It’s always fun to hear the “Oh wow…” from gawking colleagues comparing an OLED TV like this LG C series to various typical LCD TVs. Why worship? It’s the black one, honey. Puppies on velvet. Most excellent starfields. Impress people.
Don’t get me wrong, OLEDs aren’t perfect, no TV tech is. But overall, the viewing experience is as good as it sounds.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart TVs, where you will find reviews of competing offerings, as well as a buyer’s guide on the features to consider when purchasing this type of product.
Design and features
Most of the C1 series display panel (LG’s 65-inch OLED65C1PUB is reviewed here) cannot be more than 1/4 inch thick and there is little to no bezel. Due to its thin screen, I waited for an extra pair of hands to help me move it. It turns out that it is not so delicate, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
The C1 series has a caboose that is less than 2 inches thick at the bottom to accommodate all working electronics and speakers. The main body sits on a two-part counterweighted bracket that bolts to the bottom of the unit. This is a relatively heavy TV, weighing in at around 71 pounds, which drops to around 52 pounds without the stand if you want to use the 300mm x 200mm VESA mount point.
The C1 series is a 10-bit, 120 Hz, 2160p (3840 x 2160, 4K UHD) television that uses auto-emitting OLED sub-pixels. It is RGBW, which means that the red, green, blue, and white sub-pixels are grouped into pixels. The white sub-pixel is used to add brightness when needed.
A quick shout out to LG for the specs on the website. “Color Fidelity 100%: Yes”. Not classical information. Your guess as to which color standard is being referenced in that sentence is as good as mine.
You will find three USB 2.0 ports (two rear, one facing to the side), four 120Hz HDMI ports with eARC on port 2, one ethernet port, coaxial for a TV antenna or cable connection, one 3.5 RS-232C port mm for the control system, S / PDIF optical digital audio output and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. There is also an 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter and a Bluetooth 5.0 radio on board.
Almost all the latest technologies are supported: HDR (Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG but not HDR 10+); Filmmaker mode; and Dolby Vision IQ, which uses the TV’s ambient light sensor to adjust its color output. For gaming, there’s FreeSync Premium, auto low latency, HGiG (HDR Gaming Interest Group) tone mapping, variable refresh rate, G-Sync support, and Stadia Cloud gaming (with a firmware update).
Apple’s AirPlay 2 multi-room audio technology is available, along with voice control from Alexa and Google Assistant. Dolby Atmos surround audio is supported, as is the WiSA multi-channel wireless audio standard.
WebOS and remote
LG is one of the few TV manufacturers to use WebOS, even after the company announced plans to license the operating system to other brands, and I really wonder why. I find that WebOS is considerably more efficient than Google TV or Samsung’s Smart TV user interface, so I assume it is inexpensive; that is, how much does it cost a business or how much they can earn if they use Google build.
The Magic Remote is also a hoot. If you haven’t tried one, when you touch the remote, it creates a free floating cursor that you can move by moving the remote. Combined with the rocker button, I can get where I want to go faster than with any other TV operating system.
The usual potpourri of apps, curated content, and an easily navigable channel guide are also available.
Image and sound
I’ve already been excited about the exuberance of OLED – it’s just a different ball game than LCD, even allowing for advancements like mini-LED backlighting and dual LCD displays. It’s not as sharp as LCD TVs, but it’s sharp enough, and the contrast offered by self-emitting pixels that turn off completely to produce true black is astonishing. Viewing real-world material is simply a richer experience.
That said, I wasn’t overly impressed by the C1 series’ motion handling, or its fine pattern processing and detailed panoramas. It’s good, it’s just not great, as I recall from my experience with LG’s older E1 series. There was the occasional moiré, detailed pans occasionally popped, and even increasing the vibration reduction to the maximum didn’t give me the result I was looking for.
It slightly failed during a Spears & Munsil motion test that has multiple bands moving across the screen at different speeds. That was something the previous E1 series accomplished. The number of times you’ll see such artifacts off a reference disk is extremely low, and there’s always that beautiful black to compensate; Still, LG touts its latest imaging processor, so I was expecting better.
Note that the C1 series can also put out much more brightness than the default; however, that feature is not particularly useful. Do this and you’ll basically increase the white sub-pixels, so you end up with something that looks like an older backlit LCD TV – an image with a washed-out color palette.
The only other OLED we’ve seen recently is Sony’s A90J series, which is superior to LG’s C1 series in both image processing and audio performance. On the other hand, the 65-inch A90J costs almost a thousand dollars more than this model. I hope to have a competitively priced Sony A80J series at home soon so that I can compare.
That said, the LG C1 series sounds great, for a TV. The soundtracks came through clearly, with some real bass emanating from the speakers firing downward. I would have no problem listening to music on this TV either, although it would probably send a signal to my stereo receiver if I did it on a regular basis. And that leads me to …
I don’t spend a lot of time talking about playing USB or DLNA storage media anymore, as few people use these methods as often as I do. Regardless, I praise WebOS and LG for their local media playback. The player is rock solid; shows thumbnails of where you are when scrolling through videos; it is easy to control the playback; and the platform comprises an unusually large variety of video formats.
Even better, in my book: it plays the top three lossless compression audio formats: Windows, Apple, and FLAC. That’s a blessing if you want to use your TV as an audio playback station for your music collection, as I do quite often.
Best performance in its price class
In my experience, an LG OLED of any level will provide one of the best viewing experiences you can buy. The only comparable TVs are other OLEDs, which generally use the same panels.
My review is extremely sensitive, but that’s the job. LG’s OLED65C1PUB is not the better OLED we’ve tested, but it costs half the price of top-tier models and delivers 95 percent of the experience. I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with the purchase. I would certainly prefer a C1 series TV to any similarly priced LCD model.