LG C8

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

Australian T3 - - CONTENTS -

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.

Pic­ture this

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

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