LG ups the ante with its cutting-edge next-gen Ultra HD 4K OLED TV, which brings better processing and extra smarts to the party
LG was king of OLED last year, but is this year’s range a big upgrade?
It’s not easy to tell OLED panels apart these days. In a line-up, the chances of sending the wrong screen to the slammer are high. But at least LG attempts to separate its models.
The C8, a mid-range offering available in 55-, 65- and 77-inch screen sizes, has a distinctive gunmetal grey livery. Glass stretches edge-to-edge, with barely a rim to keep it in place. The panel sits on LG’s Alpine stand, basically a plasticky trim, counterbalanced at the rear.
Connections include four 4K-ready HDMIs (one with ARC), three USBs, a digital optical audio output and Ethernet, to complement Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Tuner options cover Freeview Play and satellite.
It ships with the latest iteration of LG’s Magic Remote pointer. This has dedicated buttons for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, as well as an integrated microphone, which supports the new ThinQ AI brain.
The integration of AI into LG’s webOS platform boils down to intuitive search and voice control.
There’s a full provision of catch-up TV services, including Stan, SBS OnDemand and, of course, YouTube. Having 4K services like Netflix, Stan and Youtube included follows its competitors, making the C8 feel modern and futureproof.
The C8 uses LG’s new Alpha 9 intelligent processor, which boasts the most advanced image processing we’ve seen on a consumer TV.
Image quality is exceptional, though there’s a forest of modes to negotiate. The set defaults to an Eco picture preset, but we found that Standard and Vivid are the best options for high contrast and UHD imagery. The HDR Vivid mode (for HDR10 content) borders on ravishing, using maximum module brightness and contrast, and pinging detail with a more agreeable colour temperature.
A faux HDR Effect is available to improve contrast on SDR sources, by applying Inverse Tone Mapping on a scene-by-scene basis. To be honest, it isn’t amazing, and isn’t as naturalistic as the object-based remapping that Sony uses on its excellent A8F set.
Unsurprisingly, the set’s various Cinema settings reduce contrast and subdue luminance. With SDR, the panel is limited to a BT.709 colour space, and sharpness enhancement. Of the Cinema, Cinema Home and Technicolor Expert modes, Cinema Home is the most watchable, thanks to increased mid-tone luminance.
To maximise 4K fine detail, ensure that Just Scan is set to On rather than Auto. In its default Auto setting, it can create artefacts which obscure fine high-frequency texture. With Just Scan On, this clears up and fine detail becomes easier to appreciate.
The C8’s HDR performance is dramatic. We measured a peak of 840 cd/m2 (aka nits) with a five per cent window – excellent for an OLED panel. The C8 has no problem handling spectral highlights, which, when coupled with deep rich blacks, translates to dynamic pictures.
Of course, HDR performance is also about the ability of a screen to retain shadow detail in near blacks, and it nails this, too. The vibrancy of colour and sheer tangible detail in 4K content can be astonishing. The titular super-pig in Okja is disturbingly authentic; the pig’s eyes seemingly sparkle with life.
The C8 also looks superb with HD material. TheFlash brims with dynamic lighting effects which positively glow here. The various costumes reveal copious texture.
Dynamic Tone Mapping is also available, offering a processing boost to HDR images. It analyses the signal peak and histogram information on a frame-by-frame basis, and essentially makes the picture a little brighter.
The set looks fabulous with games. In Standard mode image lag is high at 91.7ms, but switch in the Game mode and lag drops to just 21.1ms. Its HDR Game mode is also nicely dramatic.
The audio is better than average, but can sound flat. Helpfully, the C8 has a Dolby Atmos decoder, which works with streamed content as well as external sources, so you can hook your set-top box up to the TV and bitstream Dolby Atmos over HDMI ARC into a compatible sound system.
$6,399 lg.com/au The LG Alpha 9 processor is the most powerful we’ve seen in a consumer TV
The Alpine stand doubles as a sonic reflector for the C8’s downwardfacing stereo speakers