As we drift into the latter end of 2019, the question on many consumers’ lips will be this: how exactly does the new LG B9 OLED compare to last year’s LG B8?
These are two of the cheapest OLED TVs on the market – only beaten by the Hisense O8B – and remain the entry-level model in LG’s OLED lineup. But their equivalent position in the lineup doesn’t mean they’re equal in all things.
With the LG B9 OLED now on sale in the UK, and due to follow shortly in the US, Australia, and elsewhere, we’ve pulled together a side by side comparison of the pricing, specifications, and format support of the two televisions, to give any prospective buyers the best idea of whether to go for LG B9 or LG B8 in their hunt for an affordable OLED.
LG B9 vs LG B8 pricing
This is an easy one. Almost exactly the same as the B8 model, the LG B9 started at £1,529 (around $1,995 / AU$2,900) RRP for the 55-inch model, and £2,499 (around $3,055 / AU$4,530) RRP for the 65-inch model.
However, the B9 is already being discounted down to $1,399 / £1,299 (around AU$2,030) for the 55-inch OLED55B9, or $2,299 / £1,799 (around AU$3,340) for the 65-inch OLED65B9. The B8 is a bit cheaper than that now, but less easily found now that the newer model is on the market.
Like the B8, the LG B9 undercuts this year’s C9 OLED by a good $200/£200, making it the most affordable of the LG TV 2019 range, and quite a bit cheaper than the LG E9 or LG W9 sets, which feature even more premium materials and higher-end speakers – despite all having the same OLED panel.
LG B9 vs LG B8 processor
That price drop comes with a catch, though. Like the LG B8 OLED before it, the LG B9 OLED uses an older processor than its current-generation siblings. So instead of the a9 Gen 2 processor found in the LG C9 and E9, you’ll find the a7 Gen 2 processor instead.
By comparison, the LG B8 uses the a7 Gen 1 processor, so you can expect something of an upgrade when it comes to the picture processing in the new model.
Our only complaints with the B8 last year were the middling HD upscaling and occasional video noise in dark scenes – especially frustrating given OLED’s reputation for deep blacks and dark scene control. These problems persist, in comparison with the new C and E Series models, though they’re still minor issues.
LG B9 vs LG B8 specs and design
Processor aside, is anything materially different with the design, formats, or inputs of the LG B8 and LG B9?
The B9’s screen is essentially the same size, though the TV stand it rests on has a slightly different shape that’s a bit shorter and slimmer than the B8’s stand, measuring 38 mm high and 246 mm deep rather than 45 mm high and 220 mm deep. The weight of the set, too, has risen, coming in at 19.9kg rather than the B8’s 17.7kg (including the stand).
In terms of audio, the output has gone up considerably too, doubling the volume of the B8’s 20W speakers, to 40W output on the B9. The B9 also adds in a subwoofer, making for 2.2 channel speakers (like those on the C9) rather than the B8’s 2.0 channel setup.
If you’re connecting your headphones or smartphone to the TV via Bluetooth, you’ll be pleased to know that the B9 uses the latest 5.0 standard instead of the B8’s older 4.2 connection, meaning the B9 should connect faster and more reliably.
Both are 4K TVs with HDR panels, and support the dynamic Dolby Vision HDR format, as well as Dolby Atmos surround sound. They both ship with LG’s sleek magic remote and streamlined webOS smart TV platform. With LG’s ThinQ AI integrated, too, you’re getting a very smart system, with built-in Alexa / Google Assistant support and the ability to connect to Google Home and Amazon Echo devices.
LG B9 vs LG B8: takeaway
LG’s B Series is a smart bet for anyone looking to get an OLED TV into their home at a reasonable price, even if what counts for ‘budget’ in the world of OLEDs is still a lot more expensive than cheap LCDs.
In our LG B9 OLED review, we found the B9 had the same weaknesses at the B8, in terms of occasional video noise and processing that can’t compete with higher-end sets. The new OLED panel, however, benefits from the same gorgeously deep blacks and color contrast as the C9 and E9. The drop in processing may hurt it, but you’ll still getting a benchmark of quality as with last year’s B8 model.
Given current pricing, the B9 is likely worth the upgrade, through if a couple of hundred dollars / pounds is going to make the difference, the older B8 OLED model was still a truly capable TV from 2018, and is well worth the price in its own right.