Sound & Vision: TV's biggest issue is reflective screens

OPINION: One concern that has dominated the conversation more than anything else about TVs is brightness.

And I’ll admit, I’ve contributed many words to the discussion, whether it’s “this cheap TV lacks brightness” to “this premium TV is incredibly bright”, or “this OLED could be brighter”. It’s always at the centre of the conversation.

Well, I’m changing the subject. Slightly. What should be the focus is dealing with glares and reflections.

Brightness can help, to bring that word up again, but only to a certain extent. Reflections are eased away when there’s something bright and colourful on the screen, but when a dark scene is displayed, that’s when reflections take you out of the moment.

It’s annoying watching a film, a dark scene shows up and there seems to be an extra person with the rest of the characters. That extra person is your reflection.

LG C3 OLED Prime Day

It’s the one area of TV manufacturing that I’m surprised there hasn’t been as big a focus on. Some OLED TVs have what’s called a Vanta Black polarizer, and it aims to bounce light off and away from the screen, so reflections aren’t as, well, reflective. Reflections are about 70% less bright compared to a conventional OLED screen.

The problem is that they currently feature in OLEDs that use LG Display’s META MLA panels, which cost a fair bob. Furthermore, there are murmurs online that next year’s LG C4 OLED (an explosive name to be sure) won’t be getting the MLA panel, so this technology won’t trickle down to the mid-range models yet. That’s a shame.

But it points to a mild annoyance I have about this sort of technology being reserved for the most expensive models. That doesn’t seem fair, and even if this tech is expensive to implement, why hasn’t someone come up with a screen that achieves a similar purpose for more affordable models?

Every time I watch my TV at home, I can see the reflection of the wall beam above my seating position and there’s nothing I can do other than move the TV. I’ve come to accept its presence when the lights come on – it’s become part of the viewing experience with letterboxed films/content.

Every TV brand is chasing higher peak brightness, but few are as interested in dealing with glare and reflections. Very little has changed for years. It’s a plague and TV manufacturers should be taking more decisive action in curbing the menace of glares and reflections.