Staying ahead with new Oled TVs

LG's Oled TVs have been outfitted with a more powerful processor that is said to reduce noise, improve colour accuracy and handle fast-moving images better

Life is indeed good for South Korean electronics giant LG, especially when it comes to making and selling premium television sets.

Not only has it chalked up a healthy 33 per cent market share (according to market research firm IHS Markit) in the premium TV segment last year, but LG has also become the dominant manufacturer of expensive Oled TV screens known for their deep blacks and excellent picture quality.

Its Oled screen is found in practically every top Oled TV of the past year.

But LG is not resting on its laurels. Its Oled TVs this year have been outfitted with a more powerful processor that is said to reduce noise, improve colour accuracy and handle fast-moving images better.

Upgrading the brains of the TV does not sound as sexy as improving the panel itself, though judging from the new C8P Oled TV (reviewed here), the screen looks slightly brighter than older LG Oled models.

On the other hand, improving the picture processing helps the TV stand out from the competition, especially when LG's rivals are using similar LG-made Oled panels.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $4,699 (55"), $7,299 (65"), $19,999 (77")

    PICTURE FEATURES: Maximum resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, Advanced HDR

    AUDIO FEATURES: 60W output (2.2ch speakers + subwoofer), Dolby Surround, Dolby Atmos

    OPERATING SYSTEM: webOS 4.0

    CONNECTIVITY: 4 x HDMI 2.0, 3 x USB 2.0, Optical output, Ethernet, Wi-Fi


    RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 5/5

The C8P is the entry-level model and, hence, the most affordable of LG's 2018 Oled TV line-up.

As usual, all of LG's Oled TVs use the same panel, but the premium models have fancier and more extravagant designs.

While it is not as impressive as LG's flagship Signature W8P, with its speaker bar, the C8P holds its own with an elegant, sloped stand. Its Oled screen is ultra-thin, measuring just a few centimetres thick.

Three of its HDMI ports are at the side for easy access, with the fourth at the rear. All the HDMI ports support HDMI 2.0 and can display the wider colour gamut of High Dynamic Range (HDR) content.

In fact, the C8P supports almost all of the existing HDR formats, including the two most widely available HDR10 and Dolby Vision standards.

The only one missing is the new HDR10+ format, backed by rival Samsung and a couple of Hollywood studios.

As expected of an Oled TV, the C8P excels in dark scenes as each pixel can be turned off completely for pitch-black perfection. Viewing angles are also very wide with little colour shift.

Watch a movie in a dark room using its Cinema picture mode for best effect or use the Standard mode in the day.

I would advise against the Vivid picture mode, which can make images appear garish. I found the TruMotion feature, which smoothes fast-moving images, made images appear fake, so you may want to turn it off or tweak it.

Viewed on the LG C8P, the Ultra-HD version of Blade Runner 2049 (2017) felt atmospheric with its lush colours, especially in orange dust-covered Vegas, where we first encounter Harrison Ford's character. I spotted a hint of banding in the orange sky, but the rest of the movie looked impeccable.

Compared with the visuals, the audio department felt lacking, even though it supports Dolby Atmos. The speakers were loud, but not punchy enough. The Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack did not feel as bombastic on the C8P as it did on the Sony A8F. It is advisable to get a soundbar.

The new processor helps to make the C8P's webOS TV interface more fluid and responsive. The platform itself looks mostly unchanged - its launcher is a series of customisable cards or tabs that are snappy to navigate. Video-streaming apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Toggle are available.

The interface is complemented by LG's Magic Remote, which has a built-in gyroscope so you can move it like a wand to control an on-screen cursor.

This feature is not new, but it works well. The remote control is not as minimalistic as Samsung's version, but I found it practical and handy, with useful shortcuts to launch the Netflix and Amazon apps.

Like most high-end TVs these days, the Magic Remote has an integrated microphone for voice commands. The TV's ThinQ AI feature is convenient (and fairly accurate) for searching TV shows with your voice, returning results from Netflix and YouTube.

But other voice commands for changing picture mode or video inputs are less useful as I could easily use the remote control instead to do the job.

LG says a software update in the second half of the year will add more ThinQ AI features, including the Google Assistant.

• Verdict: The best thing about the C8P is its price tag. Starting at $4,699, it offers better value than its more expensive rivals, while having similar, top-class picture quality.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2018, with the headline 'Staying ahead with new Oled TVs'. Print Edition | Subscribe