LG has surpassed itself with its latest flagship W7 Oled television set.
I am not saying this lightly, because its flagship last year, the G6, was such a head-turner. With its Oled (organic light-emitting diode) panel bonded to an oversized glass backing, the G6 gave the impression that its screen was suspended in mid-air.
The new Signature W7 Oled TV set takes this further by removing the glass backing. Its ultra-thin Oled panel (2.57mm) is, instead, attached to the wall using magnetic brackets. A flat umbilical cable connects this screen to the included soundbar, where the TV set's electronics reside.
Paint this cable the same shade as your wall and you won't be able to see the cable from a distance.
This "picture-on-wall" design makes the W7 look like a picture frame, especially if you turn on the Oled Gallery screensaver that cycles through renowned paintings from famous artists on its 65-inch screen.
LG could not resist showboating - when you turn on the TV set, two circular speakers rise from both ends of the soundbar, accompanied by an audio flourish and a Knight Rider-like red LED light at its front.
This soundbar is clearly not your average TV speaker system, as it produces clear and balanced audio. I was surprised by its competent bass performance, though it was better at the mids and highs. It also holds all the connectors, including four HDMI 2.0a ports that are required for High Dynamic Range (HDR) content.
The W7 supports two existing HDR formats - HDR10 and Dolby Vision - that make movies look more realistic and truer to life. It also supports two new formats - Hybrid Log-Gamma for live HDR TV broadcasts and Advanced HDR by Technicolor - though there is no content for these yet.
Despite an increase in the amount of HDR content from providers like Amazon, Netflix and even YouTube, these videos are still relatively few and far between. For non-HDR content, the W7 has an HDR Effect option that increases the brightness and contrast to approximate HDR. While it does make your average TV shows look brighter and more vivid, it is not quite the same as the real thing.
PRICE: $12,888 (available only in 65")
PICTURE FEATURES: Maximum resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, HDR, Dolby Vision
AUDIO FEATURES: 4.2ch, 60W output, 20W woofer, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Surround
OPERATING SYSTEM: WebOS 3.5
CONNECTIVITY: 4 x HDMI 2.0a, 3 x USB, Optical output, Ethernet, Wi-Fi
VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5
The difference HDR makes can be seen in the opening musical routine in La La Land.
The sunlight glinting off the cars stuck in a traffic jam almost made my eyes squint, helped by the fact that the W7 is 25 per cent brighter than last year's models. But the bright sunlight also appeared to cast shadows that slightly obscured the faces of the singers.
As expected of an Oled TV set, the W7 showed its mettle in dark scenes with few light sources, such as the movie's final sequence, where the actors danced in the dark, illuminated only by multiple tiny lights. Thanks to its pixel-dimming feature, the dark parts of the scene remain inky black, with no halo effect from the lights.
The W7 also looked spectacular while playing the Planet Earth II documentary series. Colours pop out vividly while the 4K resolution lets you see every tiny detail. LG's TruMotion feature at low setting also reduces motion blurring without looking unnatural.
The catchphrase for the updated WebOS 3.5 platform on the W7 is "make TV simple again". For some reason, LG thinks that means having new, niche features, like being able to zoom in on a specific area of a video (Magic Zoom) that I tried once and found it more gimmicky than useful.
Nevertheless, WebOS remains one of the best smart-TV platforms I have tested, even if it has far fewer apps than Android TV. And LG did make some useful improvements. For instance, you can bind shortcuts for apps and certain functions to the number keys on the remote control for quick access. Since the W7's Magic Remote control already has Netflix and Amazon buttons, I used the number keys for YouTube and the built-in video player.
The Magic Remote control is similar to the version from last year. Its best feature remains the air-mouse function that lets you move an onscreen cursor by waving the remote control. A more compact Slim Remote control is also included.
At $12,888, the W7 is in a league of its own in terms of pricing. Its unique design is also possibly its biggest drawback. It has to be wall-mounted, which may not be for everyone. Its soundbar is also unlikely to satisfy audiophiles.
As LG uses similar Oled panels for all its Oled TV sets, those looking for a more affordable model may want to look at the entry-level C7, which costs $7,288 for the 65-inch version and $4,688 for the 55-inch model respectively.
•Verdict: The W7 is not without its drawbacks, but it can be a spectacular centrepiece in the right living room. I cannot wait to find out what LG will come up with next year to top the W7.