LG OLED55C8PLA

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Bright, punchy and sharp; nat­u­ral images; loads of apps

FOR

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

AGAINST

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.

Stan­dard vari­a­tion

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

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