The differences between the Sony XBR65A1E and LG OLED65C7P are mainly concentrated in video processing, sound capabilities and design. However, the XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P also differ in how they implement the Automatic Brightness Limiter, and track the PQ (Perceptual Quantizer) curve with HDR10 signals.
Design: One Slate (Sony XBR65A1E) vs Blade Slim (LG OLED65C7P)
The defining characteristic of the One Slate design used in Sony XBR65A1E is minimalism. There is nothing to distract you from the picture: no visible stand or speakers, and even the Sony logo is smaller than usual and has been moved from its traditional central position to the left corner. There is an illumination LED on the XBR65A1E but it can be turned off so that it doesn’t light up the surface beneath the bottom edge of the screen. The LG OLED65C7P, on the other hand, has a more conventional design, and a more visible bezel, at least with light present in the room. Nevertheless, as the name Blade Slim suggests, there is an emphasis on how thin the OLED module on the OLED65C7P is in the top-half. Even the section on the back where electronics and inputs reside measures only approximately 1.8 inches. There are some parallels that can be drawn between the Sony XBR65A1E’s glass back panel and the Picture-on-Glass design used by some of the high-end LG OLED TVs. However, the OLED65C7P uses the Blade Slim design instead, as previously mentioned. Therefore, there is a difference in the material and the color of the back panel on the XBR65A1E vs OLED65C7P. While the XBR65A1E has a black glass panel, the OLED65C7P utilizes two different colors: neutral for the top half, and white for the section where the electronics and terminals are located which is made of plastic. The back panel on the XBR65A1E features a distinct horizontal bar in the middle. It not only accommodates the actuators, but also adds constructional strength to the TV.
Stand: Kickstand (Sony XBR65A1E) vs Trapezium Stand (LG OLED65C7P)
When the XBR65A1E is mounted on a table-top surface, the TV leans towards its rear support. The LG OLED65C7P, on the other hand, uses a more traditional type of a trapezium stand that ensures that the OLED65C7P sits straight-up instead of at an angle like the XBR65A1E does. The stand on the OLED65C7P provides a clearance of approximately 1.6 inches beneath the screen whereas there is none on the XBR65A1E due to the kickstand used. Both of them can be mounted on a wall using a compatible VESA 400×200 bracket with the Sony XBR65A1E, and VESA 300×200 with the LG OLED65C7P. The rear support on the XBR65A1E folds in case of a wall-mounting.
Audio: Acoustic Surface (Sony XBR65A1E) vs Down-firing Speakers (LG OLED65C7P);
Decoding: Dolby Atmos (LG OLED65C7P only)
The Sony XBR65A1E is the first TV to utilize Acoustic Surface technology which invisibly vibrates the screen to produce sound. Specifically, there are two 25 mm actuators for the left and right channels placed at the back of the XBR65A1E. Since the speaker system is 2.1 channel, there is a 80 mm subwoofer on the XBR65A1E as well. It’s located inside the kickstand. One of the advantages of this placement is that the fabric material, which is used for the removable cover of the kickstand, can dampen bass to a degree. The total audio power output is 50 Watts, with 10 Watts being allocated to the subwoofer. Since only mid-range and high-frequency sounds are emitted directly from the TV screen, there are no visible distortions in the picture caused by the actuators. The Acoustic Surface technology on the XBR65A1E not only projects sounds directly towards you (provided you don’t sit too far off-axis) but, unlike typical front-firing speakers, it allows voices to be almost directly linked to the people on the screen. Since the LG OLED65C7P has down-firing speakers, dialogues and voices are not projected as clearly as on the XBR65A1E. The total audio power output on the OLED65C7P is 40 Watts, half of which is allocated to the subwoofers which are part of a 2.2 channel speaker system. The LG OLED65C7P is the only one of the two TVs that is able to decode Dolby Atmos tracks for a playback via its internal speakers. Alternatively, Dolby Atmos can be bit-streamed to a compatible receiver.
Same OLED Panel with 3840×2160 resolution
The Sony XBR65A1E and LG OLED65C7P use the same latest generation W-OLED panel. The resolution is 3840×2160, meaning there are more than 8 million individual pixels, with each and every one of them producing its own light. However, instead of having sub-pixels that emit distinct red, green and blue, both the XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P produce dichromatic white light on a pixel level, which necessitates the use of color filters. The dichromatic light source results in less narrow peaks in the green, and especially the red spectral regions in comparison to the blue. Although this doesn’t prevent XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P from covering the DCI-P3 color space almost entirely, it means that some improvements need to be made to the W-OLED technology in order for any future TVs using these type of panels to be able to fully cover the BT.2020 color space, which is significantly larger than DCI-P3.
Same perfect black level; LG OLED65C7P can get brighter with high APL (Average Picture Level) SDR content such as hockey than Sony XBR65A1E
Since OLED is a self-emissive technology, individual pixels can be completely shut off so that no light is emitted. As a result, both the Sony XBR65A1E and LG OLED65C7P have a perfect black level of 0 nits, provided there is no ambient light that gets reflected off the screen. Even under bright lighting conditions, the XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P handle reflections equally well despite the fact they both have glossy screen finish. In terms of full-screen brightness, both TVs are able to exceed the level that SDR content is usually mastered to (i.e. 100 nits) on a full-field. However, it needs to be said that the difference in the brightness headroom provided by the XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P when showing high APL (Average Picture Level) content depends on the portion on the screen that is lit. On a full-field white (100% window size), there is an almost non-essential variation between the XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P since they can reach up to approximately 150 nits. However, the OLED65C7P is able to significantly ramp up the brightness as the window size decreases due to the more relaxed ABL (Auto Brightness Limiter) in comparison to the XBR65A1E, which implements a more strict ABL up until at least 50% window size. Therefore, when watching content with preponderance of bright elements such as hockey, you’ll be able to make the overall image brighter on the OLED65C7P in comparison to the XBR65A1E, should the ambient light conditions necessitate such adjustment.
The XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P are equally suitable for movies and TV shows in SDR since the Auto Brightness Limiter behaves identically with low to mid APL content (i.e. most SDR content)
As previously mentioned, both the XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P have an Auto Brightness Limiter. It basically means that the larger the brightly illuminated portion of the screen is, the dimmer the XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P get. Conversely, small areas of the screen do get brighter than a full-field. However, most SDR content has low-to-mid APL, so it is unlikely to notice any drop in luminance unless the scene is overly bright and you’ve calibrated your TV to more than 150 nits. Furthermore, the Sony XBR65A1E and LG OLED65C7P can reach approximately 430 nits in 25% and 10% window sizes with SDR signal. This means that the XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P are sufficiently bright for viewing even under high ambient light conditions, provided the SDR content doesn’t have high average picture level.
Difference in PQ EOTF tracking with HDR10 content:
the Sony XBR65A1E clips 4,000 nits highlights, but mid-tones are not darkened;
the LG OLED65C7P resolves detail up 4,000 nits but darkens mid-tones
The transfer function that is used with HDR10 and Dolby Vision feeds is called PQ (Perceptual Quantizer) EOTF (Electro Optical Transfer Function). The digital code words in the 10-bit HDR10 signal are mapped to specific luminance values, regardless of the actual brightness capability of the XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P. In other words the PQ is an absolute transfer function. When the HDR10 content is mastered to a brightness level unattainable by the Sony XBR65A1E and LG OLED65C7P, they resort to tone-mapping in order to quantize the dynamic range of the content. The tone-mapping process is not standardized, though, meaning that the XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P implement it differently. The LG OLED65C7P tends to start the luminance roll-off a bit earlier than the Sony XBR65A1E, which allows for more detail in the highlights to be resolved (especially when the content is mastered to 4,000 nits), but also causes some tones in the diffuse white region, in addition to brighter mid-tones to be rendered slightly darker in comparison to the Sony XBR65A1E. Therefore, the effect of the more relaxed ABL on the OLED65C7P is attenuated to a degree but this only applies to HDR content with static metadata. Generally, the peak brightness in small specular highlights doesn’t exceed 800 nits in either the XBR65A1E or the OLED65C7P, at least when neutral color temperature is used (D65 white point).
Both TVs are able to generate dynamic metadata
It needs to be said that HDR10 content is only optimized for scenes with highlights due to the fact that static metadata defines maxCLL (Maximum Content Light Level) which doesn’t change for the entire duration of the content. In an attempt to rectify this, OLED65C7P utilizes Active HDR processing for analyzing individual frames, and generating dynamic metadata on the fly. The Sony XBR65A1E’s Dynamic Contrast Enhancer also performs frame-by-frame optimization. The setting which controls the Active HDR processing on the LG OLED65C7P is called Dynamic Contrast, and it can be set to Low, Medium, High or Off, so you can find the right balance between preventing the dynamic range from being unnecessary compressed during scenes without highlights, on the one hand, and avoiding any further alternation of the director’s intended look (besides the one already introduced by the tone-mapping), on the other.
Dolby Vision support: OLED65C7P (out of the box) vs XBR65A1E (after a firmware update)
There is no such dilemma with Dolby Vision content because the dynamic metadata is generated during post-production, so it conforms the director’s intentions. Another advantage over the HDR10 is that the Dolby’s mapping engine is aware of the specific characteristics (such as peak brightness, color volume, etc) of the display, meaning it can provide better tone-mapping. The LG OLED65C7P supports Dolby Vision out of the box whereas the Sony XBR65A1E requires a future firmware update to enable support for this format. According to Sony, the update will be available later this year. It will also bring support for HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), which is a different format of HDR aimed primarily at TV broadcasts, to the Sony XBR65A1E. The LG OLED65C7P supports HLG out of the box.
Identical DCI-P3 color gamut coverage and panel bit depth;
Only the OLED65C7P has a Color Management System
Considering that color bit depth and DCI-P3 gamut coverage are tied to the panel of the TV, rather than video processing, it’s not surprising that color rendition is mostly identical on the Sony XBR65A1E and LG OLED65C7P. The panel bit depth is 10-bit, meaning both of them are able to show more than a billion color shades. The DCI-P3 color space coverage is approximately 99% for the mid-tones, and slightly lower for specular highlights that are above 1,000 nits. Therefore, the Sony XBR65A1E and LG OLED65C7P do not render some of the brightest colors in specular highlights as vivid as they should be. Unlike the Sony XBR65A1E, the LG OLED65C7P has a Color Management System, so you can adjust saturation, tint and luminance independently for the primary colors. Although this may improve the color accuracy, it doesn’t lead to an expansion in the DCI-P3 coverage.
Sony XBR65A1E is better at handling low resolution, low bit-rate, highly compressed content;
720p and 1080p uspcaling to 4K is mostly identical on the XBR65A1E and LG OLED65C7P
Neither of them has any significant trouble with the transition from black to dark gray, which was somewhat problematic with earlier OLED TVs. The smooth near-black gradation is a result from both improvements in the panel itself, as well as the fact that the black level setting is non-linear in order to provide more granular control over the transition from black to dark gray. The LG OLED65C7P resorts to processing content at a higher bit depth but this is intended only to prevent macroblocking artifacts near-black whereas the Sony XBR65A1E is equipped with a more advanced, user adjustable Super Bit Mapping technology. By engaging the Smooth Gradation menu setting on the XBR65A1E, 8-bit or 10-bit source content is processed with 14-bit precision. This prevents quantization errors (which may manifest themselves as various image artifacts, color banding in particular). How much the Super Bit Mapping improves the picture quality on the Sony XBR65A1E in comparison to the LG OLED65C7P depends on the quality of encoding and the bit-rate of the source content. The Sony XBR65A1E’s advantage is most visible with highly compressed, low bit-rate sources. Furthermore, the Sony XBR65A1E is better equipped for upscaling low resolution content to 4K resolution than the OLED65C7P. The reason being is the X1 Extreme image processor on the Sony XBR65A1E can access tens of thousands picture patterns in two databases. One of the Sony’s propriety databases is dedicated to noise reduction while the other is for super resolution (i.e. enhancing the clarity of upscaled content). The before and after data references allow the Sony XBR65A1E to identify compression noise and other artifacts in the source, and remove them in an optimal way. Whilst not quite on par with the Sony XBR65A1E, the LG OLED65C7P upscaling is also good. Furthermore, if you’re watching native 4K content, or even some pristine quality 1080p content, such as Blu-ray discs, the difference between the Sony XBR65A1E and LG OLED65C7P is minimal.
Motion: Black Frame Insertion (only Sony XBR65A1E)
The enhanced video processing on the Sony XBR65A1E also leads to less visible artifacts when the motion compensated frame interpolation is engaged. Although this model is not impulse driven (like plasma TVs were), the nearly instantaneous pixel response time and the 120Hz native refresh rate, which the LG OLED65C7P also has, prevent fast moving objects from having dark trails following them. Since individual frames remain on the screen until the next refresh – a method known as sample-and-hold, and used by both the Sony XBR65A1E and LG OLED65C7P, some blurring is still possible, depending on the specific content. The reason is that your eyes are moving as they track an object traveling across the screen whereas the frame doesn’t change until the next refresh, which happens every 8.3 ms for 120Hz TVs. Unlike the LG OELD65C7P, the Sony XBR65A1E utilizes a black frame insertion technique in order to address this type of motion blur. If you choose to use it, though, the brightness will be reduced and some screen flickering may be observed, depending on how susceptible to noticing it you are.
XBR65A1E and OLED65C7P approach SDR to HDR conversion differently
The Object-based HDR remaster is applied across most of the Sony A1E SDR picture presets in order for color and contrast of non-HDR content, such as Blu-ray discs, DVDs, and TV broadcasts to be enhanced. On the other hand, LG OLED TVs have a dedicated picture preset called HDR Effect. The advantage to the Sony A1E’s method of individually analyzing and remastering objects is that the average picture level doesn’t need to lowered significantly in order to provide headroom for highlights, which LG OLED TVs are somewhat prone to when HDR Effect is used.
Smart TV: Android TV (XBR65A1E) vs webOS (OLED65C7P)
The Sony A1E uses Android TV (version 6.0) whereas 2017 LG OLED TVs rely on the WebOS 3.5 system for their smart TV capabilities. The Sony A1E allows you to access compatible apps on Google Play. There is a built-in microphone in the remote and a future firmware update will enable Google Assistant on the Sony A1E. The LG motion-sensing Magic Remote also has a built-in microphone, and the webOS platform is very intuitive to use.