LG C1-series Smart TV Review: OLED is lush for less green

Glimpse

expert assessment

Positives

  • Rich OLED image, with distinctive deep black
  • Extremely affordable – for OLED
  • Sound quality that doesn’t require a speaker
  • Support various audio and video format for media playback from storage devices

Negatives

  • Image processing is rather poor compared to more expensive OLEDs

our judgment

Saying LG’s C1 series isn’t the best OLED screen you can buy is like saying the Portofino isn’t the best Ferrari you can buy. It’s a great TV, and much more affordable than OLEDs. But to choose nit, we were expecting better image processing.

The “Oh wow…” I get from fellow novices who compare an OLED TV like the LG C series to many typical LCD TVs is always fun. Why adoration? It’s black, baby. Puppies on velvet. Most excellent star fields. It impresses the people.

Don’t get me wrong, OLEDs aren’t perfect – there is no TV technology either. But overall, the viewing experience is as good as it gets.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart TVs, where you’ll find reviews of competition offerings, as well as a buyer’s guide to features to consider when shopping for this type of product.

Design and Features

The majority of LG’s 65-inch OLED65C1PUB C1 series display panel can be no more than 1/4 inch thick, and there is little to no bezel. Because of its thin screen, I waited for an extra pair of hands to help me move it. It’s not that sensitive, as it turns out, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The C1 Series has a caboose of less than 2 inches in thickness to accommodate all electronic devices and working amplifiers. The main body rests on a two-part counterweight holder that is attached to the bottom of the unit. This is a relatively heavy TV—it weighs about 71 pounds—and drops to about 52 pounds without the base if you want to take advantage of a 300mm x 200mm VESA mounting point.

lg c1 series oled tv coil LG
The LG C1-series OLED features an incredibly thin panel, with a slight bulge at the bottom to house the TV’s electronics and ports.

The C1 series is a 10-bit, 120Hz, 2160p TV (3840 x 2160, 4K UHD) using self-transmitting OLED sub-pixels. It is RGBW, which means that the red, green, blue and white subpixels are grouped into pixels. The white sub-pixel is used to add brightness when needed.

One quick shout out to LG for the specs on the website. Color accuracy 100%: Yes. Classic non-information. Your guess about the color standard referred to in that sentence is as good as mine.

You’ll find three USB 2.0 ports (two on the back and one facing the side), four HDMI 120Hz with eARC on port 2, an Ethernet port, a hub for a TV antenna or cable connection, an RS-232C 3.5mm port for system control, an optical digital audio output S/S PDIF, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is also an 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter and Bluetooth 5.0 radio on board.

Almost all the latest technologies are supported: HDR (Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG but without HDR 10+); Output mode and Dolby Vision IQ, which uses the TV’s ambient light sensor to adjust color output. For gaming, there’s FreeSync Premium, auto low latency, HGiG tone mapping (HDR Gaming Interest Group), variable refresh rate, G-Sync compatibility, and Stadia Cloud gaming (with firmware update).

LG OLED65C1PUB back panelLG
The back of the LG 65C1PUB OLED TV 65 inch.

Apple’s AirPlay 2 multi-room audio technology is available, along with Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. Dolby Atmos audio is supported, as is the WiSA multi-channel wireless audio standard.

WebOS and remote control

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 WebOS to be more efficient than Google TV or Samsung’s Smart TV UI, so I think it’s economical; For example, how much does the company cost, or how much you can earn if you use Google Build.

LG Magic Remote Redesign LG
LG’s redesigned Magic Remote is definitely more comfortable to hold the previous version.

The magic remote control is also a shout-out. If you haven’t tried one, when you tap on the remote it creates a free floating pointer that you can move by waving the remote. In combination with the rocker button, I can get to where I want to go faster than any other TV operating system.

The usual set of apps, curated content and an easy-to-navigate channel guide are also available.

picture and sound

It’s already flush with the fecundity of OLED – it’s just a ball game different from LCD, even allowing such advances as mini-LED backlighting and a dual-LCD display. It’s not as sharp as LCD TVs, but it’s sharp enough, and the contrast provided by the self-emitting pixels that shut off completely to produce a stunning true black. Watching real-world material is simply a richer experience.

lg c1 straight LG
LG’s 65-inch OLED65C1PUB delivers a lush picture, but it didn’t deal with detailed pans or movement as well as some of the more expensive OLEDs.

However, I wasn’t too impressed with the C1 series’ motion handling, or its handling of fine patterns and detailed pans. It’s good, it’s not as great as I remember from my experience with LG’s older E1 series. There was the occasional moiré, the detail pans occasionally jumped out, and even moving the vibration reduction to maximum didn’t give me quite the result I was looking for.

A slight glitch occurred during a Spears & Munsil motion test which has multiple scopes moving across the screen at different speeds. This was something the older E1 series excelled at. The number of times you’ll see such artifacts off a standard disc is pretty low, and there’s always that cool black to make up for; However, LG is touting its latest image processor, so I was expecting better.

Note that the C1 series can also inject more brightness than it defaults to; However, this feature is not particularly useful. Do this while you’re essentially pumping out the white sub-pixels, so you’ll end up with something that looks like an old backlit LCD TV: an image with a dimmer color palette.

The only other OLED we’ve seen recently is Sony’s A90J series, which beats LG’s C1 series in both image processing and audio performance. The 65-inch A90J, on the other hand, costs nearly a thousand dollars more than this model. I hope to get the competitively priced Sony A80J series at home soon, so I can compare.

However, the LG C1 series looks very good – for a TV. The soundtrack came out clearly, with some actual bass emanating from the low-end speakers. I wouldn’t have any trouble listening to music on this TV either, although I would probably play a feed on my stereo receiver if I were to do so on a regular basis. This leads me to…

I no longer spend a lot of time talking about playing media from USB or DLNA storage, as few people use these methods as often as I do. Regardless, I highly commend WebOS and LG for local media playback. Shows thumbnails of where you are when scrolling through videos; Easy to control operation; The platform understands an unusually wide range of video formats.

Even better, in my book: It plays all three major audio compression formats: Windows, Apple, and FLAC. This is a boon if you want to use the TV as an audio playback station for your music collection, as I often do.

Best performance in its price category

In my experience, an LG OLED of any level will provide one of the best viewing experiences you can buy. The only similar TVs are other OLEDs, which generally use the same panels.

My review is very picky, but that’s the party. Saying that LG’s OLED65C1PUB is not better An OLED TV you can buy is like saying the Portofino isn’t the best Ferrari you can buy. It’s a great TV, and much more affordable than OLEDs — it’s half the price of the top-tier models while offering 95 percent of the experience. That’s more than enough to earn an Editors’ Choice award. I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed after buying one.

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