Bright, punchy and sharp; natural images; loads of apps
LG has been killing it on the TV front over the past couple of years. Not only has it been making and selling its own excellent OLED tellies, it has also sold OLED panels to all its main rivals, with the exception of Samsung.
But standing still is a sure fire way to get caught by your rivals, and in LG’S case a resurgent Samsung must be of particular concern. Interestingly, LG’S 2018 strategy revolves not around improvements to its OLED panel, but in the brain that drives it.
More brain power
A four-part noise-reduction system, frequency-based image-sharpening, object-based contrast enhancement and adaptive colour mapping are all on the menu in the updated tech. The TV can even apply dynamic metadata to HDR formats that natively carry only static metadata, resulting in features that LG refers to as HDR10 Pro and HLG Pro.
There’s also support for high frame rate (HFR) content, although a lack of HFR content makes that more of a potential future bonus, rather than something to get excited about now. Still, this is the most advanced picture processing LG is currently capable of.
Those smart innards are matched by a smart appearance. There isn’t much room for aesthetic invention in current TV design – they’re essentially big slabs of screen – but LG should be applauded for coming up with something different.
Motion processing not the best; confusing menus
It’s not just the supreme slimness of the screen, but also the elegance of the pedestal stand. It’s a unique, interesting design, particularly in terms of the wide, ridged mouth beneath the screen that, as well as looking rather cool, is designed to funnel sound from the downward-firing speakers out towards the listener.
Those speakers and the connections (four HDMIS, three USBS, aerial, satellite, optical and headphone) require a plastic enclosure that’s bolted on to the back of the panel. You’re not getting uniform super-slimness, then, but this is an undeniably more stylish TV than the B7 and C7 it replaces.
Not a huge amount has changed for LG’S 2018 implementation of the webos platform. The customisable tab system is pleasant, and the app selection is essentially unchanged, including Netflix and Amazon in 4K HDR, all of the catch-up services and on-demand movies from Google Play TV & Movies and Rakuten.
A different kind of picture
The Gallery feature (previously known as ‘OLED Gallery’), which turns your TV into an art installation, returns with significantly more pictures (46 compared with last year’s 13). While the OLED panel is excellent at displaying photos, it’s not something that we anticipate many will use often.
LG is making lots of noise about its Thinq AI, which combines with enhanced voice recognition to make controlling the TV with your voice smarter and more natural. It can certainly prove a useful shortcut to the odd picture setting (“turn on Game Mode”, for example), but we haven’t discovered many uses beyond that.
The webos is definitely faster and more fluid than it’s ever been, though, making switching between settings, apps and sources a very zippy affair.
The C8 is an exciting performer, but you have to turn off many of its superadvanced features to get it performing at its best. We recommend the Cinema Home preset for HDR content and Standard for everything else. And each of these needs only a little tweaking – a relief given the mind-bogglingly confusing picture menus.
This is a markedly sharper, more detailed and punchier picture than that offered by last year’s OLEDS, even without Vivid mode active.
Play the opening of Planet Earth II on 4K Blu-ray and the introductory selection of clips provides evidence of a supremely capable, consistent and natural performer. The snow of the mountains is purer and brighter than last year, and there’s more bright detail, too, as evidenced by the distinct, fluffy, three-dimensional clouds.
A sun-baked ridge of dunes is a gloriously rich, burnished orange, the
“This is a markedly sharper, more detailed, punchier picture than that offered by last year’s OLEDS, even without Vivid mode active”
seemingly endless canopy of a rainforest is lusciously, vividly green and the ocean surrounding a tropical island combines beautiful, enticing aquamarine around the shore with steadily, subtly deepening shades of blue out to the ocean.
As with last year’s models, the C8 also allows you to experience dynamic metadata thanks to its Dolby Vision support, and in most cases this results in even greater contrast and colours.
Last year LG blew us away with the quality of its upscaling, and it’s seemingly business as usual for 2018. The stability and control of the images it produces from standard-def signals is significantly greater than any rival is currently able to muster. We’re still watching plenty of Full HD, too, and, while the LG’S upscaling is less miraculous here, picture quality remains
good, if a touch more subdued than on the likes of the Samsung Q9FN and Sony XF9005.
Meanwhile, input lag for games remains unchanged from last year at 21.4ms. That’s more than fast enough for even super-serious gamers.
It’s a shame that LG hasn’t upped its audio game, particularly as the Dolby Atmos branding might reasonably entitle you to assume that the sound is a bit special. It doesn’t sound bad, but the price of the C8 puts it in the firing line of both the Sony A1 and Samsung Q9FN, and both are more sonically capable. Of course, our advice would be to partner any new TV with a separate sound solution, which makes the TV’S own sound irrelevant.
The OLED55C8PLA is not a giant leap for LG’S OLEDS. Instead it has improved
on last year’s models in a number of individually small but collectively significant ways. The upshot is an image that’s brighter, punchier and more detailed, while maintaining the black depth and naturalism we love. It’s an exceptional performer.
LG continues to keep ahead of the game via small but key improvements