhdrgbvsrgbw2

 

 

The result of this manipulation is a picture quality which only offers about 2.8K (2880 RGB) of actual full color pixel resolution with the remaining subpixels totaling up to 1.2K of white substitution. One further highly visible negative effect of the RGBW display and its saturation of white subpixels is a terrible black uniformity and black level performance in all three of these TV models. This is a problem common to many LG 4K LCD TVs but it’s at its very worst in the three RGBW models we’re covering here.

The tricky bit from LG here is that since there are actually 3840 x 2160 pixels on the screen, TVs with RGBW can technically be called 4K models, even if they don’t offer a full 4K worth of full color resolution.

LG accepts that they do this, since they obviously can’t deny what anyone can test with one of these TV displays but the company also defends the practice by saying that it improves luminance and also causes power savings for users of the TVs because instead of having to activate all three RGB pixels to equal brightness to create white light (this is how white is normally created in 4K TVs), they simply depend on the actual white subpixels for white light. The company also claims that the TVs are cheaper to produce and thus more budget friendly for consumers.

The LG UH6400

The LG UH6400

All of these points have their validity but the fact remains that these TVs are being marketed as 4K models and in reality they don’t actually produce 4K levels of picture sharpness. Those red, green and blue pixels are crucial to sharp details of content on the TV and the replacement of a full quarter of them with generic white pixels creates exactly the effect you’d get from native 3K resolution (2.8K to be exact). Even if the white pixels are scattered around with no two white pixels ever being next to each other vertically or horizontally the maximum RGB-created color saturation and even resolution of these TVs is ¾ of what it is in a full RGB 4K TV set.

Yes, the UH6100, UH6400 and UF6800 “4K” TVs are being sold for lower prices than those of their full RGB LG 4K cousins (the 50 inch UH6100 and UH6400 models cost about $700 and $750 respectively and the smallest 55 inch UF6800 TV sells on Amazon for $1,500) but they’re still not being sold for reasonably cheap prices at all considering the defects that RGBW produces. Full 4K RGB budget TV models from Sony, Samsung and particularly Vizio can be found at the same or even lower prices while offering true 4K resolution, full RGB subpixels in all 8.29 million full pixels and black performance far better than that of these three LG TVs.

In very basic terms, LG is playing an unfair marketing and display quality game with the consumers who are thinking of buying these TVs or have bought them already.

Story by 4k.com

32 comments
 
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  • Karl
    January 5, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Are the LG 40UH630v 43UH650v and 43UH669v RGBW or is the 40 not as some say

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      January 6, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Hello Karl, to my knowledge, the TV models you refer to also come with RGBW displays, though it’s hard to be sure due to the changed model numbers for non-U.S markets.

      Reply

      • Karl
        February 3, 2017 at 12:39 pm

        Hi after getting a LG 40UH630v, a LG 43UH650v and a LG 43UH668v I can say that all but the 40UH630v are RGBW and as I use them for 4k PC and TV they look bad

        the 40UH630v is also not a IPS screen as LG clamed, it’s a VA with very wide viewing angles (more than the other two IPS ones)
        the 40 is a good find for TV/PC use, sadly it’s a little small
        the RGBW looks bad on text unreadable on the greens and reds
        and as they are all HDMI 2.0a in 4k 60hz with deep colour (RGB on the PC) it takes all the room on the HDMI so when using sound they flicker or crash (see last few posts in the link)

        https://www.avforums.com/threads/hdmi-deep-colour-on-or-off.1376483/#post-24690244

        LG should not be allowed to get away with this

        Reply

  • Jackastan
    January 24, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Does the LG 60uh6035 use RGBw?

    Reply

  • Alex
    February 2, 2017 at 3:20 am

    And what about LG UH6700 series? Also RGBW?

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      February 2, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      Hello Alex, Are you referring to the UF6700? Or the UH7700? There is no UH6700 that I know of.

      Reply

      • Alex
        February 2, 2017 at 11:50 pm

        Oh, my bad. Sorry. Yes, 2015 model UF6700.

        Reply

        • Stephen
          Stephen
          February 3, 2017 at 1:02 pm

          Thanks Alex, yes, to my knowledge the UF6700 is a regular RGB TV, no RGBW. However, from what I know of it (we haven’t reviewed this model but I’ve quickly examined a couple before) it comes with one very bad contrast ratio. The black levels are simply terrible, even by IPS display standards. So I’d recommend you have a look at the TV actively displaying content first if possible.

          Reply

  • Jeff Kreines
    February 2, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Does the 50UH5530 have an RGB or RGBW panel? Impossible to get a firm answer in 3 hours of Googling!

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      February 3, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      We haven’t reviewed this model Jeff, so I’m sorry to say that I can’t be absolutely sure if it does or not. However, from what I’ve heard this TV is a normal RGB model.

      Reply

  • Donn Granros
    February 3, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    I have a LG model 43UH6030 that I bought in November. These TV’s were available at various places at 299.00. LG confirmed that the 43UH6030 -and- 43UH6100 were actually the same model. All of our TV’s in recent years have been LG. I like the IPS panel and the very deep customization menu. After a bit of tweaking I was able to get what I think is very excellent color. Netflix has an area for 4K and HDR content. If the TV reads an HDR signal it automatically switches and allows for more HDR display options (Vivid, standard etc). I was aware of the RGBW pixel controversy and really in a 43″ TV I think the subject is pretty moot. The display quality is excellent, and I am fairly fussy about this, and I am very satisfied with my purchase, I know people and reviewers say that 4K is not very apparent in smaller screens but to me it is noticeable. 3K, 4K.. whatever. This TV and pixel structure works well for me..

    Reply

  • Chris
    February 4, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Does anyone know if the 55uh6090 is in the same rgbw boat as the 6100?

    Reply

  • johnny ventis
    February 9, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    What about the LG UH5530? This is a VA panel, but is it a RGBW scam?

    Reply

  • ctleong
    February 16, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    What about LG 55UH615T? Also RGBW?

    Reply

  • CHS
    February 18, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Just returned LG 65UH750v for having one of the worst black uniformity I have ever seen and many other issues with image quality. Reading this I am sure it’s also an RGBW set.

    Reply

  • ROdrigo Padilha
    March 16, 2017 at 7:47 am

    hi, i have the lg uh6500, it’s use the rgbw or rgb?

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      March 16, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Hey there Rodrigo, unfortunately, the UH6500 is an RGBW TV. However, if you’ve been happy with the picture quality so far, this might not be a problem. The biggest issue with RGBW isn’t even so much the slightly reduced resolution detail, it’s the degraded black levels and overall contrast. However, I’ve seen RGBW TV displays displaying some very decent content, though it doesn’t quite compare to a full RGB TV display’s quality.

      Reply

  • JJ
    April 22, 2017 at 2:46 am

    Is either the LG 65″ UH652T or the new 2017 65″ UJ654T made with RGBW?

    Reply

  • Kevin Morrison
    April 25, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    I have the 55UH6150.
    This thing not only has bad colour… whites appear blown out.
    But the upper left corner is brighter than the rest of the screen.
    Some blacks have no delineation so they look crushed.
    Most colours look faded.

    The worst part is when watching a 4k/UHD disk…
    I get a “screen tear” horizontally and then it ripples downward.

    It doesn’t happen with DVD. It doesn’t happen with Blu-ray. Only with a 4k/UHD.

    I have no idea how to go about getting it fixed.
    I tried calibration, as much as I could based off of Cnet’s guide.
    I’m at a serious loss here.
    I’m ready to just toss the POS out and smash it to bits!

    Reply

  • Mohamad
    May 18, 2017 at 5:09 am

    Dears
    Do you know the new models of 2017
    Uj6300v and uj7500v uses rgb or rgbw ?

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      May 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      Hi there Mohammed, to our knowledge, these 2017 LG TVs are RGB, though we haven’t reviewed them ye to be 100% sure.

      Reply

  • Goutham
    July 2, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Does LG 43 UJ 652 T Uses RGBW Or RGB Please reply me as soon as possible thank you

    Reply

  • Jay
    July 7, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    Hi Stephen,

    What about LG 55UH7650, does it have the same issue? and how likely you recommend this tv?
    I am confused between this tv (LG55UH7650) and Samsung 55KU7000 or KU7500. Your suggestion would help a lot and would highly be appreciated.

    Jay

    Reply

  • Dimitris
    August 5, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    What about the LG 43uj670v (2017 model) ? Does it also have RGBW?

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      August 26, 2017 at 10:22 pm

      Hi again Dimitris, as I said in my other comment, yes it does to our knowledge, better to go for that Sony TV you mentioned.

      Reply

  • Tee
    October 23, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Hey Stephen, I see a constant stream of questions about a particular model.
    I Rather than asking the same, I’m wondering if there some way owners (or prospective buyers) can easily determine if the panel is RGBW, eg. a particular display test or something?
    Thanks for the great info, so disappointing to see LG issuing this tech! If it was an additional W pixel (e.g. a ‘5K’ display) then I wouldn’t care.

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      October 27, 2017 at 5:31 pm

      Hi there Tee, well, quite honestly, aside from doing a magnification analysis of the pixel structure on the display, there really is no easy way to tell without watching the TV perform and noting some really poor black levels and contrast. However even with this one can’t be sure. Some 4K TVs, particularly those with IPS panel displays simply deliver terrible contrast even without RGBW pixel color arrays. The shame is that LG isn’t open about clearly labeling which of its TVs are RGBW models.

      Reply

  • Argentinian
    December 4, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    What about the Lg 49UJ6560?

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      December 4, 2017 at 11:50 pm

      Hey Argentinian. Yes it’s also an RGBW 4K TV to our knowledge. This is why we generally don’t recommend any of LG’s lower end 4K TVs unless they’re really selling at a major discount. You can get better value from similarly priced and sized normal RGB 4K models from Samsung, Vizio, TCL, Sony even. For LG, better to go with their Super UHD UH-Series (2016) or SJ-Series (2017) TVs, or the company’s fantastic OLED televisions.

      Reply

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