LG 48-inch CX (OLED48CX) TV Review

Small, yet mighty...

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £1,500.00

What is the LG CX?

The LG CX (C10) is the mid range sweet spot in the LG OLED TV range for 2020. We have already reviewed the 65-inch (OLED65CX) and 55-inch (OLED55CX) version of this TV and the 48-inch we have here is the first time an OLED TV has been available in such a small screen size. 

In this review, we will concentrate more on the performance aspects to check they are similar to the 65- and 55-inch versions, or if the 48-inch has any difference in performance. If you want a full-on in-depth review then you should refer to the 65-inch version where we cover all the features available at every screen size.

Related: LG 65-inch CX Review

The current pricing for the LG CX makes it even more competitive this year with the 48-inch listed at £1,499.99, the 55-inch is £1,799.99, the 65-inch is £2,799.99, and the 77-inch is £4999.99 at the time of this review in October 2020. 

So who is the 48-inch CX aimed at and can it offer the exact same performance as its bigger stable mates? Is it the ultimate gaming TV or just a high-performance OLED for the smaller living room? Let’s find out.

Related: LG 55-inch CX Review

Video Review

Design, Connections and Control

The LG CX has a similar style of design as the previous C8 and C9 versions, with the sloped stand to the front and a near bezel-less design to the panel. The stand also supports the downward-firing speaker system by directing the sound out to the front of the set. There are slightly different versions of the CX with different colours of stands available. All of them have the same performance capabilities. The thin design and stand work just as well on the 48-inch version as they do on the 65-inch, although they are much lighter in weight.

As always the connections are around the back and feature sideways and rearward inputs, with a hardwired power cord to the opposite side of the back panel. 

 

The thin design and stand work just as well on the 48-inch version as they do on the 65-inch

To the side are a CI slot and three HDMI 2.1 (40Gbps) inputs and a USB 3.0 port. Rearwards we have two USB 2.0 and a further HDMI 2.1 slot, plus antenna and satellite ports, a LAN port, optical digital output and audio/headphone output. All of the HDMI 2.1 inputs are 40Gbps instead of the 48Gbps examples seen on the C9 from last year, but this should not affect performance with HDMI 2.1 sources in any way. 

Related: What is HDMI 2.1?

The supplied remote control is the LG magic remote, which is plastic in construction with the main OK and direction keys towards the centre and within easy thumb reach. This has been a common design for a number of years in LG sets and we really like the magic cursor approach which makes interaction intuitive and easy. 

Measurements

Out of the Box

As normal within our reviews, we measured the out of the box picture presets to find those that get as close as possible to the industry standards. The idea is that a TV must get close to these standards in at least one of its picture modes so end users can see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen. On the LG 48CX that picture preset is Filmmaker Mode (FMM).

We use Calman colour calibration software, a Murideo Seven Generator and Klein K-10A meter for measurement and calibration.

LG OLED48CX
FMM Out of the Box Greyscale

Filmmaker Mode is accurate for an out of the box preset and the greyscale tracking is decent. The tracking is not completely flat with a slight dip in red and a very slight excess of green at around 2%. The DeltaE errors are at three and below. This means that there is no visible colour tint error in TV and Film content we watched on the CX. Gamma also tracks well to the BT.1886 standard.

LG OLED48CX
FMM Rec.709 colour gamut

Looking at the Rec.709 HD colour gamut we can see that once again the Filmmaker Mode is accurate. With just a slight undersaturation of red, all the other points within the saturation tracking chart are where they should be. This means that, out of the box, this 48-inch CX sample is accurate  to the industry standards, meaning you can watch content as it should be seen.

Calibrated

There is a good assortment of calibration controls on the 48-inch LG CX along with Calman AutoCal if you have the correct equipment or you hire a professional calibrator.  

LG OLED48CX
Calibrated Greyscale

We managed to achieve complete reference accuracy with the greyscale and gamma tracking with DeltaE errors at a maximum of 0.5, which is well below the visible threshold of three. We already had good accuracy out of the box with FMM but, with calibration, we can dial in absolute reference results.

LG OLED48CX
Calibrated Rec.709 Colour Gamut

The Rec.709 HD colour gamut is also perfect with DeltaE errors at a maximum of 0.8 which is obviously well below the threshold of three. This means there are no errors visible in colour when viewing TV and Film content. 

HDR Results

The LG 48CX has HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR capabilities. As we always do within our reviews, we measured peak brightness across window sizes in the most accurate image preset (Filmmaker Mode) and D65 white.

LG OLED48CX
Peak Brightness

There will be some small variances between panels when it comes to peak brightness measurements and as we always point out, these figures are just one part of what makes an HDR image. We measured a peak of 625 nits at 2%, 5% and the industry-standard 10% window size. Full-field white was 118 nits. 

LG OLED48CX
1000 nits PQ EOTF

The PQ EOTF has two slightly different tone maps for tracking 1000 and 4000 nits mastered content. With 1000 nit content it follows the standard perfectly until a roll-off and hard clip at 700 nits. 

LG OLED48CX
4000 nits PQ EOTF

With 4000 nits content the tracking is accurate to around 250 nits and then it rolls off gently towards the peak of 700 nits, Which allows more specular highlight details to be retained in the brightest parts of the image.

LG OLED48CX
DCI-P3 within BT.2020 Colour Gamut

The DCI-P3 within BT.2020 colour gamut saturation tracking is also very good.  Most of the points are close to where they should be without any major errors. This should help with an accurate colour performance for UHD wide colour gamut (WCG) coverage and at decent saturation values. As with all OLED TVs, the 48CX colour volume is a weak point. Overall, the performance with WCG is very good here, but it does fall short of complete gamut coverage. 

LG OLED48CX
BT.2020 coverage

We measured BT.2020 coverage at 70% XY and 75% UV with P3 measuring in at 96% XY and 98% UV.

LG OLED48CX
P3 coverage

Performance

For the full in-depth testing, you should head over to our LG OLED65CX review where we go into more detail. Here we will look at the main performance areas to check that it is in line with the two CX OLEDs we have already reviewed and covered.

Related: LG 65-inch CX Review

Replacing the Technicolor image preset this year is Filmmaker Mode (FMM) which is excellent out of the box for SDR and HDR playback to the industry standard. If you are a movie fan you will really appreciate the image accuracy, especially in dark room viewing. FMM is a one button solution that gets the image accuracy and also switches off all unwanted image manipulation features and image smoothing. This allows you to watch film and TV content as it was meant to be seen, and who wouldn’t want that?

Related: What is Filmmaker Mode?

Another new feature for 2020 on the LG 48CX is Dolby Vision IQ. This feature retains the original metadata that the content was mastered at, but using the light sensor in the TV it can raise the image brightness while keeping colours and greyscale accurate. This allows users to watch Dolby Vision content in brighter living rooms with more ambient lighting, yet retain as much of the creator’s intent as possible. Sadly, Dolby has insisted on adding image interpolation and noise reduction as default. The Trumotion menu will be greyed out and will not allow you to switch it off. You need to enter the AI Service menu and switch off Genre, then go back to DV IQ and you should now be able to change those items that were greyed out previously, such as TruMotion. We would like DV IQ to be like Filmmaker Mode and have all processing disabled as default, so it fully respects the creators' intent.

Related: What is Dolby Vision IQ?

Panel uniformity was decent at most brightness points with no obvious signs of colour shift, dirty screen effect or banding. Just like with the other two CX models we have reviewed, we found a panel uniformity at 5% to be very clean with only a few small visible bands towards the centre of the panel, but these were never visible when viewing normal film and TV content. The panel was also clean at all other brightness levels up to 100%, which is excellent. 

TruMotion has been updated for 2020 with Black Frame Insertion (BFI) and is now usable in various settings without introducing obvious flickering. We didn’t witness any image resolution improvements, however, Min and Mid are the best settings for no obvious flicker with content.

If you decide to use BFI Min or Mid you should be aware that image brightness is lowered and some light interpolation was being added, even with Blur and Judder set to off within the Motion Pro menu. BFI is not recommended for use with HDR due to the brightness drop. 

 

Overall, the 48CX is yet another superb OLED TV for gaming, sports and movie fans with excellent accurate images in SDR and HDR

Also new for 2020 on the LG CX is Cinema Clear which claims improved motion and resolution but without the side effects of motion interpolation and Soap Opera Effect (SOE).

I was able to notice that interpolation is still present when using Cinema Clear, but your mileage may vary as everyone sees motion slightly differently. 

The α9 Gen3 AI-enhanced processor is present on the new 2020 CX models and the video processing performance is excellent. When fed 576i and 1080i/p content the CX upscales with no obvious edge enhancement, edge ringing or jaggies to fine lines with excellent detail retrieval. We also found that Motion with 24fps material was also very good indeed with no induced judder or frame skipping when TruMotion is switched off.

Related: What is HDMI 2.1?

The HDMI inputs on the 48CX are HDMI 2.1 but at 40Gbps instead of 48Gbps as seen within tests using our new Murideo Seven Generator. We also found that there is no support for DTS audio decoding onboard this year.

Just like the larger screen sizes, the LG 48 CX is well featured for future gaming with VRR (variable refresh rate), ALLM (auto low latency mode) and an HGiG (HDR Gaming Interest Group) setting under the Dynamic Tone Mapping sub-menu in the Game mode. The 48CX is also one of the first to be G-Sync validated by NVIDIA. We measured the input lag using our Murideo Seven Generator in 1080/2160p 60Hz at 13ms (inc HDR) and at 1080/120 (inc HDR) at 6ms which is identical to the 55- and 65-inch models. 

 

Sound quality is also decent from the smaller chassis

This 48-inch version of the CX will appeal to gamers due to the size allowing it to be placed on desktops and other smaller rooms, ideal for long gaming sessions close to the screen. There is no doubt that the gaming picture quality is excellent with very good HDR performance. Console gaming should be an excellent experience for most with the LG. With use for PC gaming we would obviously point out that the CX is an OLED which is susceptible to image retention in some circumstances. As a PC tends to have more room for static images to be onscreen for long periods of time, and if used in bright picture settings, you may see image retention. You should take care with any static images and bright picture settings.  However, with all possible uses of the LG, if you use the mitigation technology built-in to the TV such as the standby cycles by switching off the TV but leaving it in standby mode, you should have no issues with image retention.

With SDR and HDR movie watching in both dark and well-lit environments, the LG 48CX is a superb movie watching TV. Films look suitably cinematic with excellent dynamic range thanks to the per pixel technology. Blacks, as you would expect are deep and inky, but shadow detail is also present and correct, so the image has a nice depth. When compared with the Panasonic HZ1000 we did find that whites looked cyan on the LG in comparison, but this is only really noticeable side-by-side. If you want the ultimate in cinematic images on an OLED then the more expensive Panasonic models this year have that nailed with better just above black performance and no flashing blacks. But they don’t come in a 48-inch screen size.

 

It is unfortunate that Freeview Play and LG couldn’t reach agreement to have the catch up services available this year

With HDR content we just can’t fault the balanced image produced by the LG CX which has incredible dynamic range thanks to being able to have a full black pixel right next to a full white one. As such the image has incredible punch with whites looking crisp and detailed. It may not be able to reach the peak brightness or colour volume of LCD sets, but the just above black and per pixel dynamics can make up for that. Old favourites like the opening of John Wick: Chapter 3 looks incredibly with deep blacks, sumptuous shadow detail and realistic colour reproduction that ends up as an image full of detail and depth. Motion is also very good with 24fps content with no obvious issues present.   

Sound quality is also decent from the smaller chassis, with sound projected forwards from the downwards firing speakers and creating a wide enough soundfield for use in most normal sized living rooms. There is a lack of bass as you would expect, but for everyday TV watching the sound quality is above average.

 

... LG has managed to introduce the same picture performance, in a smaller package.

Rounding off the performance is the WebOS system and it is still one of the very best on the market. It is unfortunate that Freeview Play and LG couldn’t reach agreement to have the catch up services available this year, but at the time of writing this review in October, BBC iPlayer is now available and hopefully that will also include the other terrestrial apps in the near future, but there is no confirmation of that just yet.

Overall, the 48CX is yet another superb OLED TV for gaming, sports and movie fans with excellent accurate images in SDR and HDR. It has the exact same image performance as the larger screens in the range, so if you are looking for a smaller OLED to fit within a smaller living room, or you want an oversized gaming monitor, you should consider the 48CX.

Verdict

The Good

  • Very good image accuracy out of the box
  • Excellent Filmmaker Mode
  • Dolby Vision IQ
  • Superb calibrated accuracy
  • CalMAN AutoCal
  • Excellent HDR images
  • Dolby Atmos
  • HDMI 2.1 inputs (40Gbps)
  • 4K/120 support
  • The gaming performance and input lag
  • Excellent build quality
  • New screen size

The Bad

  • No Freeview Play and most catch-up apps
  • No DTS audio decoding or HDR10+ compatibility
  • Some small issues with floating blacks and flashing with some content

LG 48-inch CX (OLED48CX) TV Review

While being the new model for 2020, the larger sized CX’s don’t make any massive strides ahead in terms of design or performance. However, the introduction of the 48-inch screen size for the first time is a big milestone in the technology's development and LG has managed to introduce the same picture performance, in a smaller package.

Plus, we get all the same features as the 55 and 65-inch versions we have reviewed. These include the new α9 Gen 3 AI processor, Filmmaker Mode and Dolby Vision IQ. There’s also a host of new gaming features, HDMI 2.1 inputs (40Gbps), and improved CalMAN auto-calibration. The gaming features of the 48-inch model are what is likely to appeal to a wider audience than those looking for a TV to fit a given space requirement and the LG is the most advanced gaming TV in respect of the connections and features. It has HDMI 2.1 (40Gbps) ports, VRR (variable refresh rate), ALLM (auto low latency mode) and a HGiG (HDR Gaming Interest Group) setting along with Freesync and G-Sync.

The webOS smart platform now includes Disney+ and Apple TV+ and for non-UK territories, it offers excellent app support. In the UK we are still waiting for the terrestrial apps being added as there is no Freeview Play for 2020. BBC iPlayer is the only terrestrial app available on WebOS at the time of this review in October, so we hope all the others follow suit quickly.

As a movie watching TV, the LG 48CX offers the same excellent image dynamics, blacks, shadow details and colour accuracy as the larger screen sizes in the CX range. SDR and HDR playback is superb with just a few niggles we have already mentioned, not really getting in the way of an excellent TV.

The 48-inch CX offers the same picture and features as its bigger brothers and also offers for the first time a screen size that will suit smaller rooms and gamers and as such it grabs a Highly Recommended badge.

Related: Read more TV reviews

Highly Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

10

Screen Uniformity

.
9

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Greyscale Accuracy

10

Video Processing

.
9

Picture Quality

.
9

SDR Picture Quality

.
9

HDR Picture Quality

.
9

Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box

.
9

Picture Quality Calibrated

10

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Smart Features

.
9

Build Quality

.
9

Ease of Use

.
9

Value for Money

.
9

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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