LG C2 OLED TV review: you can’t go wrong

It’s far from the brightest TV out there, but as the sweet spot in LG’s lineup, the C2 combines stunning picture quality with an exhaustive list of features and terrific gaming prowess.

LG’s C2 OLED is a truly impressive 4K TV that provides impeccable picture quality and best-in-class gaming performance. Even though the higher-tier and more expensive G2 is LG’s flagship and offers a brighter display, the C2 is easier on your wallet and still delivers a viewing experience that can wow anyone sitting in your living room.

I reviewed the 65-inch C2, which costs $2,499 but is routinely on sale for much less. Thanks to those frequent discounts, the C-series has established itself as the sweet spot of LG’s lineup, and this feature-packed TV showcases everything the company has learned after years of manufacturing OLED sets. You can count on an engrossing image with unmatched blacks, striking contrast, and a surprising level of depth. There’s been a lot of buzz this year about the arrival of QD-OLED TVs, and while they do offer some noticeable picture benefits, the first sets from Samsung and Sony are pricier than the C2 — and neither can match LG’s comprehensive gaming chops.

HOW WE RATE AND REVIEW PRODUCTS

But one of the main improvements that LG has made to the C2 will be obvious long before you power it on. The most notable thing about this TV’s design is just how remarkably light it is. By switching to composite fiber materials, LG has reduced the heft in a big way. The 65-inch model I’ve been testing weighs 40.8 pounds with the stand or 36.6 pounds without. Stack that up against last year’s version, which came in at 71.9 pounds with the stand attached or 52.9 pounds without, and the difference is substantial. You’ll still want a helping hand when unboxing and setting up one of the larger-sized C2s, but that’s really only because of the screen’s width; the weight is entirely manageable now. The pedestal stand is also now lighter, narrower, and appreciably taller; my Sonos soundbar partially obstructed the screen with my old CX, but that’s not a problem thanks to this stand’s extra clearance.

A TV’s weight is the sort of thing you might never think about again after putting it on a media stand or mounting it, but the reduced heft should make for less strain on your wall in the latter scenario. Above all else, it’s just impressive engineering and a welcome change after years of weighty OLEDs that also happened to be very fragile. That combination often proved stressful, but the C2 felt much easier to unbox and maneuver by comparison. It comes in sizes ranging from 42 inches ($1,399) all the way up to a gargantuan 83-inch model ($5,499). Again, all of them are regularly on sale for significantly less. No matter how big or small you go, the TVs share the same features, and all have four HDMI ports.

A photo of the LG C2 OLED TV displaying a screensaver of the Earth.
You’re not going to be paying any attention to the C2’s thin bezels.

Elsewhere, the C2 takes after its sleek predecessors in overall design, but there are still noticeable upgrades. LG has managed to shave down the bezels to the point that they’re nearly imperceptible when the TV is powered on, keeping you fully immersed in whatever’s on the screen — be that a movie, game, or those gorgeous Apple TV screensavers that can often steal my attention for minutes at a time. The glossy glass panel can be prone to distracting reflections depending on the time of day or where the TV is positioned in a room; I missed the anti-glare coating of the TCL 6-Series and other TVs at times. But when the viewing conditions are right, LG’s chosen materials only enhance the richness and punch of the TV’s image.

A photo of LG’s C2 with a painting on the screen.
The C2 has impeccable contrast and a surprising amount of depth to its image.

As for the HDMI ports, all four are capable of 120Hz 4K gaming and the whole array of HDMI 2.1 features. It’s nice not having to be so precious about which device gets plugged into what port. Obviously, you’ll want to ensure your soundbar is running through the eARC HDMI port, but the rest provide ample flexibility. LG has been doing this for years, and while some TV makers are finally catching up and going full-bandwidth on every HDMI port, others like Hisense and TCL still limit some of the most important features (like 120Hz) to two ports instead of the whole lot.

Switch on the C2 using LG’s Magic Motion remote — yes, you can still use it like a Wii wand controller with motion controls if you want — and you’re greeted by the latest version of webOS. The company’s TV software switched to a full “homescreen” experience a couple years ago that’s more akin to Samsung’s Tizen and Vizio’s Smartcast OS. I preferred the less busy lower-third “blades” interface of older LGs, but I can’t fault the company for getting with the times. Navigating around webOS on the C2 is smooth and responsive, whether you’re browsing apps on the homescreen, using features like AirPlay 2, or toggling on smart lights through the Home Dashboard.

A photo of the remote control for LG’s C2 OLED TV.
The remote hasn’t changed much; you can use the buttons or point it at the TV for an on-screen cursor. Backlit buttons would be nice.

Unfortunately, webOS has grown very busy, bloated, and random in its current state. Are there a lot of features? Sure. The C2 supports Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and LG’s own voice assistant, as just one example. AirPlay 2 and HomeKit are also in there. But LG is trying to do too much, and it all feels messy. The top of the homescreen has seen some iteration and experimentation over the last few months, none of which has resulted in much progress. Initially, it was a hodgepodge of weather, tips for using the TV’s features, and ads.

Now there’s just a giant “webOS” logo in the top banner taking up a ton of room. Beneath that are trending recommendations mixed with blatant ads. Next is the App List — the section you’ll likely use most often — and then the Home Dashboard, which combines HDMI inputs and smart home device controls in the same row. After that, it’s row after row of forgettable cruft, and the overall experience feels thrown together and convoluted. Why is an entire row on the homescreen dedicated to the built-in web browser that I’ll never open? If I have no interest in LG’s sports alert carousel, there’s no way to hide or remove it; the best I can do is move it further down the screen. Even in the Apps List row, which is customizable, many of LG’s apps can’t be removed. And then there are repetitive rows of suggested content, some of them only featuring three or four items. There’s little rhyme or reason, and I’d love to see LG rein some of this in and give webOS greater focus and purpose in its next lineup of TVs. But I’m not optimistic.

A photo of ads on the LG C2 OLED TV.
Life would be better without so many homescreen ads, LG.
A photo of the different homescreen sections on LG’s C2 OLED TV.
None of these sections can be hidden or deleted. You can only rearrange them.

Thankfully, the TV’s actual settings menus remain similar to past years and are straightforward enough to find what you’re looking for. By default, LG enables energy-saving features that can dim the screen and keep the C2 from looking its very best, so you’ll want to turn those off as you explore the different picture modes and other settings. And if the haphazard layout or ads of webOS’ homescreen get on your nerves, you can always hook up a streaming player from Apple, Roku, Amazon, or Google and largely ignore the TV’s software beyond the basic menus.

But let me tell you: you’ll instantly forget any quibbles with the C2’s homescreen or default settings once you start watching a movie or TV. Simply put, this is the best picture quality you can get for the price. With HDR peaking at slightly over 800 nits, the C2 is perceptibly brighter than last year’s C1 (and certainly the CX I owned previously), even if it’s no match for Mini LED TVs like the TCL 6-Series and recent Hisense sets like the blindingly bright U8H. If your living room catches a ton of sunlight, it might make sense to go with those alternatives — or one of the QD-OLEDs I mentioned earlier, since their improved color brightness can make the whole image seem more radiant. LG’s flagship G2 also ups the total brightness beyond what the C2 is capable of with the help of an integrated heatsink.

A photo of the LG C2 OLED TV’s settings screen on the energy saving menu.
You’ll want to turn off some of LG’s default settings to get the best picture quality.

So it’s not going to win out in every scenario, but the C2 never left me wanting for more. It makes good on the dazzling contrast and inky blacks that OLEDs have long been known for. Colors are vibrant without going overboard, and HDR highlights pop with support for Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10, and HGiG. Watching Top Gun: Maverick on this thing is a special experience.

But there’s more to it than that. I’ve been genuinely impressed by how much depth and dimensionality the C2’s picture provides. I think this comes down to the way LG’s Alpha 9 Gen 5 chip separates the foreground subject from the background and optimizes the image processing of both. In the past, I’ve dismissed this sort of thing as a marketing gimmick, but I’m sold on it here. It’s not 3D by any stretch; the effect is subtle but adds just that little bit extra to the C2’s video fidelity. The quick response time of OLED panels can produce judder when watching movies and other 24fps content. If you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, LG’s Cinematic Movement toggle does a good job of smoothing things out without leaning too hard into the soap opera effect.

I don’t know many people who splurge on an OLED TV only to rely on its built-in speakers, but if you find yourself without a soundbar or surround system for a while, the C2’s audio output is better than tolerable. The company uses some AI tricks to maintain good balance at moderate volume levels, but don’t expect much in the way of bass. These speakers are fine as a stopgap, but you’ll want to pair the C2 with a better sound system to bring its audio experience up to par with its visual one.

A photo of LG’s C2 OLED TV playing Grand Theft Auto V with the gaming shortcuts bar displayed on the screen.
The C2 is perhaps the best gaming TV on the market in 2022.

When you hop over to a gaming console, LG automatically recognizes the hardware. Pressing the settings button on the remote brings up a gaming dashboard that displays the current frame rate, lets you dial in granular black level adjustments, or choose from picture presets based on the genre of the game you’re playing. The C2 exhibits wonderfully low input lag across all of its HDMI ports, and LG stands alone in supporting Dolby Vision gaming in addition to every incarnation of VRR you could want, including AMD FreeSync Premium, Nvidia G-Sync, and the open standard version. This TV is a perfect match for the PS5 and Xbox Series X and can get the most from this generation of consoles. Again, other TVs can go brighter, but the gaming experience isn’t always as consistent. Samsung has had some firmware growing pains with its S95B QD-OLED this year that have at times negatively affected brightness and gaming / VRR performance.

LG’s C2 is a phenomenal TV, and as we enter the holiday season, it’s already being discounted into very tempting territory at many retailers. But you can also still find big savings on last year’s C1, and there’s not a ton separating the two. The C2 gets slightly brighter and offers smoother day-to-day performance, but many of its best attributes can be found in last year’s model. LG is facing impressive competition from Samsung and Sony in the OLED TV space, but it’s still the heavyweight in this market with years of expertise. The C2 is all of that distilled into a beautiful, versatile, and shockingly light rectangle. You can get a very good TV for hundreds less, but few are as uncompromising.

Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge



Source: The Verge

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post