The LG C1 OLED is the 2021 replacement for the LG CX OLED. As expected, it's an amazing TV, but aside from a few minor tweaks and upgrades—like the new 'Game Optimizer' settings, a redesigned Magic Remote, and a new version of webOS—it performs about the same as its predecessor. Like all OLED TVs, it has self-lit pixels that can be turned off individually to produce an almost infinite contrast ratio. Unfortunately, the unit we tested has exceptionally poor out-of-the-box color accuracy, but that can vary between units, so we may have just gotten one with a bad panel. It also has lower brightness than expected, a bit less bright than the CX. Our testing also confirmed it doesn't have LG's new evo panel like the higher-end LG G1 OLED. Despite these quibbles, the C1 still has a lot to offer, including a new setting for lower input lag, as well as a near-instantaneous response time and variable refresh rate (VRR) support.
The LG C1 is an amazing all-around TV. It has stunning picture quality thanks to its near-infinite contrast ratio, which is great for watching movies or gaming in the dark. The near-instant response time makes motion look exceptionally clear in fast-moving games and sports, and its low input lag is great for gaming or use as a PC monitor. While it doesn't get very bright for HDR, its high contrast helps it deliver a satisfying HDR experience.
The LG C1 is fantastic for watching movies. Its near-infinite contrast ratio produces deep inky blacks that look amazing in a dark room. It has no problems upscaling lower-resolution content either, and there's no visible blooming around bright objects or subtitles. However, you may notice some stutter with low frame rate content due to the TV's fast response time.
The LG C1 is great for watching TV shows. It has wide viewing angles, so the image stays accurate when you move off-center. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very bright, so visibility may be an issue in very bright or sunny rooms. On the upside, it has incredible reflection handling and upscales low-resolution content without issue.
The LG C1 is an excellent TV for watching sports. Thanks to its near-instant response time, motion looks exceptionally clear, and it has a Black Frame Insertion (BFI) feature to further reduce blur. If you like to watch games with friends, its wide viewing angles provide an accurate image even from the side. That said, its brightness is limited, so it's not great for very bright or sunny rooms.
The LG C1 is incredible for playing video games. It has very little input lag and a near-instantaneous response time for smooth motion. It supports FreeSync, G-SYNC, and HDMI Forum VRR, and its near-infinite contrast makes games look stunning when playing in a dark room. Unfortunately, the risk for burn-in goes up with static elements like a game HUD, but it shouldn't be an issue if you watch and play varied content.
The LG C1 is amazing for watching movies in HDR. It supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision but not HDR10+. It's unfortunately not very bright, so it may not bring out the brightest highlights, but its near-infinite contrast ratio still allows it to deliver a satisfying HDR experience. It also has a wide color gamut but doesn't map every color well, which shouldn't be noticeable to most people, but some colors may appear inaccurate.
The LG C1 is a superb TV for HDR gaming. Motion looks exceptionally clear thanks to the near-instant response time, and input lag is very low. Unfortunately, its HDR brightness is just okay, so the brightest highlights may not pop as they should, but the near-infinite contrast ratio still helps deliver a satisfying HDR experience. It may be susceptible to permanent burn-in, but it shouldn't be an issue if you watch and play varied content.
The LG C1 is excellent for use as a PC monitor. It has wide viewing angles, so the image doesn't look washed out at the edges when sitting up close. It also has a very low input lag and exceptionally fast response time. Finally, it can display proper chroma 4:4:4 and supports FreeSync and G-SYNC VRR. Unfortunately, static elements like a desktop interface may increase the risk of permanent burn-in.
The LG C1 is the mid-range 4k OLED in LG's 2021 lineup. Replacing the LG CX OLED from 2020, it sits above the entry-level LG B1 OLED and below the premium 'gallery'-style LG G1 OLED. Its main competitors are other OLEDs like the Sony A80J OLED and the Sony A90J OLED, as well as high-end LED TVs like the Samsung QN90A QLED.
The stand supports the TV well and feels very solid. It sits fairly low, so placing a soundbar in front could potentially block the screen a bit. As mentioned, the stand is quite wide, almost as wide as the TV itself, so you'll need a big table or console if you're not wall-mounting it.
Footprint of the stand: 36.1" x 9.4"
The top part of the TV is extremely thin, while the bottom is thicker. It's still very thin overall and should sit close to the wall when wall-mounted, albeit not as flat against the wall as the LG GX OLED and likely the LG G1 OLED.
The LG C1 feels incredibly well-built, much like the LG CX OLED. The metal on the back and in the stand gives it a premium, sturdy feel, and while there's a bit of flex around the inputs, it feels very solid overall. There are no obvious gaps or issues, and most people should be very satisfied with the build quality.
As all OLEDs do, the LG C1 has a near-infinite contrast ratio that can produce perfect, inky blacks, which is ideal for watching anything in a dark room.
Update 05/07/2021: We updated the TV's firmware to 03.11.15 and retested the brightness. We actually measured higher SDR brightness after the update, but it's still not as bright as the LG CX OLED.
The SDR brightness is okay, but not quite as bright as the LG CX. It's not recommended for very bright rooms, as it might not be able to overcome glare. There's a fair amount of variation across different scenes due to the ABL.
We measured SDR brightness after calibration, using the 'Expert (Dark space, night)' Picture Mode, Color Depth set to 'Warm 50', Peak Brightness set to 'High' and OLED Pixel Brightness at max. The brightness was about the same before calibration.
To get the brightest possible image at the expense of picture quality, you can set the Picture Mode to 'Vivid', set Brightness and Contrast to max, Peak Brightness to 'High', and Auto Dynamic Contrast to 'High'. We hit 489 nits in the 10% window using these settings.
We received comments suggesting that brightness may change after 100 hours of use, but we typically only measure the brightness after a 30 minute warm-up. That said, we retested the Sony A90J OLED after over 100 hours of use and didn't notice a significant increase in brightness, and we expect the same is likely to be true with the C1.
Since OLED TVs don't use backlighting, the LG C1 doesn't have a local dimming feature. However, its self-illuminating pixels produce perfect blacks with no visible blooming. The videos above are provided for reference.
For the most part, the 'Game Optimizer' mode looks exactly the same as non-game modes, but we noticed a strange bit of flickering in two scenes in our real content demo video: the fight scene and the scene with the girls. With lights turned on, it's almost impossible to notice, but when we turned off the lights and turned the brightness all the way up, the flickering was just barely noticeable. Whatever the cause, this issue likely won't be noticeable in real usage. If you do notice anything strange with the C1 in 'Game Optimizer' mode, let us know.
Update 05/07/2021: We updated the TV's firmware to 03.11.15 and retested the brightness. We measured a slightly higher peak brightness in some of the test slides, but it's not a significant or noticeable difference.
HDR brightness is okay. As you can see in the EOTF, the overall brightness is on-target, but it may not be bright enough to hit the brightest highlights. The ABL is very aggressive in HDR, which accounts for the variation in brightness and why it gets so dim with scenes that have large areas of brightness. It was especially noticeable and distracting when connected to our PC, as it dimmed any windows that were left open within minutes. Differences in brightness between this and the LG CX OLED may simply come down to panel variation.
We measured HDR brightness before calibration, using the 'Cinema' Picture Mode, with Brightness and Contrast set to max, Peak Brightness on 'High', and Color Depth set to 'Warm 50'. All other picture processing settings were left disabled. If you want to make HDR brighter, you can try enabling Dynamic Tone Mapping or setting Auto Dynamic Contrast to 'High', which can help as seen in this EOTF but is highly dependent on the content and even individual scenes.
To get the brightest possible image at the expense of picture quality, use the 'Vivid' Picture Mode, enable Dynamic Tone Mapping, and set Auto Dynamic Contrast to 'High', and leave the other settings as mentioned above. We hit 860 nits in the 2% window using these settings.
Update 05/07/2021: We updated the TV's firmware to 03.11.15 and retested the brightness. We measured slightly higher brightness after the update, but it's not significantly brighter.
HDR brightness is the same in 'Game Optimizer' mode as it is in 'Cinema' mode. We measured slightly less brightness, but it's very difficult to notice a difference with the naked eye. This is normal as measurements can vary slightly between test runs.
The LG C1 has excellent gray uniformity, although this can vary between units. There's very little dirty screen effect, and the screen is very uniform overall, which is great for content like sports. In near dark scenes, there are some extremely faint lines, but you'd have to be looking for them to really notice, and they should be even less noticeable with real content.
Because the LG C1 can turn off pixels individually, it has near-perfect black uniformity, with no noticeable blooming. Note that black uniformity can vary slightly between units.
The LG C1 OLED has amazing viewing angles. The image stays accurate even when you move off-center, making it great for wider seating arrangements.
The LG C1 has incredible reflection handling, so it does a great job of diffusing light. That said, we still don't recommend placing it directly opposite bright lights or windows. Note that the lighting looks different in the photo compared with the LG CX OLED because it was taken in a different room.
Update 05/10/2021: We retested the pre-calibration accuracy with the Peak Brightness setting turned off, and it improved some of the results. We measured the following:
However, we've decided to keep the original published results in the review, since the difference is minimal. The color dE is a bit better, but the mapping is still off, as you can see here. There's also the possibility that the difference is due to the panel aging a bit and having been used since we first tested it, or even the recently released firmware update. Because the difference is negligible, we recommend keeping Peak Brightness on, since prioritizing a brighter image will result in a more enjoyable viewing experience. We wanted to highlight this issue, though, since it's something that may potentially be fixed in the future, for users who want to enjoy both a brighter image and accurate colors out-of-the-box.
Surprisingly, the LG C1 has bad out-of-the-box color accuracy, although this can vary between units, and we may have just received a bad panel. We double-checked our testing equipment and tried adjusting certain settings to rule out interference, but it's just that bad. The white balance is very off, as are most colors, and the color temperature is colder than our target, giving the image a blue tint. Gamma is okay, but some brighter scenes are too bright and darker scenes too dim.
After calibration, the accuracy is fantastic and much improved. Remaining inaccuracies shouldn't be noticeable with the naked eye, and both the color temperature and gamma are almost perfect.
You can see our recommended settings here.
This TV upscales 480p content well, with no obvious upscaling artifacts.
With a WRGB pixel structure, the LG C1 uses four sub-pixels, but all four are never used at the same time. This image shows the red, white, and blue sub-pixels. You can see the green sub-pixels here.
The LG C1 has a wide color gamut for HDR content. It has near-full coverage of the commonly used DCI P3 color space and pretty good coverage of the wider Rec. 2020. However, while it can reproduce a wide range of colors, it doesn't map them very well, so depending on the signal, some colors may be off the mark.
While we received reports that some owners have C1s with LG's next-gen OLED evo panel, we measured the spectrum of our panel, and from this, it appears our unit doesn't have the evo panel. This checks out, considering the lower brightness and the fact that LG only advertises that the LG G1 OLED has it.
Color volume is decent. It's mostly limited by its lower peak brightness. It can produce dark, saturated colors very well thanks to its high contrast ratio, but at higher luminance levels colors start to wash out.
Gradients look great. There's some noticeable banding in the grays and greens especially, but it looks quite good overall. The Smooth Gradation setting helps smooth out gradients a bit, especially when set to 'Medium' or 'High', but it can also cause a loss of fine details.
The LG C1 doesn't show any signs of temporary image retention, although this can vary between units.
This test is only indicative of short-term image retention, and not the permanent burn-in that may occur with longer exposure to static images.
Like most OLED TVs, the C1 isn't immune to permanent burn-in, but we don't expect it to be an issue if you watch varied content. Luckily, it has a few features to help reduce the risk. These include Pixel Cleaning, Screen Move, and Adjust Logo Brightness settings. You can read more about our investigation into long-term OLED burn-in here.
The LG C1 has a near-instant response time, but you may still notice motion blur caused by persistence—that is, the way our eyes track movement.
Because it's an OLED, the LG C1 doesn't have a backlight, but it can still emulate the Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) of LED TVs by turning its pixels on and off. For that reason, it isn't flicker-free; the slight dip in brightness you can see in the chart every 8 ms is due to the TV's 120Hz refresh rate, but it shouldn't be noticeable.
The LG C1 has an optional BFI feature, which can help reduce motion blur by inserting black frames into content at regular intervals, typically matched to the frame rate of the content.
To enable BFI, first set TruMotion to 'User Selection', then set OLED Motion Pro to 'High' for 60Hz content, or 'Low' or 'Medium' for 120Hz content. You can also set the BFI to flicker at 120Hz for 60Hz if you wish, although it may result some image duplication.
In 'Game Optimizer' mode, the settings are the same, but note that you can't enable BFI if you have Prevent Input Delay set to 'Boost'. Unfortunately, you can't enable BFI in 'PC' mode.
The LG C1 can interpolate lower frame rate content up to 120fps to make motion look smoother, a feature also known as the 'Soap Opera Effect'. It looks pretty good; while there were some artifacts with our test pattern, it was much better with real content. To enable it, set TruMotion to 'User Selection' and set the 'De-Judder' and 'De-Blur' sliders to 10.