LG C8 (OLED65C8PLA) Review
Is this the OLED sweet spot?
What is the LG C8?The LG C8 is the Korean manufacturer's latest 4K OLED TV and represents the entry point for its new Alpha 9 Intelligent Processor. As with last year, all the models above the C8 – the E8, G8 and W8 – offer an identical level of picture quality, performance and features; the only differences are related to cosmetics and sound quality. However unlike last year the C8 does differ from the B8, which uses the less sophisticated Alpha 7 processor found in LG's latest SUPER UHD TVs.
At first glance the features and specifications of the LG C8 might seem the same as last year, but there are differences. As mentioned this new Ultra HD OLED TV boasts the Alpha 9 intelligent processor, and with it comes new features such as de-contouring, black frame insertion and auto-calibration. In addition there's the excellent Dynamic Tone Mapping feature which, whilst not new, now has its own control rather than being hidden away in the menus.
If that wasn't enough, the C8 includes the latest version of LG's superb WebOS smart platform with the Magic remote and improved voice control. LG has now included ThinQ Artificial Intelligence, which allows for control and communication with other supporting devices. There's also a snazzy new design that includes a new stand that not only looks great, but is also intended to improve the sound quality of the C8. Throw in a comprehensive set of streaming services and you've got a strong contender.
The C8 comes in three screen sizes, the 55-inch OLED55C8PLA which costs £2,999; the 65-inch OLED65C8PLA which I'm reviewing here and will set you back £4,499; and the massive 77-inch OLED77C8PLA which can be yours for a surprisingly reasonable £7,999. All those prices are at the time of writing (May 2018) but it's worth noting that LG are currently offering £500 cash-back, so if you shop around you should be able to get the C8 for less than its listed price.
LG's B7/C7 was my favourite TV of last year, so can the C8 build on that success and take the crown again - let's see.
LG C8 DesignThe C8 is a lovely-looking TV, with a simple design that uses minimalism to emphasise the slimness of the panel and the quality of the image on the screen. As you'd expect for an OLED TV, the panel is mere millimetres thick at the top but widens out to 47mm further down, where the connections, electronics and speakers are housed. There's no bezel but there is a 10mm black border around the screen itself, along with a black metal trim around the outer edge. The rear is brushed aluminium at the top and a dark grey plastic further down, but the overall build quality is excellent.The attractive sloped stand, or 'Alpine' stand as LG prefer to call it, matches the rest of the design but serves a practical purpose. It takes the sound waves from the TV's downward-firing speakers, and redirects them towards the listener (more on this later). The stand itself is 900mm wide at the front, 340mm wide at the rear and it's 230mm deep. There's also 80mm of clearance under the screen, if you're thinking of using the C8 with a soundbar.
The TV itself measures 1,449 x 831 x 47mm (WxHxD) and weighs 21kg without the stand, and with the stand attached it measures 1,449 x 881 x 230mm and weighs 25.4kg. If you would prefer to wall mount your C8, it is compatible with a 300x200 VESA bracket.
The C8 is a gorgeous TV, with a stand that is both attractive and functional
ConnectivityAll the connections are at the rear left as you face the screen and it's a fairly comprehensive set of inputs. I'm pleased to see that LG has weeded out all the useless legacy connections, instead concentrating on what people will actually use.
So there are four HDMI 2.0b inputs that support 4K/60p, 4:4:4, Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), HDCP 2.2 and High Dynamic Range – HDR10, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), Advanced HDR by Technicolor and Dolby Vision. Three of the HDMI inputs face sideways, one of which supports ARC (Audio Return Channel), and they're located 230mm from the edge of the screen. The fourth HDMI input faces rearwards and all the HDMI connections support LG's Simplink (HDMI CEC).
There are also three USB ports, with two facing rearwards and the other one facing sideways, along with a sideways-facing CI (Common Interface) slot. There are rearwards-facing terrestrial and satellite tuners, an Ethernet port, an optical digital output and an analogue line out that doubles as a headphone jack. There is also built-in WiFi (802.11ac), WiFi Direct and Bluetooth (V4.2).
ControlThe C8 offers a number of alternative methods of control but the first, and by far the best, is the Magic Remote. LG have been using this motion sensitive controller for a few years now, gradually improving it with each iteration. The latest version (MR18) is a triumph of consumer design, offering a simple controller that uses an on-screen cursor and a track wheel, to allow fast and easy navigation of the WebOS smart platform.
It's also beautifully ergonomic, fitting comfortably in your hand and waking up with a simple shake. You'll get so used to conjuring magic with this remote that other controllers will seem antiquated by comparison, disappointingly failing to respond as you instinctively shake them. If that isn't enough you can even use the Magic remote to control other devices, and we had no problems controlling the LG UP970 and Samsung M9500 4K Blu-ray players.
This year LG have improved the voice control feature, thanks to the inclusion of ThinQ AI. The addition of natural language processing, means that you can better control the C8 using more complex voice commands.
Overall I found that the system worked very well, understanding fairly complex voice commands, even when I put on silly accents to challenge it. Although I still found the majority of the controls easier using the Magic Remote, especially since the microphone is in the controller and thus it was in my hand already. However, where voice control really comes in handy is in terms of searches, where it saves you having to type anything out.If the Magic Remote and natural voice control aren't enough, there's also a very good remote app – called simply LG TV Plus – which is available for free for both iOS and Android. The app will detect your TV and then send a pin number to the TV, which you need to put into the app itself. Once you've done that, you have access to a series of screens that allow you to replicate the functions of the Magic Remote.
Whilst the remote app is perfectly good, the reality is that the Magic Remote is so much better that I can't see any circumstance where the app would be my preferred option. Still, if you're the kind of person that has to use your smartphone or tablet for everything, then at least you have that option.
There's plenty of connections, the Magic Remote is a joy to use and there's improved voice control
FunctionalityLG's WebOS Smart TV platform remains the best and most influential system in the industry and, four years after its launch, it's still essentially the same. Frankly LG got this one right from day one, so there's no real need to change much. That hasn't stopped it from making a few minor tweaks but the platform is still built around a central launcher bar that appears along the bottom of the screen and quad core processing.
Unlike certain other Smart TV systems I could mention (Android... cough, cough), WebOS is fast, responsive and rock solid in operation. It's also utterly intuitive to use and even the worst Luddite will be navigating it like a master within minutes.
The secret to the success of WebOS is the way that it treats everything as an app – so whether it's an HDMI input, a video streaming service or the web browser, you simply select what you want from the launcher bar. You can also customise the layout and put your favourite apps at the front of the launcher bar.
It's hard to overstate just how good WebOS is: want to watch Netflix, just click on the Netflix tab on the launcher bar. In the middle of Lost in Space and you fancy watching something on Amazon Video, simply bring up the launcher bar and hit the Amazon tab. It's that simple.
So what's new for this year? Well as I've already mentioned you can voice control WebOS, and whilst it doesn't always work, it's very cool when you say something like "play Stranger Things on Netflix" and the TV actually does just that.
This functionality is tied into ThinQ AI, resulting in a smarter TV that not only understands natural language instructions thanks to intelligent voice recognition, but can also make recommendations thanks to an advanced algorithm that monitors your viewing habits. All you need to do is move the Magic Remote cursor to the right of the screen to see your recommendations.
This year LG have also added more art to the Gallery feature, which essentially turns your OLED TV into a constantly changing painting – something that works particularly well when the TV is wall mounted. There are also the Focus Zoom and Live Zoom features, although they're a bit of a gimmick.
More useful is the Audio Guidance (text to speech) feature, the Multi-view feature, the My Content feature, the Web Browser and the LG Content Store. There's also a music Player that supports AC4, AC3(Dolby Digital), EAC3, HE-AAC, AAC, MP2, MP3, PCM, DTS, DTS-HD, DTS Express, WMA and apt-X.
The LG C8 has an 8 day EPG (electronic programme guide) that, like everything else, you simply choose from the WebOS launcher bar – you can also select Live TV from there to access the C8's built-in tuners. The guide itself is sensibly laid out, it defaults to showing seven channels over two hours and there's a PIP of the current channel in the top left hand corner.
You can also access the My Channels feature, as well as the Channel Advisor, plus there's the option for digital recording and time shifting. Frankly, I'm struggling to think of anything that the C8 can't do, making it one of the most complete TVs I've ever experienced.
WebOS remains the best and most influential Smart TV platform in the industry
LG C8 FeaturesAside from all the features that I've already mentioned, the LG C8 offers a comprehensive set of video streaming services that includes Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NOW TV, YouTube and all the UK catch-up services thanks to Freeview Play.
In the case of Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, the C8 also supports 4K and HDR (HDR10 for Amazon and YouTube, and Dolby Vision for Netflix). The C8 support Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and whilst it's still in the testing phase, the clips currently available on the BBC iPlayer look stunning.
It's a small thing, but I also like how the C8 identifies which type of HDR signal it is receiving, which is just as well since it supports almost every version including Advanced HDR by Technicolor. In fact the only version of HDR it doesn't support is HDR10+, but that's not really a great loss at the moment.
Aside from Amazon, no one supports this open source version of dynamic metadata, but conversely Dolby Vision, which also uses dynamic metadata, is going from strength to strength in terms of support and content. Speaking of Dolby, LG is also one of the few manufacturers to offer Atmos support on high-end TVs like the C8.In terms of other specifications, there's the Alpha 9 Intelligent Processor that I've already mentioned. This adds a host of new features to the C8, including an object depth enhancer, an adaptive colour enhancer, a frequency-based sharpness enhancer and quad step noise reduction.
You also get a new de-contouring feature and Black Frame Insertion (BFI), although the real highlight is Dynamic Tone Mapping which analyses each HDR scene and tries to mimic the benefits of dynamic metadata. The C8 can also accept 4K signal at 120p, although not over HDMI because version 2.0 doesn't support High Frame Rate (HFR).
The colour accuracy of LG’s latest OLED TVs has also been improved. They now use a colour table that is seven times more accurate than their previous models. The addition of True Colour Accuracy Pro increases the look-up tables (LUTs) from 17 x 17 x 17 (4,193 points) to 33 x 33 x 33 (35,937 points).
To take full advantage of this increased colour accuracy, LG has added a new auto-calibration feature this year. This allows CalMAN to control an LG TV at a hardware level, rather than via the user interface calibration controls, and the Alpha 9 processor uses the full 33 x 33 x 33 LUTs.
You can get a very accurate image in minutes using the Matrix LUT option or go for the full calibration experience and run thousands of measurements, although this does take hours. Of course you'll need a pattern generator, a colour meter and CalMAN calibration software but the feature allows you to quickly and easily create accurate Cinema, ISF, Technicolor, HDR, Dolby Vision and Game modes.
LG's OLED TVs boast a comprehensive set of features including almost every version of HDR
Out of the Box MeasurementsThe C8 uses the same basic picture menus as last year, although LG has made a few minor changes. It has finally dropped the Horizontal and Vertical Sharpness controls in favour of a single Sharpness control, and also sensibly dropped the Edge Enhancement control. In the HDR modes, the excellent Dynamic Tone Mapping feature now gets its own control, with Dynamic Contrast dropped to make room.
Otherwise it's business as usual and if you're looking for an accurate picture mode, I'd recommend either the Technicolor Expert, ISF Expert (Bright Room) or ISF Expert (Dark Room) – they all use the same starting point. Whichever one you choose, make sure TruMotion is off for movies and that the Colour Gamut is set to Auto. Then all you need to do is lower the OLED Light control, because its default setting is rather high.The out of the box accuracy of the LG C8 was impressive, with all the DeltaEs (errors) below the visible threshold of three and most below one. In fact from zero to 60IRE, the performance is reference and it's only a slight defect in green and some minor bumps in the gamma curve at 70 to 100IRE that spoil the party. The C8's 2- and 20-point white balance control should make it easy to correct these very minor errors.The colour gamut was just as impressive out of the box, with accurate luminance measurements (not shown on the graph above) and excellent tracking at 25, 50, 75 and 100% saturation points. Aside from some slight hue errors in green, there isn't really anything to write home about, but you can see that white is very slightly skewed towards magenta, due to there being a touch more red and blue in the brighter part of the greyscale. Once I've calibrated the greyscale, it will be a simple task to tweak this already excellent performance with the included colour management system (CMS).
This is a near-reference performance in terms of greyscale, gamma and colour accuracy but before anyone starts accusing LG of sending out 'golden samples', I genuinely believe that TVs are getting more accurate out of the box these days. I recently calibrated a retail B7 that was built in March, bought in April and run in for 100 hours. The largest greyscale DeltaE on this TV was 1.3 and all the colours were below 2 as well. To say I was impressed would be an under-statement, although it didn't leave me with much to do!
Calibrated MeasurementsAs I've mentioned there are 2- and 20-point while balance controls to calibrate the greyscale and gamma, along with a full CMS to tweak the colour gamut. Given the superb level of accuracy out of the box, this shouldn't take long.And it didn't. As you can see above, once I'd tweaked the 80IRE (High) setting with the 2-point control and fine-tuned using the 20-point, the results were absolutely perfect in terms of greyscale and gamma.The same was true of the colour gamut, and once I'd calibrated the greyscale it was just a case of tweaking a few colours here and there. The result is an equally impressive colour performance, with all the primary and secondary colours accurately tracking their saturation points. The luminance measurements were still spot-on as well, so overall colour errors were below one.
Auto-calibration: I also tried the new auto-calibration feature, which is an impressive piece of software developed by LG in conjunction with CalMAN. Panasonic and Samsung also offer auto-calibration features, but this is the first time that the software has accessed the TV's hardware directly, rather than going through the calibration controls in the menu.
The results were impressive, and although the full calibration involves thousands of measurements and takes hours (this is aimed at professional users like mastering suites and effects houses), the quickest version takes a lot less time. The graphs in the Features & Specs section show an SDR auto-calibration that took less than 15 minutes to run and delivered a superb level of accuracy.
One thing I did notice was that after running the auto-calibration, certain menus such as the White Balance and CMS are greyed out and can't be accessed. This is clearly to stop a calibration that has involved thousands of measurements and took hours to run, from being accidentally changed. This makes sense for a professional facility but it does mean that calibrators can't make a note of the settings for their clients; nor can they access those controls to put the calibrated settings back in should the need arise.
We asked CalMAN about this and they said: “The huge advantages of 3D LUT calibration are primarily more flexibility and granularity in correcting the image as precisely as possible. The LUTs are stored in a way that is difficult to accidentally lose. We would expect it to be a rare occasion indeed when a LUT is wiped out. Nevertheless, we’re working on ways to provide a restore capability in the future as insurance against these exceptional cases."
The out-of-the-box accuracy is very impressive and reference after calibration
HDR MeasurementsThe LG C8 supports high dynamic range and specifically HDR10, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), Advanced HDR by Technicolor and Dolby Vision but, as previously mentioned, LG does not support HDR10+.
Although an OLED TV isn't capable of reaching the peak highlights of an LCD TV, it's worth pointing out that it does have a couple of other advantages. First of all HDR isn't just about brightness, it's also about providing more detail in the dark parts of the image, and here OLED has a definite advantage.
In addition, whilst the peak highlights aren't as bright as an LCD, an OLED can deliver those highlights at a pixel level, thus providing far greater precision and control. There's also no danger of blooming in HDR and, thanks to the wide viewing angles, the performance won't start to deteriorate as you move off axis.The LG 65C8 performed extremely well in our HDR tests, as you can see above. The greyscale and the colour of white are spot-on, resulting in errors that are below one for most of the range. The TV also tone maps to the PQ EOTF very precisely, ensuring that you're seeing exactly what the content creators want you to see.
The errors at 80, 90 and 100IRE just represent where the peak brightness of the OLED rolls off against the target scale of 1,400nits. I actually measure the peak brightness using a 10% window in the accurate Cinema mode at 740nits, which compares exactly with the roll off in the graph above. However on very small specular highlights, I would expect the C8 to get closer to 900nits.I measured the wide colour gamut coverage of the 65-inch C8 at 98% of DCI-P3 using xy coordinates and 99% with uv coordinates, which equates to 71% of Rec.2020 with xy and 74% with uv. The overall tracking against DCI-P3 within Rec.2020 was also very good, with most of the colours tracking their saturation targets closely, aside from a slight under-saturation of red and some hue errors in green.
Auto-calibration: This feature also offers the opportunity to auto-calibrate the HDR and Dolby Vision picture modes. This is a welcome feature, because up until now calibration of HDR has been a bit hit-and-miss. Although LG did offer a Dolby Vision manual calibration via CalMAN last year, it's implementation was slightly messy, requiring the use of a USB drive to load the Dolby reference file into the TV. Now this is all done via IP, thus making the calibration of both HDR and Dolby Vision quick, easy and accurate.
LG OLED65C8 General Performance
Panel Uniformity and Viewing AnglesLG has made huge improvements in the panel uniformity over the last few years and the C8 is the best example yet. There was absolutely no sign of any vignetting or dark edges, no dirty screen effect (DSE) and no discolouration. Although there was very minor banding visible just above black on a 5% pattern, this was never visible with actual viewing content, and even when watching football there was no banding on camera pans across the pitch.
The LG C8 is an OLED TV so naturally the viewing angles are superb, with no visible deterioration in contrast or colour performance, even at extreme angles.
Although an OLED panel can theoretically suffer from image retention and screen burn, LG includes a number of features to mitigate this risk. I have occasionally seen image retention after leaving high contrast HDR test patterns up for a while but I saw no evidence of image retention with normal viewing material.
In fact in nearly a year of using a B7 as my day-to-day TV, I have experienced no issues with image retention and screen burn, despite numerous lengthy gaming sessions and my wife's annoying habit of leaving TV programmes on pause whilst she's in the kitchen.
Black Levels and Contrast PerformanceSince the LG C8 is an OLED TV it shouldn't come as a surprise to discover that I measured the black level at zero and the C8 could easily hit our SDR target of 120nits, which equates to an on/off contrast ratio of infinity. The same was true with the ANSI contrast ratio, so the resulting images had an incredible dynamic range and thus a marvellous sense of depth.
As I mentioned previously, an HDR image isn't just about brightness and a dynamic range goes from black to white. So regardless of whether the image is SDR or HDR, it's a TV's ability to display blacks and detail just above black that is vitally important. In fact it might be more important because our eyes are much better at distinguishing details in dark images than they are with bright images. As it happens the C8 was extremely good at resolving detail just above black and I believe that LG have made definite improvements in terms of shadow gradations.
Motion Handling and Video ProcessingIf there's one area where LG TVs have had a tendency to struggle in the past, it's motion handling. This was also the case with the C8, although this is the only area where I could find fault with this otherwise superb OLED TV.
I found that the motion handling with TruMotion off was generally acceptable with 50p content, although scrolling credits did reveal some judder. The C8 was better with 24p content and you should definitely leave TruMotion off when watching movies and TV dramas.
You can eliminate judder on non-movie content using the Smooth setting but that introduces soap opera effect (SOE), so again it's best avoided for TV dramas. However it could be very effective with sports like football, although I generally found the best approach was to use the User setting and adjust De-blur and De-judder to personal taste for sports.
Black Frame Insertion (BFI): New this year is BFI, which you turn on by selecting the Motion Pro option in the User TruMotion control. The inclusion of BFI is something I have been asking LG to add for a while, so I was excited at the prospect of testing this new control. I had a sneak peak of this feature last year, and at the time it showed promise.
So I was curious as to why LG weren't demonstrating BFI at their recent event in Madrid, and having tested it I now see why. Sadly the BFI feature is a bit of bust this year, with poor resolution of motion and far too much flicker. The latter surprised me because I know LG's BFI uses 60Hz, just like Panasonic, which is supposed to reduce potential flicker.
Although you can mitigate the darkening effect of BFI that is caused by the feature literally inserting a black frame between every other frame by simply turning the OLED Light, I wouldn't recommend using it with HDR content because the OLED Light is already at its maximum setting. To be honest I wouldn't use it at all because the flicker was too obvious.
The video processing was very impressive, with the C8 performing exceptionally well in our various tests. The TV had no problems de-interlacing the test scenes on numerous test discs, and its upscaling of lower resolution content to match the 4K panel was particularly impressive. Full HD broadcasts and Blu-rays almost looked like 4K, but what really surprised me was that even standard definition content looked surprisingly watchable on the the 65-inch screen.
De-contouring: This is another new feature this year and it certainly works better than BFI, removing obvious contouring (banding) in source content. In that sense it works in a similar fashion to Sony's Smooth Gradation feature, and helped eliminate the contouring seen in the skies of The Martian or during a fade near the beginning of The Revenant. The only problem is that LG has included this feature in with the MPEG Noise Reduction control.
Why? Well it's quicker and easier to add a new feature, than it is to change the entire menu system. The downside of this approach is that there is slight noise reduction being applied to the de-countouring which robs the image of some fine detail. I fully expect de-contouring to appear as a separate option next year, in the same way that Dynamic Tone Mapping is a separate option this year.
Input LagIn Game mode, the LG C8 delivered the same impressively low input lag measurements as we saw on last year's TVs. So for 1080p and 4K gaming, regardless of whether it was SDR or HDR, the lag was 21ms. It's important that you do use the Game mode because otherwise the lag jumps up to over 50ms.
Power ConsumptionThe LG C8 is very energy efficient considering its size and using a 50% full field pattern I measured its ISF Expert (Dark Room) SDR mode at 88W. The Eco SDR mode that the TV ships in measured 103W, whilst the Cinema HDR mode used 150W.
Sound QualityThe LG C8's new Alpine stand has a distinctive slope at the bottom but this isn't just decorative, it actually serves a practical purpose. The stand's design redirects the sound waves from the downward-firing speakers towards the viewer, thus improving the audio performance.
In fact given the ultra-slim nature of the C8, the sound quality of this TV is surprisingly good. There are two downward-firing speakers and two woofers, resulting in a 2.2-channel sound system that has 10W of amplification going to each driver.
That's plenty of power for a built-in TV speaker system and the addition of the Alpine stand results in the audio being aimed directly at the viewer, resulting in a wide and open front soundstage. The larger screen size means there's decent stereo separation and the mid-range and higher frequencies are well represented. The bass performance isn't bad, but it will never be able to compete with a separate subwoofer.
However, overall I was really impressed with the sound quality of the C8, and it not only handled normal TV programmes well, keeping dialogue clear, but also delivered a more immersive experience with dramas and movies.
The C8 supports Dolby and DTS decoding but, like LG's other high-end models, it also supports Dolby Atmos (either via the Netflix app or over HDMI). Whilst you're never going to get a full Atmos experience from a TV, there's no denying that it does deliver a more immersive experience compared to normal soundtracks.
In terms of other audio features, the C8 has Simultaneous Audio Output, Clear Voice II, One Touch Sound Tuning, Adaptive Sound Control, Audio Upscaling and LG Sound Sync. I streamed music to the C8 via Bluetooth and my home network, and the results were genuinely good, allowing me to happily listen to music using the TV.
I only tested the C8 with the Alpine stand attached, so I should point out that if you wall mount the LG then you obviously won't be benefitting from the stand. That means the speakers will simply be firing downwards, and will naturally affect the audio performance. As a result I suspect a wall-mounted C8 won't sound as good as one that's stand-mounted.
The input lag is only 21ms and the sound quality is surprisingly good
LG C8 Picture Performance
Out of the Box SDR PerformanceVivid Mode: If you should choose to select this mode, and I strongly recommend you don't, then you can expect an image with the OLED Light and Contrast controls maxed out. That means the image is too bright and the whites are clipped, not to mention very blue thanks to a highly inaccurate greyscale.
The Colour Gamut is set to Wide and the Colour control is at 70, making colours massively over-saturated; whilst the Sharpness control is at 30, resulting in ringing and lost detail. Finally the TruMotion feature is set to Smooth, so movies suffer from the SOE.
Eco Mode: This is the mode that the C8 ships in and whilst not as egregious as the Vivid mode, it isn't much better. OLED Light is too high at 80 and whites are clipped thanks to a Contrast setting of 100. There's still way to much blue in the greyscale and the Colour Gamut is set to wide and the Colour control is at 60, so again colours are over-saturated. The Sharpness control is still too high at 25, and although this mode uses the Clear setting for TruMotion, it's still doesn't look right for movies.
The C8 also ships with the Energy Saving feature in Auto, so make sure you turn that off, unless you want your TV's brightness to change every time a cloud passes in front of the sun or someone puts on a light.
Technicolor Expert/ISF Expert (Bright Room)/ISF Expert (Dark Room): Any one of these settings is the best starting point for an accurate image. I'd suggest selecting the Technicolor option if you only plan on using one mode, but if you want day and night settings then the ISF modes are fairly obvious. Whichever one you select, the majority of the settings are correct, especially the Technicolor mode, which turns off all the unnecessary features including TruMotion.
You will however need to adjust the OLED Light because it defaults to 80, which is too high for SDR viewing, even during the day. In the case of the ISF modes, remember to check the TruMotion setting and in ISF Expert (Bright Room) you'll need to switch the Colour Gamut from Wide to Auto. As you can see from the graphs above, these settings will give you an excellent level of accuracy against the industry standards.
Aspect Ratio: The C8 ships with an Aspect Ratio Setting of 16:9 (which is correct) and Just Scan set to Auto (which isn't). In Auto it is still over-scanning and thus not showing the full image and robbing the picture of fine detail; so you'll need to set Just Scan to On, in order to turn over-scanning off.
SDR Gaming Performance: The LG C8 was great when it came to gaming, with all the elements I've discussed so far delivering a hugely enjoyable experience. The image is bright, colourful and detailed, resulting in lovely-looking in-game images. The low input lag also resulted in a responsive gaming experience, making Star Wars Battlefront and Wipeout both fun and graphically impressive.
Out of the Box HDR PerformanceBest Out of the Box Setting: Regardless of whether you're watching HDR10 or Dolby Vision content, the respective Cinema picture mode is your best bet. These are the most accurate modes, with the majority of the controls and features set correctly, although remember to turn off the noise reduction controls and TruMotion. As you can see from the graphs above the HDR10 measurements are very accurate with the minimum of set-up required.
I would definitely recommend turning Dynamic Tone Mapping on, which analyses each scene and adjusts it accordingly, resulting in a more enjoyable HDR experience with fantastic images. This feature essentially mimics the benefits of dynamic metadata, but since Dolby Vision actually does use dynamic metadata, there's no need for it with content encoded in Dolby Vision.
HDR Gaming Performance: All the factors that applied to SDR gaming, apply just as much to HDR gaming whether that's in 1080p or 4K. Obviously the best experience is with 4K HDR games where the increased resolution and wider dynamic range result in some fantastic images. Horizon Zero Dawn looked stunning and the addition of Dynamic Tone Mapping really gave the HDR images additional punch, without adversely affecting the input lag. LG appear to have fixed the issues they had last year with games appearing too dark.
I had a couple of minor issues but overall the picture quality is hard to fault
Calibrated Image Performance
SDRSince the LG C8 has pretty much aced almost all the tests up to this point, it shouldn't come as a massive surprise to discover that it delivers the best SDR image that I've ever seen. It has more than enough brightness for SDR, even with a full field image, whilst the superb contrast performance forms the bedrock of any good picture. The deep blacks of OLED, combined with the improved detailing just above black, result in images that have incredible depth and impact. There's also no issue when it comes to viewing angles, and no matter where you sit the C8's picture will look fantastic.
On top of that, the accuracy of the greyscale, gamma and colour gamut ensure natural looking images that are free from clipping and other unwanted artefacts. The excellent video processing plays its part, deinterlacing where necessary, and brilliantly upscaling lower resolution content. All these factors combined to ensure that whatever TV programme I watched, it looked better than ever before. Even some of the awful standard definition digital TV channels looked better, although the C8 can't perform miracles.
However feed the TV a decent signal, like a quality BBC HD documentary or a Blu-ray, and the results were often breathtaking. As I mentioned earlier, motion handling was this TV's only weak spot, but even then most content still had decent motion and 24p looked great. Watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Blu-ray revealed a gorgeous picture, with deep blacks, bright colourful images and plenty of fine detail.
The C8 handled Gravity extremely well, delivering all the fine detail in the CG animation, whilst also handling the constant shifts in contrast, as we see a bright white space suit juxtaposed against the blackness of space. The images were perfectly defined, with the whites free of clipping and the star fields still clearly visible in the background. The image was so good, it took on an almost three dimensional aspect at times.
As much as LCD TVs have improved in terms of their overall image quality with SDR content, there's no doubt in my mind that OLED remains the king.
HDRAlthough an OLED TV can't get close to the peak brightness of an LCD TV, that doesn't mean it doesn't deliver a great HDR experience. As I've already mentioned HDR isn't just about peak highlights, although even then the OLED has the advantage of delivering specular highlights at a pixel level, thus ensuring greater precision and absolutely none of the blooming seen on LCD TVs.
Unlike an LCD TV, that has to rely on local dimming algorithms to deliver the deep blacks required for HDR, an OLED has greater latitude in the darker parts of the image, thus allowing it to take full advantage of HDR's wider dynamic range at the lower end of the brightness scale. Since our eyes are better at distinguishing differences in dark parts of an image, this is actually more important than the bright parts of the image, where our eyes are quite poor at distinguishing differences.
What does this mean in practice? Well despite any perceived limitations in an OLED's ability to deliver the peak highlights of HDR, the reality is that the images look superb. First of all the greyscale and colour tracking are very accurate, allowing the C8 to take full advantage of the wider colour gamut. In addition, native 4K content can take full advantage of the Ultra HD panel to reveal every tiny detail.
The Revenant was a particularly good example, with incredibly detailed images and colours that looked very natural, whilst night scenes lit only by burning torches were simply a revelation. The bright snow-covered landscape represented a greater challenge to the C8, but this is where Dynamic Tone Mapping came in handy.
I wouldn't normally recommend using a picture feature, most do more damage than good. However Dynamic Tone Mapping is the exception to the rule and it made a clear improvement to the perceived HDR image, without any detrimental impact on image quality.
I checked that it wasn't clipping HDR content using the 'Arriving in Neverland' scene from Pan, and the sun was clearly defined with this feature on. It basically mimics the benefits of dynamic metadata by carefully analysing each scene and adjusting the tone mapping accordingly.
Of course the C8 also supports actual dynamic metadata in the form of Dolby Vision, and with a growing catalogue of content on Netflix, iTunes and 4K Blu-ray, this format is growing in importance. Overall I found the Dolby Vision performance to be excellent, and aside from some raised blacks in the film Mute on Netflix, I had no issues with any of the Dolby Vision content that I watched.
I thought Lost in Space looked incredible in Dolby Vision, whilst the 4K Blu-rays of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Star Wars: The Last Jedi both looked very impressive in terms of resolution, shadow detail, colours and specular highlights.
The difference between LCD and OLED is a lot less clear cut when it comes to HDR, with both technologies having certain advantages. However the LG C8 is certainly very capable in terms of its HDR performance, often delivering images that were simply stunning.
The C8 is quite simply one of the best TVs I've ever reviewed
- Superb picture quality
- Exceptional black levels and contrast
- Reference image accuracy
- Excellent screen uniformity
- Great video processing
- Comprehensive set of features
- Industry-leading smart platform
- Very low input lag
- Surprisingly good sound
- Attractive design and well engineered
- Black frame insertion suffers from flicker
- De-contouring applies noise reduction
- Motion could be better
- HDR peak brightness not as high as some LCD TVs
- No HDR10+ support
LG C8 (OLED65C8PLA) Review
Should I buy one?The LG C8 is quite simply the most complete TV I have ever reviewed. What do I mean by that? Well if you look at a TV as a combination of key elements – design, build quality, connections, smart platform, features, picture quality and sound quality – then the C8 has the lot.
It looks gorgeous and it's well made, and the Alpine stand is not only attractive but also helps improve the sound quality. In fact the C8 is one of the best-sounding TVs that I have reviewed in a while. The WebOS Smart TV platform is simply the best there is, with a fast, responsive and highly intuitive user interface. The Magic Remote is also brilliant and a joy to use, making navigating the smart features child's play.
As far as those features go, the C8 offers a comprehensive set of video streaming services including NOW TV, as well as just about every other feature I can think of, including highly sophisticated auto-calibration options. It supports every version of HDR except HDR10+, but that's no great loss at the moment, and it even supports Dolby Atmos.
Of course that's all window dressing if the picture isn't good. Thankfully the C8 delivers an absolutely superb image in both SDR and HDR. The blacks are deep, the shadow detail is excellent and the video processing is impressive. The panel uniformity is fantastic and the greyscale and colour accuracy delivers reference measurements.
It's hard for me to find fault with the C8, although it obviously can't hit the peak highlights of an LCD TV in HDR. However it can deliver those highlights with greater precision and it performs better in the darker parts of the image. The motion handling could be better, and the BFI and de-contouring need work, but otherwise the C8 is an awesome TV.
If I was buying an OLED TV right now, then the LG C8 would undoubtedly be at the top of my list for all the reasons that I have just mentioned. And as I decided in my review of Samsung's Q9FN, there are two very different TV technologies available and thus the option of two different reference points.
By reference point I mean a TV against which I compare other TVs, rather than something that is perfect – because obviously no consumer product is perfect. For that reason the C8 is my OLED reference point for 2018, and thus thoroughly deserving of a Reference Status badge.
What are my alternatives?If you're on a budget, then last year's LG B7 and C7 are still excellent OLED TVs and the 65-inch versions can be picked up new for just £2,499.
If you don't want to buy an LG model, there's also the Philips 9002, which doesn't support Dolby Vision but does have HDR10+ and Ambilight. That's only available in 55 inches at the moment but a 65-inch version is on the way.
Sony's new AF8 is sure to prove popular, especially at a price of £3,299. However I struggle with Sony's implementation of Android TV and their roll out of Dolby Vision has been a disaster. Those reasons alone would be enough to put me off buying a Sony OLED at the moment.
They aren't in the shops yet but the Panasonic FZ802 should also be competitively priced, and although its smart platform is rather simplistic, at least it works. I would expect Panasonic to deliver a superb level of image accuracy but, although the FZ802 will support HDR10+, it doesn't support Dolby Vision, which seems more important at the moment.
Finally if you're more interested in an LCD TV, then Samsung's superb Q9FN is the obvious option. You can pick up the 65-inch version for £3,799 and it will deliver the best blacks you've ever seen from an LCD TV. It's also incredible with HDR and a great choice for gamers, providing loads of useful features.
MORE: Read All TV Reviews
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £4,499.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level10
SDR Picture Quality10
HDR Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box9
Picture Quality Calibrated10
Ease of Use10
Value for Money8
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