When it comes to TVs, more is the new black. As the visual fidelity of film and television gets ever more refined, the visual subtleties and dynamics can be lost by TVs that aren’t able to produce a true black tone. It’s a benchmark of a monitor’s quality along with contrast ratio, and no TV can produce a more complete black than LG’s latest generation of OLED monitors.
Some of the most visually compelling films are awash in deep contrasts and dark tones. Even those that are tonally bright benefit from a display that can faithfully render the full spectrum between light and dark. A quality film projector like you’d see at a theater can do this by painting the screen with light, creating darkness by the absence of light. That’s essentially what the OLED does.
OLED technology — which stands for “organic light-emitting diode” — is a break from CRT and LCD methods. In the latter two cases, backlit panels provide a bulk source of light that illuminates every pixel, even those that are supposed to be displaying black. That means light leaks into areas of the screen where no information is being displayed, akin to light pollution produced by large cities that obscures the starfield.
LG’s OLED displays, by contrast, illuminate images on a pixel-by-pixel basis. That means only the parts of the screen that have something to show get the light, creating an infinite contrast ratio and a depth of black that’s as deep as the void of space.
If this sounds like a minor detail that only videophiles should care about — TVs already look great, don’t they? — it’s not. The difference between an OLED and LCD is similar to the difference between an LCD and an old CRT — it’s profound, and approaches the limits of what the eye can perceive.
By displaying light only where it’s needed, LG’s OLED displays take a major step toward not only re-creating an image as the filmmaker intended, but also toward presenting images as they appear in reality. So not only will the backdrop of space in Star Wars actually look like space, your eye is that much closer to forgetting that what it’s seeing is being projected through a screen.
Comparison images can help to visualize the difference, but these are exaggerated for computer screens that simply aren’t capable of displaying the comparison fairly. In the end, it’s a difference that has to be experienced to be understood.
So get to your local TV retailer and check out an LG OLED screen for yourself. But be warned: Once you see true black, you won’t be able to go back.