We've reviewed over 15 LG TVs in the last two years. LG releases a lot of TVs every year, probably more than any other manufacturer. Most of them are inexpensive, but they rarely offer good value compared to their competition. Over the past few years, LG has become known for their OLED and IPS LCD TVs. Their OLEDs are especially notable for being the first of their kind to be widely distributed.
The best LG 4k TV is the LG B9. Like any TV in their OLED lineup, there's no backlighting and it can switch off individual pixels, so it displays perfect blacks. It displays a wide color gamut and has good color volume for HDR content, but unfortunately, it only has decent HDR peak brightness so it can't bring out vivid colors the way it should. Along with its perfect contrast ratio, it has outstanding viewing angles, so you can place this TV in a wide seating arrangement and not lose image accuracy. A bonus of getting an OLED over an LED is their perfect contrast ratio and great viewing angles. With LED TVs, different panels perform differently, as VA panels have a better contrast ratio but poor viewing angles, while IPS panels generally have great viewing angles and a poor contrast ratio.
Gamers will enjoy the incredibly low input lag and the near-perfect response time, but with such a fast response time, content appears to stutter. Luckily, there's a black frame insertion feature to help reduce motion blur. Unfortunately, as is the case with all OLEDs, it has a risk for permanent burn-in, so you shouldn't use this TV as a computer monitor with its static displays, but it shouldn't be a problem with varied content. Also, if you place this TV in a bright room, it does an outstanding job at handling reflections, so even with direct sunlight, the reflections shouldn't be too distracting. This is the entry-level OLED in their lineup, as the LG C9 OLED and LG E9 OLED are higher-end versions, but they perform very similarly to this TV for a higher cost, making this the best 4k LG TV.
The best LG TV in their 4k LED lineup that we've tested so far is the LG SM9000. Most of LG's LED TVs use IPS panels, and this one is no exception. It sits below the LG SM9500 in the 2019 lineup and it has slightly worse performance than the higher-end TV, but this one is easier to find in 2020. It has wide viewing angles and a low contrast ratio, and even though it has a full-array local dimming feature, it doesn't deepen blacks all that much. It performs best as a gaming TV as it has really low input lag, a good response time, and a black frame insertion feature. It also has a 120Hz refresh rate, support for HDMI Forum variable refresh rate technology (VRR), and it's G-SYNC compatible with newer NVIDIA graphics cards.
Unfortunately, it doesn't get very bright, especially in HDR. Even though it displays a wide color gamut, it can't make highlights pop the way they're supposed to in HDR content. It also has some uniformity issues but this could change from unit to unit. On the upside, it upscales lower resolution well and it's able to remove judder from any source, like native apps or Blu-ray players. It's a great choice to use as a computer monitor as it displays proper chroma 4:4:4 at 1080p and 4k, which is important for reading text. It also supports common audio passthroughs, including eARC, allowing you to send high-quality audio over HDMI. Overall, this is a good TV that should please most people, making it the best LG 4k LED TV we've tested so far.
The best LG TV in the budget category that we've tested so far is the LG UM7300. It's an entry-level TV in the 2019 lineup that offers decent overall performance and it's a good choice for sports fans. It has wide viewing angles, perfect for when you want to watch the big game with a group of friends, and it has a good response time, so fast-moving content looks good, although some people may notice duplication in motion. If you watch TV in bright rooms, it has impressive reflection handling, but it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare. It upscales lower resolution content well and it removes judder from most sources, except it can't remove judder from 60Hz sources, like a cable box.
Sadly, it has some flaws associated with entry-level and budget TVs. HDR content doesn't look good on this TV because it doesn't get bright enough to bring out highlights and it can't display a wide color gamut. It's also limited to a 60Hz refresh rate and it doesn't have a black frame insertion feature to improve the appearance of motion. However, it has a low input lag in 'Game' mode and it has good smart features. LG's WebOS interface is easy to use and the app store has a great selection of apps available. You can also use LG's Magic Remote as a traditional remote or as a point-and-press remote, like a computer mouse. Overall, it's a decent TV available in a wide range of sizes and it won't cost you much.
Samsung TVs will, on average, have a better picture quality than most LG LED TVs. This is mostly thanks to their use of VA type LCD instead of LG's IPS, which trades contrast directly in front for wider viewing angles. This, of course, doesn't apply to LG's OLED series of TVs, which are better than Samsung's offerings in almost every aspect. They do come at a definite price premium, though, compared to the mainstream Samsung models.
Sony doesn't offer as many models in their range. They offer both VA and IPS type LCD TVs. In 2019 Sony released a few more very good OLED models. We've also found Sony's IPS TVs to usually have better screen uniformity compared to their LG counterparts.
Most LG TVs, unfortunately, don't offer the best value. While their IPS LCD offerings offer great viewing angles that are useful for wider living rooms, they aren't the only ones in this space, and competition will often outperform them. LG were the pioneers of OLED, and they still offer the best TVs on the market, but unfortunately, this isn't representative of their entire product range.
LG has a large lineup that covers everything from the very cheap and small lower-resolution TVs to the very high end with their OLEDs. The first letter corresponds to the resolution of the TV, the second letter in their model numbers correspond to the year of release and usually, the higher the number, the higher the price range.
For example: SM9000 = 2019 high-end LED TV; UM = 2019 4K TV; LM = 2019 1080p TV.
For their OLED line-up, the model numbers start with a letter, followed by a number that represents the year (8 = 2018, 9 = 2019). For example: C9 = 2019 OLED TV; B9 = Entry-level 2019 OLED TV; E8 = High-end 2018 OLED TV.
LG's WebOS smart platform hasn't changed much over the years, but that's quite a good thing. A few years ago, it was, by and large, the best solution. While competition has tightened up since then, incremental and polishing updates allowed it to remain at the top. While it is visually very similar to the version that first launched, it is a lot more stable and responsive and is probably the smart platform least prone to slowdowns.
WebOS hasn't changed much since it was first introduced, but it is still one of the best looking platforms around. It's colorful, and its animations are both intuitive and beautiful. Everything feels responsive and snappy, and you are rarely left waiting for something to happen.
WebOS has one glaring issue: the inclusion of advertising sprinkled around the operating system. While we've yet to see them on the main screen, they're just about everywhere else. Voice search, app store, web browser, all of them will sometimes show ads in their user interface. The worst is that there isn't a good way to disable them from within the TV itself.
The LG content store delivers just about every app one would look for on a smart TV, as well as direct rental of films. Essentials such as Netflix, Amazon Video, and YouTube are all installed by default, but the range is continuously expanding. Overall, LG TVs have one of the widest selections of apps available on any smart platform.
WebOS TVs that come with LG's "magic remote" have voice control. There's a big microphone button in the center of the remote that, once pressed, prompts the search interface. It's useful for searching for content since it goes through most of your apps and allows you to even search for actors. Unfortunately, though, it doesn't have very in-depth control of the settings, like what you find on Samsung TVs, so you can't adjust the brightness without leaving what you're watching. The only thing you can't really do is turn the TV off and adjust the volume.
WebOS 4.0, included in the 2018 line of OLED and Super LED TVs, added a new voice control processor with ThinQ AI. The system is able to perform advanced searches similar to Siri on the AppleTV. It can identify actors in movies, search for sports scores, even find pictures in your favorite cloud service based on keywords. It can also communicate with a multitude of smart home connected devices, including lights and thermostats. These new TVs are also able to interact with Google Home or Amazon Alexa-connected personal assistants.
LG’s magic remote found on higher-end models offers motion-controlled point and click functionality, which makes navigating menus a lot simpler. It isn't the smallest remote we've seen, but it is nicely sculpted and very comfortable to hold.
There are many more buttons on this remote than on Samsung’s, but they are clearly labeled and make it quicker to pick up the remote and use – no tutorial or manual required.
LG’s remote app, called LG TV Plus, offers quick access to most of the TV's controls and is compatible with all LG smart TVs. It isn't as advanced as some of the other remote apps, but it does stream content from your phone or tablet to the TV. It can launch apps and change inputs directly, without having to use a navigation button to navigate the on-screen menus.
There aren't many issues with LG WebOS. The previous version had some performance issues, with occasional hiccups and frequent dropped frames in animations. For the most part, these issues have been fixed, and the latest version, performs extremely well, but the interface can still hang sometimes.
LG undeniably offers top-shelf products with OLED TVs. The technology is now quite mature and is quite definitely the best for most people. Unfortunately, these prowesses do not reflect the rest of their TV range. While every LG smart TV comes packaged with their excellent WebOS platform, the performance of the displays often leaves a lot to be desired. They do have consistently great viewing angles, but that comes to the cost of having mediocre picture quality in a dark room; quite the opposite from their OLED offerings, some might say.