[UPDATE: It seems that a few readers of the original version of the story below were taking my mentions of what were actually tiny qualifications about the update to mean that LG has somehow only delivered a partial fix for its OLED problems. This was not my intention; for me LG really has to all intents and purposes delivered a full solution with its software update.
I’ve therefore toned down/reduced the qualifications in the version of the article that now appears below, as I don’t believe the original balance fairly reflected the results LG has achieved.]
Just before Christmas I posted a story about a couple of major picture problems that were being reported across the globe by owners of all models of LG’s 2018 OLED TVs.
One issue involved a strange flashing effect with near-black content – particularly apparent during fades to or out of black. The other was exaggerated noise during very dark scenes – particularly (though not exclusively) with streamed content.
In fact, I was able to confirm the existence of both of these issues myself, on an OLED 55B8 I had in my test room.
Back before Christmas, there was concern that the problems were caused by some sort of hardware failure, since there didn’t seem to be a discernible pattern to when they started to appear on different 2018 LG OLED models.
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I’m happy to report today, though, that LG has lived up to the promise it made at the CES in January by creating a firmware update that tackles both problems.
LG has shown me the new firmware (currently version number 04.10.31, though this could vary by region) working on 55-inch and 65-inch C8 models, and I can confirm that it hugely reduces the blocky, grey ‘wash’ and strange posterization issues that were so aggressively visible before. Even with especially tough scenes such as the ‘peeping Tom’ sequence that starts at around 35:27 in Vikings Season 5, Part 2, Episode 12 on Amazon Prime Video.
The noise hasn’t completely vanished. But it appears so much more rarely and is so much more subdued than it was before the new firmware was applied that you’ll hardly ever notice it. Particularly if you use the Standard picture preset. In fact, any residual noise feels more an Amazon issue than anything to do with the TVs.
Just make sure you turn off the Eco picture settings if you’re using the Standard mode, otherwise you can experience some black crush in dark areas following the update if you’re watching in a dark room.
Turning to the flashing problem, the previously problematic fade in from black you get in Netflix’s The Last Kingdom at 21:30 into episode eight of season three now appears with scarcely a trace of the old pulsing effect.
LG tells me that the solution to both the flashing and elevated noise issues involved adjusting the near black management of its picture processing engine.
While this is all great news for owners of 2018 LG OLED TVs, though, LG confirmed to me that because its solution is specific to LG’s processing, it won’t work with other brands of OLED TV experiencing similar issues. Each brand will have to develop its own fixes through updates to its own video processing engines.
Sony 2018 OLED TVs in particular seem to have the same sort of problems. In fact, I saw the issues for myself recently on a 65A9F – and having pointed them out to Sony, the brand has now acknowledged to me that there is indeed an issue. It is currently working on a solution.
There are reports of similar but significantly less aggressive issues on some Philips (Europe) OLED TVs, too.
LG tells me that the firmware update that fixes the issues on LG’s 2018 OLED models is essentially finalized already, and so is expected to start rolling out to C8, E8, W8 and G8 models by early April at the latest. The US and Europe will likely get the update first, with other territories following shortly after.
If you own one of LG’s B8 OLED sets, you’ll have to wait a little longer for your update to arrive. This is because LG has prioritized the update for models that use its Alpha 9 chipset (since there are more of them).
I’m assured, though, that the update for the B8’s Alpha 7 chipset is already up and running in LG’s labs, and so shouldn’t be too far behind the Alpha 9 update.
While it would obviously have been preferable if the issues (the exact causes of which remain unclear) addressed by LG’s new firmware fix hadn’t shown up in the first place, LG certainly deserves credit for the seemingly substantial amount of effort it’s put into fixing them. And in case you’re wondering, LG assures me that no such issues should affect its imminent new 2019 OLED range.
Feel free to let me know via my Twitter account below when the update arrives on your 2018 LG OLED set.