Maybe the ooohs and aaaaws were in part related to the screen themselves? That the old plasma can compete with what is basically pretty much the best LCD screen there is today is quite telling. A Panasonic VT60 could probably beat the Sony TV, despite only being Full HD. Better contrast, better viewing angles, better, more realistic colors (and the Sony is already far above anything released by other brands). However the OLED TVs are indeed good, and even with the content in Rec 709 and 1080p it would have beaten the old plasma and Sony. Easily. An OLED TV displays black as actual, true black, because they can. They are able to do the same in Rec 709. You don't need HDR for that. They also display more saturated colors. Without WCG. Just look at a higher end Samsung smartphone. They have OLED displays, which display true, proper blacks, and super saturated colors (IMHO that's not natural though...).
Sure, WCG and HDR and UHD improve the picture even further. But the OLED screen is better than the old plasma and new LCD. Regardless of content.
I am surprised that film students have never been at a consumer electronics shop that should have at least some high end LCDs and a couple of OLEDs. Most I have been to have them, including those high end Sony LCDs (which are surprisingly good, I have to say).
Personally I am using a Panasonic plasma, VT30, and I'm really happy. Happier than I could be with _any_ LCD screen. OLED still suffers from a wavy surface that reflects in an unpleasant way, and they suffer from unnatural settings (though maybe that's just what shops love to chose, and there is a well calibrated THX mode or so somewhere in there). Besides, there are issues such as that they don't last very long, have some significant burn in (maybe that has gotten better since my last Samsung smartphone), and cost A LOT.