LG’s OLED TVs have long wowed us, and the new C1 delivers some of the greatest performance we’ve seen. It offers outstanding gaming skills, fantastic contrast, impressively wide and accurate colors, robust audio, and excellent contrast. The 65-inch OLED55C1PUB model we tested costs $2,499.99, which isn’t cheap but not outrageous for a high-end OLED TV. At $1,999.99, Vizio’s OLED65-H1 is substantially less expensive, but it’s also significantly darker. The LG C1 is without a doubt one of the greatest TVs available, gaining our Editors’ Choice award for OLED models as well as a TechX award for its near-perfect color performance.
- Color and contrast are fantastic
- There are numerous connecting options available, including Apple AirPlay
- There are numerous game features available
- Input latency is minimal
- During testing, the interface was occasionally buggy
LG OLED55C1PUB SPECS
|Screen Size||55 inches|
|Resolution||3,840 by 2,160|
|Video Inputs||HDMI, RF, USB|
|HDR||Dolby Vision, HDR-10|
|Screen Brightness||565.69 nits|
|Black Level||0 cd/m^2|
|Refresh Rate||120 Hz|
|Input Lag (Game Mode)||4.7 ms|
|AMD FreeSync||FreeSync Premium|
|Nvidia G-Sync||G-Sync Compatible|
On and off, it’s stunning
The C1 is both beautiful and subtle in design, as is typical with OLED TVs. The TV itself has no bezel, just a thin gray metal rim around the screen’s borders. An inch-thick plastic casing swells out on the lower half of the rear of the TV to accommodate all of the electronics, despite the fact that the metal-backed OLED display is less than a quarter of an inch thick. The panel is supported by a large, hefty stand with a trapezoidal metal foot on the front and a smaller rectangular foot on the back; it can also be wall-mounted.
All connections are on the left side of the C1, with the exception of the permanently attached power wire on the back right. Three HDMI ports and a USB port are located on the left side, while a fourth HDMI port, two more USB ports, optical and coaxial audio outputs, an RS-232C coaxial connector, an Ethernet port, and an antenna/cable connector are located on the right side. A cable management channel is located on the back foot of the stand.
The accompanying Magic Remote is a long, thin, slightly curved black wand with motion sensors that works like an air mouse to control an on-screen cursor. Just below the center of the remote is a big, circular navigation pad with a clickable scroll wheel. Above the navigation pad are a number pad and volume and channel rockers, while below it are four color buttons, specific service buttons for Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Netflix, and LG Channels, as well as separate Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant buttons. To use voice controls, a pinhole microphone is located at the top of the remote.
WebOS and LG C1 Features
For connected features, LG continues to employ its own webOS TV interface, and while it doesn’t have the most apps, it does support most major streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Twitch, and YouTube. You may also use Apple AirPlay to stream material from your iOS or Mac, or the LG ThinQ app to stream content from a compatible Android device (Google Cast isn’t supported).
The TV has a full web browser that is simple to use thanks to the air mouse feature on the remote. For operating the TV and compatible LG ThinQ devices on your network, you can utilize a choice of voice control systems, including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and LG’s own ThinQ voice platform. WebOS includes a comprehensive Home Dashboard that displays all active TV sources as well as any connected smart home gadgets. You’ll need to download a few common apps to the TV, which will require you to create a free LG account if you don’t already have one.
I found the webOS menu system to be slightly choppy while testing the TV, both scrolling across the home screen and responding to commands. It would appear to randomly return to the previous active input or app, whether from the home screen or the settings menu. I contacted with LG about the issue, and it appears to be a widespread issue with the operating system’s memory manager, according to the firm. Most of these kinks seemed to sort themselves out after a while of watching TV.
Outstanding Visual Effects
The LG C1 is a 4K OLED TV with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 120Hz refresh rate. It supports HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log Gamma high dynamic range (HDR) video (HLG).
We used a Klein K-10A colorimeter, a Murideo SIX-G signal generator, and Portrait Displays’ Calman software to calibrate TVs. OLED screens can produce perfect blacks, but the technology’s drawback is that they don’t get extremely bright across the entire display, and only get brighter when a smaller portion of the panel is lit up (much more so than LED array backlight systems with variable dimming zones).
The C1 in Cinema mode achieves a peak brightness of only 132.689cd/m2 when using an SDR signal of a full-screen white field, and lowering that field to 18% of the screen only raises the brightness to 139.72cd/m2. Full-screen peak brightness with an HDR signal is just 145.216cd/m2, but switching to an 18 percent field raises that number to 565.692cd/m2, and a 10% field raises it to 764.039cd/m2. Of course, because black levels are always 0cd/m2, the TV displays a “infinite” contrast ratio regardless of the situation.
The brightness is equivalent to the Sony Master Series A90J’s, albeit significantly lower. For context, the A90J is the brightest OLED TV we’ve ever tested. Because of the very varying peak brightness levels, a large, completely lighted scene on an OLED screen will not be as brilliant as it would be on a high-end LED-backlit LCD TV, but well-lit sections of an otherwise dark scene will truly stand out.
The LG C1 has the absolute greatest color performance we’ve seen out of the box—and we’ve seen most manufacturers make significant progress over the last few years.
Color measurements were taken with an SDR signal compared to Rec.709 broadcast standards, and with an HDR signal compared to DCI-P3 digital cinema standards, in both cases with the TV set to Cinema image mode. The C1 covers both Rec.709 and DCI-P3 color schemes with spot-on whites and primary colors without requiring any adjustments. With an HDR source, the only problem we found in color performance was very small drifting for cyan and magenta, and even that was negligible.
Because the color performance is so good, we double-checked the results with a second colorimeter (Klein K-80) to be sure they were accurate. Until we see a TV that can cover the entire wider-than-DCI-P3 BT.2020 color spectrum (and no consumer TV has even come close), LG’s current OLED panels appear to be the best you can purchase. The C1 receives a TechX award for demonstrating the real potential of OLED technology with its astonishing accuracy.
Planet Earth II by the BBC looks excellent on the C1. From the greens of plants and bird feathers to the blues of water and skies, the colors are vibrant and lifelike. Even if the panel isn’t as brilliant as other high-end LED TVs, fine features like fur and bark are easily apparent in both bright sun and shade, and the picture is continuously bright enough to watch comfortably and observe all of those nuances.
Even in the cloudy lighting of the opening scene, Deadpool looks fantastic on the C1, with the red of his suit being correctly saturated and balanced. Against the leaping flames, which reveal plenty of vibrant yellows and oranges, shadow features in the flaming lab struggle can be seen well. The fire on the screen isn’t blindingly bright, but it stands out nicely, and the image highlights the TV’s high contrast.
The Great Gatsby’s party scenes demonstrate the C1‘s ability to create contrast. Against the harsh white lights and balloons, the cuts and curves of black suits and the textures of brown hair can be plainly seen without looking blown out. The skin tones are warm and realistic, and any color splashes in the frame stand out wonderfully.
Gaming and excellent audio
Speakers on TVs are sometimes overlooked, but the C1 features a 40-watt speaker system with two front-firing and two downward-firing drivers that are compatible with Dolby Atmos surround sound. It also has LG’s AI Sound Pro audio processing, which produces a significantly broader sound field than most TVs, as we discovered when turning the mode on and off during our testing.
Along with excellent audio, the C1 is jam-packed with gaming features. Aside from the 120Hz refresh rate, the TV also has variable refresh rate (VRR), auto low latency mode (ALLM), and AMD FreeSync Premium and Nvidia G-Sync Compatible technologies. The Game Optimizer visual mode and a separate Game Optimizer menu provide access to all of these functions.
If the TV’s input lag (the period between when it gets a signal and when the display updates) was excessive, a slew of gaming technologies wouldn’t be very useful, but that isn’t the case here. We observed an input lag of just 4.7 milliseconds in Game Optimizer mode using an HDFury Diva HDMI matrix, which is less than a fifth of the 20ms benchmark we use to deem a TV to be one of the best for gaming. Before you play anything, make sure you’re in Cinema mode; the input lag in Cinema mode is 89.1ms.
Comparison With Other 2021 LG OLED TVS
|OLED C1||OLED G1||OLED B1||OLED A1|
|Screen Size||83″, 77″, 65″, 55″, 48″||77″, 65″, 55″||77″, 65″, 55″||77″, 65″, 55″, 48″|
|Processor||a9 Gen4 AI Processor 4K||a9 Gen4 AI Processor 4K||a7 Gen4 AI Processor 4K||a7 Gen4 AI Processor 4K|
|Cinema HDR||Dolby Vision , HDR10, HLG||Dolby Vision , HDR10, HLG||Dolby Vision , HDR10, HLG||Dolby Vision , HDR10, HLG|
|Dolby Vision IQ / Atmos||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes|
|Gaming||G-SYNC, FreeSync, VRR, HGiG||G-SYNC, FreeSync, VRR, HGiG||G-SYNC, FreeSync, VRR, HGiG||ALLM|
|Hands-free Voice Control||–||Yes||–||–|
|Smart TV||LG ThinQ AI, webOS||LG ThinQ AI, webOS||LG ThinQ AI, webOS||LG ThinQ AI, webOS|
|Voice Assistant Built-in||Google Assistant / Alexa||Google Assistant / Alexa||Google Assistant / Alexa||Google Assistant / Alexa|
For Gamers and Everyone Else, the Best OLED TV
The LG C1 OLED TV is a work of art in terms of visual quality. It has some of the greatest color and contrast we’ve seen on any television, plus it has gaming features like ALLM and VRR. It’s more expensive than Vizio’s substantially less bright OLED variant, but it’s significantly less expensive than the Sony Master Series A90J while providing superior performance. As a result, we give the LG C1 our Editors’ Choice award, as well as a TechX award for color accuracy. If you want to save money on a great TV, go for an LED model rather than an OLED model, such as the Hisense U8G or the TCL 6-Series. They’re less expensive, but they’re thicker, have less accurate colors, and while they have outstanding black levels, they don’t have the pitch blacks of OLED panels.