(Pocket-lint) - The LG OLED B6 was launched in 2016, as the most affordable flat LG OLED TV for that year. That marks it out as something rather special because while the flagship televisions - the Signature G6 and the E6 - offer the picture-on-glass design, the OLED panel you get on the substantially cheaper B6 model is much the same in terms of quality.
With new OLED models announced for 2017 and the B6 seeing discounts from online stores like Amazon, it could be your OLED television of choice.
LG OLED B6 review: Design
- Flat OLED TV
- Available in 55 or 65 inches
- Stand transparency creates floating effect
Coming in 65 or 55 inch sizes, it's the smaller screen that's the real star for us. Sure, the size you choose very much depends on personal preference, but in the average UK home, smaller tends to fit better, not to mention the price difference, with the 65-inch model closer to £3,000.
Like the OLED C6 we've reviewed separately, the B6 offers a slim design through the body, but with the bottom half of the rear carrying a plastic section that contains the brains and connections for the TV. Unlike the flagship model that packs those connections onto the speaker base, this is rather more conventional, which accounts for its more competitive pricing. It also looks cheaper than those higher-tier models, but that's fair, as something has to give to bring the price down.
If you're the sort of person who plans to mount this TV on a wall, then that's no problem at all, as it will be mostly hidden. With connections split between the left-hand side and the back itself, it's fairly easy to hook-up devices without having too many cables on show - but it will need some cable management to keep things tidy.
Talking of keeping things tidy, the stand that comes with the OLED B6 is rather nice too. Bridging the space between the foot of the base and the television is a clear panel. This gives the effect that the TV is floating, if you happen to place it somewhere with line of sight straight through. Of course, you still have to deal with your cables which dampen the effect slightly, and we can't help feeling that for these OLED panels that an external connection box in the fashion used by Samsung (for its One Connect box) might clean things up a bit more.
There's little to complain about though in terms of design. Despite not being at the top tier of LG's ranks, the B6 is a solidly designed TV, with looks that befit the price you're being asked to pay.
LG OLED B6 review: User interface and setup
- webOS 3.0 with Freeview Play
- Netflix, Amazon, Now TV, Play Movies
- 4x HDMI inputs
For a number of generations we've been praising the webOS interface that LG has been gracing its top TVs with. This is refreshingly presented, with an engaging setup to get you started. Although Samsung raised its game to compete in 2016 with a simpler interface we still find webOS a lot of fun when getting started with a new TV.
One of the things the B6 wants to do right from the start is setup control of the connected devices. Some things are seamless - the LG soundbar we connected via optical was immediately recognised - but others are less straightforward. The aim is to give you universal control from the motion controller that LG includes, but how much you commit to that process depends on your setup.
If you're the sort of person who is going to connect a Sky Q box for your TV watching (and this model comes with 12-months free Sky Q in the UK), you might find yourself living in the Sky environment more than the LG TV's environment and doing everything with your Sky remote.
One of the things we like about webOS is the use of cards to enable quick switching around connected features. This is a smart TV, so it comes equipped with a range of its own apps, like enhanced Netflix, Amazon Video, Now TV, BBC iPlayer, Google Play Movies & TV and so on. Most of the major video-on-demand services are covered, although with most TV boxes also now offering those services, you might find you never need to use them.
The advantage of using the native TV services is support for 4K HDR, including Dolby Vision, which is rather more rare. Although Dolby Vision (Dolby's enriched version of HDR) doesn't have a huge amount of content yet, services like Netflix should be your first port of call (The OA, Daredevil, Luke Cage and more). You probably won't get Dolby Vision through a connected set-top box.
So, aside from hooking up the cables to the four HDMI (all supporting 4K HDR, two on the rear, two on the side), connecting to your network (either via Wi-Fi or Ethernet) and hooking up other devices to USB or audio connections, choosing your streaming services is very much a part of getting the best out of this television.
The bundled remote is ok, although we still feel that motion isn't the fastest way to navigate a TV interface. The pointer appears and will let you point and click your way through things, but inevitably using the four-way controller ends up being faster. The key button is that home button that pops-up the cards, letting you jump between services and inputs in a flash.
For those in the UK, this TV also comes with a Freeview Play enabled tuner. That means that you get seamless backward compatibility with catch-up services. If you're watching BBC 1, for example, you can open the guide and scroll back to the programme you've missed, hit play and it will fire up on BBC iPlayer for you to watch. This works for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 too, although the last two of these channels seem to have less content available than the others. Freeview Play is a great service - rivalling YouView - and makes it very simple to jump into catch-up services. Recording is also offered if you attach a hard drive via USB.
LG OLED B6 review: Picture performance and quality
- 3860 x 2160 pixels
- HDR 10 and Dolby Vision support
OLED has been getting rave reviews and that's not unsubstantiated, as this TV tech is heralded for its picture performance. LG's argument has been that producing colour from a display where you have wonderfully deep blacks is better than LCD's approach where such deep shades can't be reached. There is a vibrancy and richness to colours and the blacks are unquestionably deep and serious.
That will come as no surprise and the colour and contrast that this television offers makes every source a visual treat. At 55 inches, your daily telly from channels like BBC HD looks fantastic, while lower quality SD channels are acceptable. But the real glory is saved for richer formats like Blu-ray, both of the Full HD and Ultra HD variety.
It's in these superior formats that this dazzling OLED display goes to work, rich in detail with that dip into darker depths that most LED TVs can't get close to. The same applies to higher-quality streaming services like Netflix, where shows like Luke Cage are a joy to behold, the B6 throwing up a Dolby Vision or HDR notification with a noticeable switch in brightness when you hit that high dynamic range content. The best experience is reserved for Ultra HD Blu-ray, and we partnered this TV with the Panasonic DMP-UB700 to revel in its glory.
There's some tweaking to be done to get this TV to personal perfection and taking on the motion controls is a good place to start to avoid some of the judder that blighted older OLED TVs in those awkward fast pans. The default here isn't the best, but a custom setting of 5 for dejudder and 5 for deblur seems to work for us.
But TV is no longer just about that 4K resolution. With HDR swinging in like the bassline of a soundtrack, the added dynamic range is new and exciting, taking your TV's pictures into realms of realism that detail alone just doesn't deliver. When you hit an HDR source the TV switches to a defined mode that aims to give you the best delivery, but you can still select modes within that for personal preference - dark, bright and vivid - which sort of runs counter to the idea of viewing what the director intended, as well as make some tweaks to the TV's settings.
If there's one area where this OLED TV stumbles, it's in realising the HDR potential. We're not saying it's bad by any measure, because it's not. Feed in something dramatic like The Revenant and you'll be rewarded with stunning presentation of HDR scenes, the low sun cutting through the winter trees with an ambiance that wasn't possible on TVs just a few years ago. But it's here that the brightness that you'll get from an LCD TV - and something like the Samsung KS8000 might be a perfect example - will give you more of an HDR punch. The flipside of that equation is that the scorched earth scenes of Max Mad: Fury Road give the LG's colours a chance to shine and it's glorious.
Herein comes the real consideration about this television. It's an OLED masterclass, with performance that we can't help but like, but newer LG OLED sets in 2017 are designed to be brighter, to better hold off the rivals using that brighter and cheaper LCD technology. With LED TVs being more affordable, OLED has to fight harder to win you over and we'd say that Samsung's leading LED TVs from 2016 should also be considered, unless you specifically want Dolby Vision support.
LG OLED B6 review: Sound quality
- 40W internal speakers with Harman Kardon tuning
LG has included 40 watt speakers on the B6. These come with Harman Kardon tuning and a range of sound modes, and they're pretty good. They lack the gusto of a larger system, but give a good enough showing if they're the only speakers you're planning to use.
In all likelihood you'll be opting to connect to a sound system either via HDMI (there's audio return on HDMI 2 on the side) or via optical, with support for LG's Sound Sync if you have compatible speakers.
The LG OLED B6 is the complete package for a modern smart TV. It supports the latest standards in 4K and HDR, offers Dolby Vision which is a little more special than its competition, as well as a full selection of apps and services for a complete experience.
Although this TV is now a year old and there's the B7 as a replacement, the dropping price of the OLED B6 makes it a screen that's well worth considering. It's hugely capable, it's solidly designed and built, giving you excellent performance whether you're watching TV through the Freeview tuner, hooked-up to the latest Blu-ray player, gaming or streaming from the many services it offers.
The consideration still stands, however, that you'll get a brighter TV with a heftier HDR punch if you consider one of the leading LED screens.
LG OLED B6: Alternatives to consider
The Samsung KS8000 offers a premium slim design and a big picture punch. It might be a mid-range SUHD from Samsung, but it's bright, has plenty of vibrancy and delivers on picture performance. Samsung has refined the user interface of this TV to make it not only fully connected, but simple to use. Physical connection via the One Connect box is also a breeze, leaving lots of love about the Samsung KS8000.
- Samsung KS8000 SUHD TV review: Hitting the 4K HDR sweet spot
- Buy the Samsung 55-inch KS8000 on Amazon.co.uk for £939, or on Amazon.com for $997