- Lush OLED image, with characteristically deep black
- Very reasonably priced—for OLED
- Audio high quality that doesn’t require a soundbar
- Numerous audio and video format help for taking part in media from storage units
- Picture processing is considerably weak in comparison with pricier OLEDs
Saying LG’s C1-series isn’t one of the best OLED you should purchase is like saying the Portofino isn’t one of the best Ferrari you should purchase. It’s an incredible TV, and it’s much more reasonably priced than OLEDs have been. However to select a nit, we have been anticipating higher picture processing.
The “Oh wow…” I get from slack-jawed colleagues evaluating an OLED TV similar to this LG C-series to a number of typical LCD TVs is at all times enjoyable to listen to. Why the adoration? It’s the black, child. Puppies on velvet. Most glorious starfields. It impresses folks.
Don’t get me fallacious, OLEDs aren’t excellent—no TV tech is. However total, the viewing expertise is pretty much as good because it will get.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart TVs, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
Design and features
The majority of the C1-series’ display panel—LG’s 65-inch model OLED65C1PUB is reviewed here—can’t be more than an 1/4-inch thick, and there’s little to no bezel. Because of its thin screen, I waited for an extra pair of hands to help me move it about. It’s not that delicate, as it turns out, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The C1-series has a less than 2-inch-thick caboose down low to accommodate all the working electronics and speakers. The main body sits on a counterweighted two-part stand that screws to the bottom of the unit. This is a relatively heavy TV—weighing around 71 pounds—which drops to around 52 pounds sans the pedestal if you want to make use of the 300mm x 200mm VESA mount point.
The C1-series is a 10-bit, 120Hz, 2160p (3840 x 2160, 4K UHD) TV using self-emitting OLED subpixels. It’s RGBW, meaning red, green, blue, and white subpixels are grouped into pixels. The white subpixel is used to add brightness when required.
One quick shoutout to LG for the specs on the website. “Color Fidelity 100%: Yes.” Classic non-info. Your guess about which color standard is being referred to in that sentence is as good as mine.
You’ll find three USB 2.0 ports (two back, one side-facing), four 120Hz HDMI ports with eARC on port 2, an ethernet port, coax for a TV antenna or cable connection, a 3.5mm RS-232C port for system control, digital optical S/PDIF audio output, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s also an 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter and a Bluetooth 5.0 radio onboard.
Nearly all the latest technologies are supported: HDR (Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG but no HDR 10+); Filmmaker Mode; and Dolby Vision IQ, which uses the TV’s ambient light sensor to adjust its color output. For gaming, there’s FreeSync Premium, auto low latency, HGiG (HDR Gaming Interest Group) tone mapping, variable refresh rate, G-Sync compatibility, and Stadia Cloud gaming (with a firmware update).
Apple’s AirPlay 2 multi-room audio tech is on hand, along with Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. Dolby Atmos immersive audio is supported, as is the WiSA multi-channel wireless audio standard.
WebOS and remote
LG is one of the few TV manufacturers using WebOS, even after the company announced plans to license the operating system to other brands, and I truly wonder why. I find WebOS to be considerably more efficient than Google TV or Samsung’s smart TV user interface, so I’m guessing it’s economics; i.e., how much it costs a company, or how much they can make if they use Google’s creation.
The Magic Remote is a hoot as well. If you haven’t tried one, when you tap the remote it creates a free floating cursor that you can move around by waving the remote. Combined with the rocker button, I can get where I want to go faster than with any other TV OS.
The usual potpourri of apps, curated content, and an easily navigable channel guide are also available.
Picture and sound
I’ve already gushed over the lushness of OLED—it’s simply a different ballgame from LCD, even allowing for such advances as mini-LED backlighting and dual-LCD. It’s not as sharp as LCD TVs, but it’s sharp enough, and the contrast offered by self-emitting pixels that shut off completely to produce a true black is amazing. Watching real-world material is simply a richer experience.
That said, I wasn’t overly impressed with the C1-series’ motion handling, or its processing of fine patterns and detailed pans. It’s good, it’s just not great as I remember from my experience with LG’s older E1-series. There was occasional moiré, detailed pans occasionally jumped, and even cranking the judder reduction to max didn’t give me quite the result I was looking for.
It glitched mildly during a Spears & Munsil motion test that has multiple bands moving across the screen at different speeds. That was something the older E1-series aced. The number of times you’ll see such artifacts outside of a benchmark disc is exceedingly low, and there’s always that gorgeous black to compensate; still, LG touts its latest image processor, so I was expecting better.
Note that the C1-series can also pump out a lot more brightness than they default to; however, that feature is not particularly useful. Do it and you’re basically pumping up the white subpixels, so you’ll end up something that looks like an older backlit LCD TV: A picture with a washed-out color palette.
The only other OLED we’ve seen recently is Sony’s A90J-series, which is superior to LG’s C1-series in both image processing and audio performance. On the other hand, the 65-inch A90J costs nearly a thousand dollars more than this model. I hope to get a price-competitive Sony A80J-series in house soon, so I can compare.
That said, the LG C1-series sounds very good—for a TV. Soundtracks came across clearly, with some actual bass emanating from the down-firing speakers. I’d have no problem listening to music on this TV either, although I’d likely run a feed to my stereo receiver if I were to do so on a regular basis. And that brings me to…
I don’t spend a lot of time talking about playing media from USB or DLNA storage anymore, as few people use these methods as often as I do. Regardless, I give high praise to WebOS and LG for its local media playback The player is rock solid; shows thumbnails of where you are when you scroll through videos; it’s easy to control playback; and the platform understands an unusually large array of video formats.
Even better, in my book: It plays all three of the major lossless compression audio formats: Windows, Apple, and FLAC. That’s a boon if you want to use your TV as an audio playback station for your music collection, as I do quite often.
Best performance in its price class
In my experience, an LG OLED of any tier will deliver one of the best viewing experiences you can buy. The only comparable TVs are other OLEDs, which generally use the same panels.
My review is extremely picky, but that’s the gig. Saying LG’s OLED65C1PUB isn’t the best OLED TV you can buy is like saying the Portofino isn’t the best Ferrari you can buy. It’s a great TV, and it’s far more affordable than OLEDs have been—it’s half the price of the top-tier models while delivering 95 percent of the experience. That’s more than enough to earn our editors’ choice award. I can’t possibly imagine anyone being disappointed after buying one.