LG OLED65C8 4K OLED TV

‘En­try-level’ for OLEDs still means a fine TV in­deed. LG’s C8 OLED scores not only on the gor­geous picture, but with good smarts and net­work­ing too.

Sound+Image - - CONTENTS - Stephen Daw­son

‘En­try-level’ for OLEDs still means a fine TV in­deed, and LG’s up­date of its C se­ries comes with good smarts (‘AI’ of course) and net­work­ing.

Eighth-gen­er­a­tion, eh? How quickly the years pass. LG’s OLED TV of­fer­ings are now in their eighth year. The first we ever re­viewed was third-gen­er­a­tion — it was a full-HD model with a curved screen. LG has long since aban­doned cur­va­ture (it re­ally was just a stylis­tic fad, un­less you live in a light-house), and all its OLED TVs are now Ul­tra-HD in res­o­lu­tion.

As in re­cent years, there are three se­ries of OLED TVs. The C8 se­ries (of which we are here re­view­ing the 65-inch model) has the rather im­mod­estly-priced ‘en­try-level’ mod­els. But I’m told that the pan­els are all the same across the three se­ries. What you get with the more ex­pen­sive ranges are dif­fer­ent styling and sound so­lu­tions.

But not dif­fer­ent panel sizes. You can get the C8 se­ries in all three sizes on of­fer: 55 inches, 65 inches and 77 inches. Re­spec­tive prices are $4099, $6399 and then the big jump to $14,999.

Step­ping up to E8 se­ries will cost you $4999 for 55 inches, and $7699 for 65 inches. The W8 se­ries — known as the LG Sig­na­ture Wall­pa­per mod­els — is $9999 for 65 inches and $19,999 for 77 inches.

Given one of our ref­er­ences for the last 12 months has been an OLED65C7 TV, this unit makes for an in­ter­est­ing com­par­i­son. The C7 was slid back on the test bench for a cou­ple of weeks, putting the new OLED65C8 in front of it. (To be clear, the full model num­ber is OLED65C8PTA. The last three let­ters dif­fer­en­ti­ate mod­els for dif­fer­ent re­gions.) Equip­ment OLED TVs are slim. Al­most un­be­liev­ably, the C8 is even thin­ner than the C7. Not that you can tell by eye, be­cause both look so very thin. The up­per sec­tion of the panel — nearly 60 per­cent of its height — con­sists of just the panel. The C7 was 4.3mm thick. The C8 is 3.6mm thick (see right; I’ve just used vernier calipers to check).

The borders around the picture — there’s no bezel as such — are only 10mm wide. The swelling of the bot­tom 40% of the panel height takes the TV to still less than 50mm thick. It can be wall-mounted.

The ta­ble-top stand lifts the TV by only 50mm from the bench. It runs about three quar­ters of the width of the TV, and fea­tures a con­cave curved up­per sur­face that is more than dec­o­ra­tive. It also serves

to re­di­rect the sound from the down­wards-fir­ing tweet­ers (there are also two woofers) out into the room, pro­vid­ing im­proved sound com­pared to many thin panel TVs.

Four HDMI in­puts are pro­vided, three on the side and one on the back. There are three USB con­nec­tions (in­clud­ing one USB 3.0 for record­ing and time shift­ing live TV), legacy in­puts for com­po­nent and com­pos­ite video, and both ana­logue and op­ti­cal au­dio out­puts. Read­ers of this pub­li­ca­tion are likely to make use of the HDMI ARC fa­cil­ity, but the oth­ers are use­ful for con­nect­ing to older au­dio equip­ment.

The TV has a sin­gle tuner and of­fers full Free­viewPlus sup­port. If there’s a picture-in­pic­ture op­tion, I couldn’t find it. But there is a zoom fea­ture and the cute abil­ity to cap­ture an im­age from the screen.

One in­ter­est­ing point about this TV is the change in power con­sump­tion. When I re­viewed the LG 65EF950T OLED UHD TV in April 2016 (LG used dif­fer­ent nam­ing con­ven­tions then), it scored 5.5 stars on the en­ergy rat­ing sys­tem, and con­sumed 386kWh per year. This one? Just 4 stars, and 554kWh per year, a 43% in­crease. Pre­sum­ably the faster pro­ces­sor uses a lit­tle more, but I’m guess­ing that’s mostly due to the brighter panel. It does use 20kWh fewer per year than the 65C7.

Per­for­mance

A wizard guides you through set-up. Ap­par­ently the TV still has an ana­logue tuner, but you can se­lect a dig­i­tal-only TV scan. The wizard also takes you through net­work set-up. The TV fea­tures 802.11ac con­nec­tiv­ity, plus Eth­er­net.

The qual­ity of the picture was glo­ri­ous, es­pe­cially with colour and black lev­els. Want to watch one of those dark shows? Then turn out the lights and you’ll see lim­it­less de­tail in all the dark ar­eas of the picture, with­out the slight­est touch of glow to dis­tract you.

I usu­ally rec­om­mend wind­ing the ‘Sharp­ness’ con­trol down to zero. The de­fault sharp­ness on this TV was 25, and I con­fess it was very tempt­ing to leave it at that. Yes, it was sharp­ened, but clearly all the picture pro­cess­ing hap­pens in UHD-res­o­lu­tion space.

So yes, there was a very slight amount of edge en­hance­ment ring­ing or ghost­ing, but it was only a UHD pixel in thick­ness, not a FHD pixel in thick­ness. A cir­cle on the test pat­tern nor­mally shows jag­gies when sub­jected to sharp­en­ing. The anti-alias­ing fil­ter on this TV clearly works down to UHD level, re­sult­ing in a no­tice­ably sharper but still smooth cir­cle. I could hap­pily leave the sharp­en­ing on the de­fault.

I used the test ma­te­rial on a Sony UHD Blu-ray disc (key in ‘7669’ from the main menu) to see how the TV han­dles high bright­ness lev­els with HDR con­tent. That is, what does it map onto its dis­play? The max­i­mum bright­ness of the panel is not for­mally spec­i­fied, but I un­der­stand it to be 1000 nits. The test shows up to 10,000 nits, the (so far the­o­ret­i­cal) max­i­mum of HDR. The bright­ness bars on the test still showed a dif­fer­ence be­tween 3000 and 4000 nits. Lower val­ues were nicely pro­por­tioned across the avail­able bright­ness range.

Does this means a darker picture for con­tent that tops out at, say, 1000 nits? That cer­tainly didn’t seem to be the case in use. I fig­ure that the TV uses some form of dy­namic pro­cess­ing, chang­ing the map­ping of sig­nal bright­ness to screen bright­ness ac­cord­ing to what’s in the sig­nal. If you are get­ting a sig­nal which makes full use of the HDR (or Dolby Vi­sion) range, then I think LG’s bal­anc­ing be­tween text-book ac­cu­racy and pro­vid­ing more dis­crim­i­na­tion at the high bright­ness level is just about right.

Kind of con­firm­ing this, a grey-scale test pat­tern on reg­u­lar Blu-ray — which can­not of­fer HDR — scales the lev­els so that whiter-than-white is brighter than full white, and blacker-than-black is (very slightly) darker than full black. A more naive (and tra­di­tional) treat­ment of this sig­nal would have both whites dis­play­ing at the same level and like­wise for both blacks.

4K OLED TV

Aus­tralian (576i/50) DVDs were auto-dein­ter­laced com­pe­tently, with the film/video sta­tus de­tec­tion work­ing al­most per­fectly on my var­i­ous test clips. It was pretty nearly as good as it gets. It also did quite a bit of picture pro­cess­ing along the way as it scaled the im­age up to Ul­tra-HD (I fed it in at 576i/50). There was a lot of sharp­en­ing, but again ar­ti­facts were lim­ited and barely vis­i­ble. This made DVDs and SD Dig­i­tal TV rather more pleas­ant to look at than is typ­i­cally the case on 65-inch tele­vi­sions.

My clips from the 1080i/50 Blu-ray ver­sion of Miss Pot­ter were quite in­ter­est­ing. Again, han­dling was al­most per­fect. The hard­est sec­tion for auto-dein­ter­lac­ers to han­dle is at the start of Chap­ter 10, where the cam­era pans down onto Miss Pot­ter’s coun­try home. The pan slows as the house nears the mid­dle of the frame. Nor­mally there’s around a sec­ond of break-up around the win­dows as the dein­ter­lacer gets con­fused into treat­ing the film-source con­tent as video. The LG also did that, for per­haps half a sec­ond right at the end. But for an­other sec­ond be­fore that, there was a no­tice­ably soft­en­ing of the im­age. It was as though the sharp­en­ing cir­cuitry was switched off for that brief mo­ment.

All that’s by way of ob­ser­va­tion rather than sub­stan­tive crit­i­cism. I doubt any­one would no­tice other than a reviewer who watches the same clip a cou­ple of dozen times ev­ery year, ex­am­in­ing it closely for odd be­hav­iour.

Fi­nally, mo­tion smooth­ing. LG’s im­ple­men­ta­tion has been get­ting bet­ter over the years, and it has in re­cent years largely man­aged to avoid the glassy, stu­dio look of some. Nonethe­less, it still pro­duces heat-haze ar­ti­facts in both the ‘Smooth’ and ‘Clear’ set­tings. The lat­ter tends to be the de­fault. But there’s also a ‘User’ set­ting. I spent a quite bit of time with my favourite sec­tion of the Blu-ray of The Fugi­tive (the start of Chap­ter 21) in a loop to play with this, and then I re­peated the ex­er­cise near the start of the Ul­tra-HD Blu-ray of Dunkirk. There’s a hor­i­zon­tal pan as the main pro­tag­o­nist en­ters the beach for the first time.

In both cases, it was clear that the ‘Smooth’ and ‘Clear’ set­tings both had the ‘De-jud­der’ set­ting up at the max­i­mum of 10/10. The ac­tions of the ‘De-Blur’ circuit were un­clear on th­ese set­tings. (If there’s mo­tion blur on film, there’s no jud­der. If there’s jud­der, it’s

“LG is push­ing ‘ThinQ’ tech­nol­ogy, which it po­si­tions as a kind of AI. The main thing it of­fers is a bit of con­text sen­si­tiv­ity when you’re do­ing things like voice search.”

be­cause the shut­ter speed was too fast, elim­i­nat­ing mo­tion-smooth­ing blur.)

It seemed to me that 0/10 for ‘De-jud­der’ was the same as hav­ing it off. Push­ing it up to 3/10 seemed to gen­er­ate one in­ter­me­di­ate frame for each two real frames, leav­ing some jud­der vis­i­ble on sharp ob­jects, but re­duc­ing its im­pact. There was vir­tu­ally no heat-haze dis­tor­tion. Go­ing to 5/10 seemed to add an­other in­ter­me­di­ate frame, smooth­ing things fur­ther and adding a lit­tle vis­i­ble dis­tor­tion from time to time. There may have been one more level around 7 or 8/10. Go­ing to 10/10 move­ment was su­perbly smooth, but dis­tor­tion was a lit­tle too ob­vi­ous for my taste, and seemed to have a wider ef­fect. For ex­am­ple, soon after the start of Chap­ter 21 in The Fugi­tive, a train passes over a bridge be­hind Har­ri­son Ford. Its pas­sage some­how makes the riv­ets on the bridge be­come un­steady in the picture when mo­tion smooth­ing is up high.

I no­tice that one com­pet­ing brand has been of­fer­ing a ten-year war­ranty against burn in on its premium mod­els. It sells no OLED TVs. In prac­tice, I’ve had no ap­pear­ance of burn in on ei­ther this TV or its pre­de­ces­sor. I haven’t tried to de­feat the screen saver, and take moderate care not to leave Blu-ray menus dis­play­ing stat­i­cally on the screen for hours. So I wouldn’t con­sider it a prob­lem. That said, that other brand does have fea­tures in­clud­ing the static dis­play of artworks. They can be left on all the time with­out fear. It would be un­wise to do that with an OLED TV. It’d also be a good idea to leave the screen-saver switched on in your disc spin­ner.

Smarts

There are only three things with this TV that bring it short of a very nearly per­fect net­work me­dia player. The first two are stan­dards it does not sup­port — no Ap­ple Air­Play, no Google Chrome­cast. You can use Mira­cast and DLNA to send me­dia to the TV. The third de­fi­ciency is that the Eth­er­net con­nec­tion still op­er­ates on the old 100Mbps stan­dard, not the now com­mon Gi­ga­bit stan­dard. That wasn’t so im­por­tant a cou­ple of years ago, but home-made 4K video at bi­trates of 100Mbps or even higher are now com­mon. Us­ing my usual 100Mbps test clip, the LG C8 was stut­ter­ing as it fre­quently paused to buf­fer. The Wi-Fi con­nec­tion was bet­ter, although it also had some small glitches. Any­thing of 50Mbps or less was han­dled per­fectly both by Eth­er­net and Wi-Fi.

Ev­ery­thing else it played. All my mu­sic (short of DSD) and all my pho­tos (in­clud­ing PNG for­mat) and all my net­work videos. That last in­cluded SD and FHD MPEG2 ma­te­rial recorded from TV, MPEG4 AVC ma­te­rial, H.265 ma­te­rial. Some of it was en­coded with stan­dard dy­namic range and stan­dard colour gamut. Some was HDR. Some was Dolby Vi­sion. Some was Dolby At­mos. Some used the BT.2020 colour stan­dard.

What more could you want? How about 360 video? Yes, that worked as well with ap­pro­pri­ately-coded ma­te­rial drag­gable to view from any di­rec­tion.

And then there are stream­ing ser­vices. This is a ‘Net­flix Rec­om­mended’ TV, and has a Net­flix key on the re­mote, along with an Ama­zon Prime key. Also sup­ported: Stan, Big­pond Movies, 9Now, YouTube, Google Play, SBS on De­mand, ABC iView, Spo­tify, and... Eros Now. (Ap­pear­ances aside, that last one is a stream­ing ser­vice for Bol­ly­wood movies.) There’s a ‘TV Cast’ app, too. In­stall that and the match­ing app on an iOS or An­droid de­vice, and you can cast video from your por­ta­ble de­vice.

At some point over the past few months I grad­u­ally be­came aware that Net­flix on my 65C7 al­ways de­liv­ered the two-chan­nel au­dio track rather than 5.1 chan­nels to the con­nected home theatre re­ceiver. The Net­flix app on the 65C8 doesn’t have that prob­lem.

The TV sup­ports a USB com­puter key­board /mouse, so the web browser is quite func­tional.

One fi­nal bit on the smart TV thing, LG is push­ing its ThinQ tech­nol­ogy, which it po­si­tions as a kind of AI. The main thing it of­fers is a bit of con­text sen­si­tiv­ity when you’re do­ing things like voice search. As usual, much of the voice con­trol func­tion is kind of point­less. You can press a but­ton on the re­mote and say Mute, or you can press the Mute key. But once you learn some of the func­tions there are use­ful short­cuts. ‘Vol­ume 80’ saves hold­ing down the vol­ume key. ‘Net­work set­tings’ jumps you right there, rather faster than nav­i­gat­ing.

Con­clu­sion

The LG OLED65C8 TV is a fine, fine TV, a lit­tle bet­ter than last year’s of­fer­ings, with a picture that is matched only by other OLED TVs.

Other in­puts Three USB in­puts (one side, two rear), an­tenna in, and one AV mini­jack com­pos­ite/com­po­nent.

HDMI in­puts All four HDMI in­puts (three side, one rear) fully sup­port Ul­tra High Def­i­ni­tion. For ARC, use HDMI in­put 2.

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