LG B8 4K UHD HDR OLED TV Review (OLED55B8PUA, OLED65B8PUA)
Stephan Jukic – July 25, 2018
LG’s 2018 OLED B8 4K HDR TV is the slightly cheaper, slightly simpler cousin of the 2018 LG C8 OLED 4K HDR TV and in keeping with the typical patterns of each year’s LG OLED 4K TV lineup, it performs almost the same as the pricier C8. There are differences between the two TVs, both in terms of design and as far as display specs are concerned, and some of these differences make the B8 the slightly inferior model, but they’re all very minor. In other words, this is a typically outstanding new premium 2018 LG 4K HDR TV with Organic Light Emitting Diode technology and while we’ll cover its minor flaws and deviations from that the C8 or Sony’s rival A8F OLED TV can do in the sections below, we’ll also explain just why the B8 has plenty of value and quality to offer. After all, this is OLED TV display technology we’re talking about here.
- Superb motion handling
- Great performance for HDR and ordinary TV content
- The usual perfect OLED contrast and black levels
- Great performer for console gaming
- Wonderful viewing angles
- Superb color rendering
- Possible burn-in problems
- Brightness issues
LG’s B8 OLED TV is this year’s single best priced television with this kind of technology for the North American market. It’s not quite as good as Sony’s A8F OLED HDR model or LG’s own C8 edition but it comes very close while costing a decent bit less (particularly when compared to the A8F from Sony). In almost all major metrics of performance the B8 is excellent nonetheless and we highly recommend it for its overall value per dollar spent. If you want the best possible performance in an OLED TV, then go for a pricier LG or Sony model but if you’re looking for what is still excellent cutting edge 2018 performance in this type of TV while saving some money, go for the B8.
What We Liked
There is plenty to like about the B8. As we said above, it performs almost as well as the C8 and we absolutely loved its cousin. In other words, our praise will be almost the same for this edition while also taking into account qualities that are very specific to this particular TV. In terms of both display performance and hardware handling, the B8 is a great model. It’s also superbly designed and (thankfully) doesn’t come with a curved display.
Fantastic OLED contrast and black levels
OLED means perfect contrast and perfect black levels. This is a universal quality of the technology in all OLED displays regardless of their price or other features. The B8 delivers these two crucial specs as well as any other OLED TV and this means that it delivers them both perfectly. In a nutshell, OLED displays work by creating light inside the individual pixels of the TV display itself. The organic light emitting diodes of an OLED TV can individually be made to go bright or completely deactivate as needed. As a result, when deep blacks are needed, they are truly totally black and when high contrast is needed, it’s literally infinite because the lit parts of the screen are contrasting against black sections that emit no light.
LCD TVs can’t come even close to matching this because they come with LED arrays behind the LCD display and cut off light for contrast by turning off imprecise sections of that LED array and blocking remaining light inside their pixels with small filters. The technology works well in high quality LCD TVs but it never completely eliminates at least some level of backlight bleed (resulting in halo effects around brightly lit objects against a dark background and in “clouding” on large dark sections of the screen).
What all this means is that with the B8, you’ll get total perfect black levels and perfect infinite contrast of a type that not even much more expensive LCD 4K HDR TVs can match.
Because of the same technology described above, in which individual pixels light up or turn off as needed for content, the B8, like all OLED TVs, offers what is called OLED dimming capability. In other words, instead of the limited number of imprecise local dimming zones created by LCD TVs which can deactivate sections of the LED backlight arrays, this TV can shut off or turn on luminosity right down the precision of a single pixel. As a 4K TV, the B8 comes with nearly 8.3 million pixels on its display, so you can imagine the sheer dimming precision this technology delivers.
High peak and sustained brightness
The LG B8 isn’t quite as capable of high peak brightness as LG’s C8 is or Sony’s A8F but it still produces levels of it that are excellent compared to those of older OLED 4K TVs or most LCD TVs even. When this is combined with its perfect black levels, what you get is the visual impression of superb contrast and that in turn means excellent overall picture quality and color vibrancy, since brightly-lit colorful imagery stands out against deep dark tones. There is a negative side to this model’s capacity for peak brightness but we’ll cover that a bit further down.
Superb color delivery
The color delivery of the B8 is downright excellent. In terms of high dynamic range color standards, this TV is an excellent performer and manages to output up to 98% of the DCI-P3 Wide Color Gamut spectrum for HDR standard fulfillment. It doesn’t deliver quite as rich a WCG color palette as Sony’s A8F or LG’s C8 but the difference is small enough that most viewers probably won’t notice it at all. Like all LG HDR TVs, the B8 is supports both Dolby Vision content and HDR-mastered high dynamic range movies/shows. As a result, it will absolutely hammer home the quality of all your favorite HDR Blu-rays, streamed content and HDR console games of any kind that you play. The B8 also deliver superb support for ordinary SDR video sources, rendering conventional TV, DVD, streaming and cable content beautifully, with great color vibrancy and accuracy even if HDR isn’t being used.
Excellent motion handling
The motion handling of the B8 is downright superb and fully on par with the best you’ll get from any 2018 premium 4K TV. This model plays back content from nearly any media source smoothly and delivers extremely low motion blur thanks partly to its OLED display technology (which can manage much higher pixel refresh rates than LCD TV displays are capable of). The OLEDB8 is also a great television for fast-paced sportscasts, fast action movies and PC or console games thanks to its native 120Hz TV display.
We particularly like the B8’s design. It’s sturdy, elegant, extremely thin and light-weight. Since this TV has no backlights, most of its display body is extremely thin and that makes the B8 model idea for mounting to a wall or other flat vertical surface. Even the TV’s bulkier hardware enclosure at the lower back end of the display is quite lean, allowing for the TV to be placed against a wall pretty snugly. One major thing we love about this model is the fact that it comes with the same stand design as last year’s C7 TV model. This is much narrower than the stand on this year’s C8 TV and means that the B8 can fit on smaller surfaces much more comfortably. The edges of the B8 are also wonderfully thin, creating a roomy, elegant feel to the overall display. On a final design note, the connectivity ports on this television model are very accessibly placed along one outer edge of the rear hardware enclosure, meaning that they can be easily accessed even if the B8 is mounted up to a wall.
Smart TV and controls
Like all of LG’s 2018 4K TVs, the B8 comes with the latest version of WebOS and includes voice assistant support for basic content selection and other key smart interface controls. It’s also compatible with other major LG electronics that also happen to have ThinQ technology inside them. We’ve heard that this model is compatible with Google Assistant but weren’t able to verify this at the time of this review.
As for the B8’s smart TV platform, it’s as great as WebOS has been for a long time now, with an easy to use interface, fast functionality and plenty of apps for streaming content of all types. All of the major smart TV apps for 4K content come pre-installed on this model and include Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and others. You can also download additional apps from LG’s content store, though the selection isn’t nearly as large as that found in 4K TVs with access to Google Play Store, which is indeed available on Sony 4K TVs like the rival A8F model. The remote for the B8 is the same as the one that comes with the C8 and is the device which offers voice assistant support for this TV. It’s design is excellent, with both typical old-style remote buttons and smart controls.
Voice controlled features for the B8 via the remote control include things like: Change to HDMI X (whichever port you prefer) and opening apps with commands like: ‘Open Hulu’ or even more refined commands like “Search Netflix for Breaking Bad”. You can also ask the voice assistant general questions like ‘How’s the weather in Chicago’, but essential TV display settings can’t be controlled via voice controls.
Remember also, if you’re not happy with LG’s native smart TV platform, you can also install an external media device into one of this television’s HDMI ports and viola, you’ve got a whole new range of apps and smart options ready to go.
What We Didn’t Like
Possible problems with burn-in
LG has done a lot to reduce this possible problem since it started manufacturing its earliest OLED display panels for the TV market in 2014 but even now, OLED pixels remain delicate things and content that stays on the screen in a fixed spot for prolonged periods of time can indeed create a bit of a “stain” in the OLED panel itself. Since burn-in takes a while to develop in an OLED TV, it’s still a bit early to tell just how much of it the B8 will suffer from over time, but we’re guessing that there will be at least some reported by owners after a year or two. LG has however integrated three different features into all of its 2018 OLED 4K TV models to combat burn-in to some extent. These are the following:
Pixel Refresher, Screen Shift and setting the Logo Luminance Adjustment to “Low” for fixed on-screen logos of any kind (the dimmer an OLED pixel is kept for prolonged static content icons, the lower the chance of burn-in).
On an extremely positive note, we should note that unlike any of LG’s 2017 or older OLED TVs, the B8 suffers from virtually no image retention after content has changed. This is an excellent improvement by LG for its newest OLED TVs since it was previously one of the main things we counted against them in terms of display performance.
As we mentioned in detail above in our section on things we like about the B8, this is a very bright OLED TV by the standards of how luminous OLED TVs used to be. It even outshines many LCD 3K HDR TVs in terms of peak and sustained brightness capacity. That said, it underperforms the peak brightness capabilities of its cousin the C8 by at least a couple hundred nits and also underperforms against Sony’s A8F OLED TV by around 100 nits. In other words, it offers roughly the same peak brightness as the 2017 B7 did, though this model offers more consistently higher sustained brightness for ordinary and HDR video sources.
This last detail about the B8 is minor but worth mentioning. LG’s C8 and higher 2018 OLED 4K TVs all support the newer, faster Alpha 9 processor put out by LG for this year. The B8 does not. Instead it still uses the 2017 Alpha 7 version found in last year’s models. Since WebOS 3.5 is very efficient and agile on processing power, you probably won’t notice any issues with the Alpha 7 but it is slower than the 9 version.
Value vs. Price & Bottom Line
In terms of overall value for price, the B8 is a superb choice and offers what we consider to be the best value of all 2018 OLED TVs we’ve looked at so far. Yes it underperforms the C8 in some key metrics but the underperformance is minor and more than made up for by the majority of this TV’s specs being excellent and comparable to those of the C8. The B8’s lower price is worth the difference if you want to save a bit of money.
Key LG OLED B8 4K HDR TV Specs
- Screen sizes: 55 inch OLED55B8PUA, 65 inch OLED65B8PUA, (TV being reviewed is 55 inches)
- Smart TV: WebOS 3.5
- HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
- VP9 Included. Yes
- HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
- HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
- HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Hybrid Log Gamma, Dolby Vision
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
- Screen Lighting: OLED Display
- Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
- Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
- Remotes: LG ThinQ-capable remote with Voice assistant
- Connectivity: 4 HDMI (all of them 2.0a and HDCP 2.2) ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out,
- Contrast Ratio: infinite (native, real contrast)
- Peak Brightness: 775 nits (cd/m2)
- 3D Technology: N/A
- Processor: Alpha 7
Display Performance Metrics
The following are the several categories of key display metrics for picture performance in the LG OLED B8 4K HDR TV. They may vary slightly from unit to unit so they should not be taken as absolutes. However, they should maintain a generally high level of similarity in all units, making them good enough to be reliable indicators of quality. Different sizes of TV display can change some of these metrics slightly (for example, larger edge-lit LCD 4K TVs tend to have weaker local dimming and peak brightness) but this applies much less often to OLED TVs since each pixel creates its own brightness. The LG B8 maintains pretty much identical display specs in all of its sizes though some TV models come with specs variations for certain specific sizes.
The following metrics of display performance for contrast, black level, color performance, brightness and motion handling (all of which are the most important aspects of display performance) essentially bear out what we said above about the B8 OLED model: This is one fantastic 4K TV in general that performs exceptionally well across the board. The B8 isn’t quite as good as its cousins for 2018 but it comes very, very close.
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast:
These crucial display specs in any 4K TV are all also entwined together as far as display performance goes. Thus they deserve being covered together. However, a clarification needs to be made here. Specifically, OLED TVs don’t come with local dimming the way it works in an LCD TV. Unlike LCD TVs, in which local dimming is created by LEDs behind the screen being turned off individually or in zones, OLED display brightness is created inside each individual pixel on the screen. In 4K TVs, this means that 8.29 million pixels can be made to shine or completely stop emitting light as needed for a virtually perfect control of dimming and brightness. This is essentially called OLED dimming and it far outperforms its local dimming counterpart in any LCD TV in terms of sheer precision. The LG B8, as an OLED TV, obviously comes with OLED dimming and yep, it performs on delivering these key specs admirably with its version of the technology.
Again, a crucial thing about OLED technology is that light in pixels can be completely shut off in the display. Thus, the TV’s maximum black level can be total when needed, with no light at all coming from darkened sections of the screen. A further result of this is perfect, infinite contrast ratios. All OLED TVs are capable of the above to pretty much the same degree. However what the LG B8 does is create a perception of even better contrast because its capacity for brightness is relatively high.
Peak brightness is the maximum possible spot HDR or SDR luminosity of a complete 4K TV display or differently sized sections of its screen as measured in units of brightness called nits (or cd/m2, which is the same thing). Sustained brightness is the highest possible sustained HDR or SDR brightness that the TV screen can manage across its entire screen or parts of it for a prolonged period of time (a few minutes or more). In other words, Peak brightness consists of how luminous sudden bright spots can become and sustained brightness measures prolonged luminosity in content on the display.
In terms of both sustained and peak brightness, the LG B8 performs very well. It’s dimmer than the best OLED 4K HDR TVs of 2018 (particularly the C8) but it’s still capable of exceptionally high peak brightness by conventional LCD TV standards or by the standards of older OLED TVs. It’s capacity for sustained and Peak brightness is especially high in HDR mode but even when set to normal SDR content, this TV does a very decent job of staying luminous and produces more than enough overall brightness during content playback to be perfectly viewable in even a brightly lit room. We also commend the B8 for keeping both peak and sustained brightness high across the board for different areas of illuminated display area. In this it performs much better than any of its 2017 predecessors did.
The numbers below demonstrate what we mean:
LG B8 OLED SDR Brightness
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 354 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 398 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 399 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 162 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR brightness: 378 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 156 nits
LG B8 OLED HDR Brightness
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 598 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 776 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 752 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 160 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR brightness: 703 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 151 nits
LG’s B8 OLED TV delivers superb HDR and SDR color performance though in terms of these specs, Sony’s A8F and LG’s other 2018 OLEDs outperform it very slightly on wide color gamut performance. That said, the LG B8 is one stellar 4K OLED TV for sheer color quality, vibrancy and richness. In terms of key metrics for high dynamic range color delivery, this model does great, with 98.00% DCI-P3 color space delivery and over 72.9% of the even larger and much more difficult to cover Rec 2020 space being covered. That’s pretty impressive. In terms of 10-bit color support for smooth gradations between 1.07 billion HDR color tones, the B8 does a fantastic job, creating smooth and exquisitely gradated color variations in content that has been formatted for 10-bit color delivery. Additionally, even at the maximum levels of this TV’s considerably powerful luminosity output, the B8 manages to conserve color most quality and vibrancy. It does however fail to show very intense colors with high brightness even though its peak luminosity for white light and very light colors is exceptionally high.
Most importantly, if you use the B8 to watch HDR movies and shows in Dolby Vision or HDR10+ what you get on the screen looks superb. However, even for reproduction of normal SDR TV and movie content, LG’s most affordable 2018 4K HDR TV is a great television, delivering excellent vibrancy, accuracy and realism for most reasonably well-produced content from cable TV, streaming sources, media players and external devices of any kind. The B8 also upscales non-4K video sources very nicely for a smooth, extra-sharp level of picture quality that’s particularly great when this TV is used to view 1080p or 720p movies and shows from TV, cable, streaming or media device sources.
White balance delta E, color delta E and Gamma in the LG OLEDB8 sit at very good levels of 0.10, 1.21 and 2.1 respectively after calibration. Even right out of the box, these same levels are pretty decent, sitting at 2.9, 3.1 and 2.23 respectively. We’ve seen better in cheaper 4K TVs but these aren’t bad values at all. Older OLED TVs tended towards cooler, rather distracting temperatures due to the bluish light of their organic light emitting diodes. The B8 however manages to produce excellent color temperature overall.
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
Because of how their display technology works, OLED TVs generally offer excellent motion blur control in particular and motion handling in general. Since each pixel contains its own light source and color filters, the shifts between colors in pixels that create the perception of fluid changes in content happen much more quickly than they do in even the best LCD TV (which has to rely on light from LEDs behind the pixel surface). Overall thus, motion blur on the LG B8 is downright minimal, with a specific response time of between 0.3 and 2 milliseconds. No LCD TV can compare to this and even the best LCD/LED models typically do no better than 9 milliseconds.
Motion interpolation of content at all major typical frame rates (24p movies, 30fps TV content, high frame rate streamed video and games is something the B8 delivers wonderfully on its native 120Hz display panel. 24p Blu-ray discs, DVDs, cable TV and broadcast TV sources as well as streaming media from both native apps and apps inside external streaming media devices can all be played judder-free if they happen to be 24p formatted. Backlight flicker is essentially nonexistent in the B8 since it’s an OLED TV and has no backlights.
Input Performance for Gaming and PC:
LG’s 2018 OLED TVs, like the 2016 and the 2016 models before them all offer excellent input lag performance for console gaming and PC use at different resolution, color and HDR settings as well as at different refresh rates. Sony’s OLED TVs underperform slightly in these metrics but the B8 delivers them superbly almost across the board. This combined with its HDR support specs makes this particular LG OLED 4K HDR TV into one fantastic console gaming TV for 4K, HDR and normal 1080p Xbox or PS4 Pro gamers. The following are the specific specs for its gaming performance in different console setups:
- 4k @ 60Hz: 21.2 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 20.9 ms
- 1080p @ 120Hz: 21 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 21 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz + HDR: 29.2 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 50 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 22
- 4K @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + 8 bit HDR: N/A
- 4K with interpolation activated: 92 ms (leave the interpolation off)
We should also note that LG has given the B8 some very good compatibility with PC hardware for use as a huge PC monitor. This TV offers up full 4:4:4 chroma subsampling support and 1080p @ 120 Hz support when coupled with PC rigs. Other fully supported resolutions and color settings for PC connectivity include [email protected], [email protected], 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4. On the other hand, the B8 doesn’t offer 4K video at 120Hz, which is a disappointment but to be expected because it can only feed PC video sources via HDMI, which caps at 60Hz.
The LG OLED B8 offers up a full package of today’s now standard and essential advanced connectivity specs. No user should have connectivity problems with this model for connecting it to pretty much any external media device or hard drive as long as all hardware is in working order. In other words, the B8 comes equipped with multiple HDMI, USB ports and other crucial connectivity slots. The television comes with full HDMI 2.0 HDR supported bandwidth in all four HDMI ports. Another thing we like about the B8 is that it offers full Dolby Vision support and pass-through. Few 4K TVs offer this, even in 2018 so far. The following are its ports and their specifications:
- HDMI : 4 (all with HDCP 2.2 and full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- USB : 3 (USB 3.0)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out 3.5 mm : 1
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
- HDR10 support: Yes
- Hybrid Log Gamma HDR support: Yes
- Dolby Vision HDR: Yes
The LG OLEDB8PUA TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types.
- 1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough ARC DTS
- 1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough Optical DTS
LG manufactured the B8 in two different sizes, 55 inches and 65 inches. Unlike the C8, this model has no giant 77 inch version, sadly. The two B8 editions sell for the following prices, found in the links below at the time of this writing. Bear in mind that these are subject to sometimes frequent downward change and it’s a good idea to click the following Amazon links for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this model.