Haven’t scored tickets to the finals? The latest generation of high-end TVs can make you feel like you’re actually there. Jenneth Orantia reports.
With detail sharp enough to cut bread, colours indistinguishable from reality and silky smooth motion more than capable of keeping up with your favourite footy players on the field, 4K screen resolutions, OLED picture technologies and extra-large screen sizes are very much the order of the day.
If you’re looking for the best possible experience for watching the finals from the comfort of your living room, here are the top TVs to consider.
Price: $4,999 (55″) and $7,499 (65″)
The A1 is Sony’s first stab at an OLED TV for consumers, and it’s been well worth the wait for the Japanese brand’s fans. Opting for a distinctly minimalist design, there’s nothing to distract from the on-screen action, making it easier than ever to suspend disbelief and feel like you’re watching the game in person.
This is partly due to the OLED display, which blows viewers away with its strikingly vivid colours, pure blacks and exceptional contrast, and is partly accomplished by the fact that the stand props the screen up from behind with no gap between your entertainment unit and the screen. And there’s no jarring motion blur for slow motion repeats and tracking shots either.
The unique “speakerless” design sets the A1 apart. A cursory look around the TV and you’d be forgiven for thinking Sony had simply left this feature out, when in fact the speaker is built into the screen itself using what Sony calls “acoustic surface sound technology”. This cleverly gets around the usual size constraints of a built-in speaker by pumping out sound from the entire panel, producing a bigger, immersive screen-shaking audio experience – especially when a goal is scored and the crowd goes wild.
Panasonic was the poster child of premium TVs in the heyday of plasma, and it’s continued to do well with its LED LCD TVs, but we think it’s finally returned to form with its new range of OLED TVs. This is the Panasonic we remember.
The Z1000 is the flagship model for this year. It pairs the exceptional OLED true-to-life colour, stunning contrast and industry-leading black levels with a proprietary “Absolute Black Filter” that neutralises external reflections. This filter is handy if you’re gathered closely around the TV and don’t want to see your face reflected back, or be distracted by light glares while you’re watching the game.
The Z1000 also comes with a specially tuned soundbar integrated into the TV stand. Developed by well-known brand Technics, the 14 speaker units deliver an audio experience that’s far superior to the flat sound typical to a built-in TV speaker. Crank it up, and everything from the blow-by-blow commentary to the crack of the kick can transform your living room sofa into a box seat at the footy.
Samsung QLED Q9
Price: from $9,499 (65”)
Samsung’s version of OLED is QLED, which stands for Quantum dot LED — a next-gen version of the LED LCD technology that’s widely used in entry-level and mid-tier TVs.
QLED adds a special quantum dot film to LCD that provides twice the brightness of OLED. It can also reproduce 100% colour volume, which means it can express all colours at any level of brightness, with colour detail exquisitely captured by the Q9 for that extra dose
One feature we’re disappointed didn’t make the cut to the local Q9 model is the new sports function. Available in overseas markets, this feature notifies you whenever your favourite teams are playing live to ensure you never miss a game.
While reviewers have continued to recommend OLED over QLED for picture quality, the upside of going with Samsung’s technology is that it’s available in larger screen sizes. If money is no object, you can splash out on an enormous 88” Q9 for the same price as a mid-range car ($40K). Impressive.
Samsung The Frame
Price: from $3,299 (55”)
If you’re up for some pre-game shenanigans, tell your mates you have the latest Samsung TV, invite them around on game night, and then feign shock when you’re all in the living room and can’t find the telly.
The Frame takes wall-mounted TVs to the next level. Designed to hang on the wall and blend in with the living room, the kicker is that it when it switches off, it doesn’t turn into a featureless black box like your typical TV. Instead, it displays custom-designed digital art pieces (or your own content, like personal photos, if you prefer). You can even splurge a little extra for a customisable frame, available in white, walnut and beige wood.
Of course, it offers everything you’d expect from a premium flatscreen TV too, including 4K UHD resolution for lifelike picture quality and smart TV functionality for access to Stan, Netflix and other online services. The Samsung Smart View app also ensures you don’t miss any action, letting you stream the game live on your smartphone or tablet over Wi-Fi in case you need to duck out to the kitchen or loo mid-game.
LG Signature OLED W7 (Wallpaper TV)
Price: from $13,499 (65”)
LG’s wallpaper TV is so-named because it’s an impossibly thin 4mm. To put that into perspective, the iPhone 7 is 7.1mm. It’s so skinny that it can’t even fit the usual assortment of ports for plugging in external devices such as a Blu-ray player or games console – these are all connected via an external soundbar, which has the added bonus of significantly pumping up the audio.
When it comes to simulating the live game experience, audio is often overlooked, but nothing beats a good soundbar to reproduce the roar of a crowd, the sharp twang of the horn and the crisp commentary of the presenters. The fact that an excellent one comes with the W7 is bound to make you feel a little better about the steep price tag.
As with Samsung’s The Frame, the W7 is designed to be wall-mounted, and again, LG has taken some sting out of the price with complimentary installation. But the W7 goes one better than its Samsung counterpart in that it’s available in screen sizes of up to 77”. Ask any footy fan: enjoying live sport on your TV is one case where bigger really is better.
The other key difference is that the W7 uses the best-in-breed OLED technology, which produces perfect blacks and more than a billion vivid colours. Importantly, OLED doesn’t suffer from motion blur like older TV technologies, which means your viewing experience won’t by sullied by unsightly streaking (visual trails when an object moves quickly) whenever the ball or players are in motion.
LG Signature OLED TV G7
Price: $9,099 (65”)
If supermodel skinniness doesn’t move the needle, you can save several thousands of dollars by opting for the non-wallpaper version of LG’s Signature OLED TV. It adds a couple of centimetres but otherwise provides all the premium bells and whistles offered with the W7, including OLED display technology, active HDR and smart TV functionality.
The special “cricket” picture mode has been souped up this year to capitalise on the expansive colour gamut and picture-perfect blacks of OLED. Skin tones look more lifelike than ever, while everything from the team jerseys to the footy field burst with colour. Combined with the superior upscaling to 4K resolution, you’ll be able to see beads of sweat and individual blades of grass.
A beefy three-way eight-speaker system has also been seamlessly integrated into the stand, offering 60 watts of surround sound audio. It uses the next-gen Dolby Atmos technology, which isolates each sound to create rich and multi-dimensional audio. If you can’t be physically present at the game, watching it on the G7 is the next best thing.