What is the LG C1?
The LG C1, like previous C models, is the sweet spot in the 2021 OLED TV range from LG and offers a few small upgrades over last year’s CX. It is available in screen sizes ranging from 48-inch (OLED48C16LA), 55-inch (OLED55C16LA), 65-inch (OLED65C16LA), 77-inch (OLED77C16LA) and a whopping 83-inch (OLED83C14LA) and we are reviewing the 65-inch version.
The design of the C1 hasn’t changed much at all from previous generations and has the same stand designs and chassis layout, but this year there are slight colour changes. The stand on our review model was a silver finish with a white rear to the panel that LG calls Vanilla. If you want a dark coloured rear then it is called Meteor Titan. A new remote control was also introduced this year along with new menu designs and a new look WebOS 6.0 smart system which you will either love or hate, more on that later.
The C1 supports most of the HDR formats including HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), Dolby Vision and Dolby Vision IQ and the excellent Filmmaker Mode that matches industry standards for content mastering. There is no HDR10+ support, but we don’t see an issue with that, given the small amount of content that uses the format.
LG has partnered with NVIDIA and AMD to make LG OLED TVs the only G-SYNC and AMD FreeSync™ Premium certified TVs available to date. There is also a new Game Optimiser set up menu and there are four HDMI 2.1 (40 Gbps) inputs with support for 4K/120, HFR (High Frame Rate), VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and eARC. We also have HGiG (HDR Gaming Interest Group) settings available for HDR gaming.
So is the C1 a major upgrade to the CX? Or even competition to the G1? Let’s find out.
Design, Connections and Control
The design of the LG C1 chassis is identical to the last few years of C models, with a very thin panel to the top and a rear that gets bigger two-thirds of the way down, to house the connections, electronics and speakers. The rear panel surface is a striped white material with the larger area also sporting a white finish along with the rear of the stand.
The screen itself is almost entirely bezel-less with just a 1mm thin black metal edge running all the way around the panel and no signs of any logos. The stand is a very heavy block of plastic and metal that sits to the rear of the panel with a silver-coloured front edge that sits under the panel to the front. This sloped edge has the LG OLED logo on the right side and also focuses the audio from the downward-firing speakers to the listening position.
The connections are around the back and are sideways and backwards facing and positioned to the left side of the panel when looking from the front. The sideways line-up features a CI slot, three HDMI ports and a USB. Rearwards is another HDMI, two USB slots, an RF and satellite antenna, a headphone and audio output, digital audio out and a LAN port.
I really like the new Magic Remote design with its longer body, sleeker frame and... new direct access keys for streaming services such as Disney+.
There is also built-in Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth and dual-band Wi-Fi. All four HDMI ports are HDMI 2.1 (40Gbps) accepting 10bit 4K/120 4:4:4 signals and compatible with Dolby Vision, HLG and HDR10. HDMI 2 is eARC/ARC compatible.
I really like the new Magic Remote design with its longer body, sleeker frame and notch at the rear so it sits in the hand easier. All the buttons you need are positioned within a thumb's reach when held in one hand with new direct access keys for streaming services such as Disney+. Overall, the remote sits neatly in the hand and is intuitive to use with the fantastic magic pointer still available onscreen.
Out of the Box
As we do with all reviews we factory reset the LG C1 and then measured the picture presets to find which is the most accurate to the industry standards, out of the box, so we can view content as it was mastered and intended to be seen. Like all recent LG OLED TVs, the best preset for this is Filmmaker Mode (FMM) which switches off all unwanted processing with accurate colour and white balance retained. ISF bright and dark modes are also accurate for colour and white balance, but they do have picture processing switched on as a default, so you would need to switch these off manually. Filmmaker Mode is a one-button press solution that is free from any tampering from processing. It has no motion interpolation switched on and hits gamma BT.1886, D65 white and Rec.709 colour for SDR and BT.2020 colour and ST.2084 PQ EOTF for HDR. On the C1 the out of the box OLED Pixel Brightness in FMM is set to 25 which equals 100 nits for dark room viewing, however, you can adjust the brightness to match your room conditions.
Once again Filmmaker Mode (FMM) proves to be extremely accurate out of the box with a greyscale result that is only a shade away from being perfect. There is a slight rise in red energy towards white and we have a darkening of the gamma at 90% stimulus, but everything else looks very good. Our DeltaE errors are all under the visible threshold of three which means that although we can see these slight errors on the graph, with actual viewing of TV and film content onscreen, they are invisible to the eye.
Moving to the Rec.709 colour gamut results and we can see that they are also very good out of the box in FMM. There are a few errors here, with red oversaturated slightly and magenta has a hue error towards red. Other points are there or thereabouts and, for an out of the box preset, the results are very good. With every TV out of the box there will be some slight differences due to panel and component variance but FMM has proven to be the most accurate and consistent preset we have seen in TVs to date.
As with all LG TVs, there is a full suite of calibration controls as well as the Calman AutoCal system which can speed up the process and dial in excellent accuracy. Any calibration does require the right meters, software and experience but the beauty of AutoCal is that it can simplify the process for those end users who want to give it a go. For this review, we used the manual controls to dial in our calibration.
As we can see with the grayscale results we managed to obtain absolute reference level results with a flat greyscale and gamma tracking and DeltaE errors of 0.1 and below. There are no visible errors seen at all and we couldn’t get better results than what we managed here.
The Rec.709 results took a little bit more care to balance out the errors we had without using too much processing power within the corrections. If you push the Colour Management System on any LG too hard, you can get lovely looking graphs, but major posterisation errors and artefacts with actual viewing material onscreen. So some care is required when making adjustments. However, we did manage to get a very accurate looking gamut result with most points at 75% and below where they should be and DeltaE errors well under three, which means there are no visible errors seen.
In previous years, the C and G models have produced the same image quality but employed different cosmetic design elements to separate them in the LG lineup. This year LG is claiming that the G1 will have better image quality over the C1 when it comes to HDR content due to the use of a new panel they call OLED Evo. They claim better colour performance and more brightness for HDR content, especially full white screen brightness with a relaxed ABL (Automatic Brightness Limiter) in the G1 when compared to the C1. So, having recently reviewed the G1, we set about taking the usual peak brightness vs. window size measurements we always do within our reviews to see just what the differences are.
Starting with the most accurate HDR Filmmaker Mode we measured 688 nits at the industry-standard 10% window and 139 nits at 100%. Looking at the G1 it measured 687 nits on an industry-standard 10% window and full-screen brightness of 152 nits in our review. However, this measurement was before the firmware update to bring FMM in line with the HDR Cinema Mode for brightness, so we’ll discount that one here. With that, the HDR Cinema Mode should be more comparable between the two models we tested and here the C1 measured 10% at 690 nits and 100% at 139 nits with the G1 putting in 10% at 741 nits and 100% at 152 nits. Given such small differences, our eyes would simply never be able to see these changes in brightness, so in that respect, they are almost identical for perceived brightness. We will be doing a full comparison between the C1 and G1 soon.
As well as peak brightness, another important part of an HDR image is the PQ EOTF tracking to ST.2084 and the tone mapping employed. Looking at the PQ EOTF we can see that it follows the standard correctly with the right brightness before it rolls off and hard clips at the peak brightness in FMM of 688 nits. It employs the same tone mapping and tracking for 1000 and 4000 nits content.
The DCI-P3 colour gamut saturation tracking within BT.2020 is also very good on the LG C1 with just a smidge of oversaturation with red, but all other points are there or thereabouts within our results. It doesn’t quite cover the full gamut size but it is close and there are no obvious colour issues when viewing TV and film content onscreen.
We measured BT.2020 at 73% XY and 80% UV with P3 coming in at 96% XY and 99% UV.
We are reviewing the 65-inch version of the LG C1, but the general performance should be the same for the other screen sizes.
The C1 is, of course, a direct replacement for the outgoing CX model and it shares the same design and chassis layout, as well as the stand. In terms of features, both models are incredibly similar with the same major features of HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision with IQ present and correct, but the remote control and WebOS smart TV system have been updated on the C1 along with Freeview Play featuring in full this year.
The C1 doesn’t feature the OLED Evo panel marketing that the G1 does and as such LG claims it is not as bright with HDR and doesn’t feature the slightly wider colour gamut capabilities. Internet rumours have suggested that the C1 does in fact have the same panel as the G1 but it is downgraded via the software in the processor.
We put these questions to LG directly and their replies are as follows.
Q1. What makes the G1 an EVO TV and not the C1?
LG: “LG OLED evo is a combination of a new panel and optimised processing, available exclusively in G1-series. No matter what panel is used in the C1, each TV uses processing to deliver a similar performance across the series. It is important to note that all OLED TVs of the same series are tuned to deliver the same qualities and picture characteristics, regardless of the parts they may use.
Q2. Is the panel and processor the same as the G1?
LG: “The G1 OLED display was designed to be used with a new panel and optimised processing within the Alpha 9 Gen 4 Processor. The C1 was designed around a different panel but is capable of using panels from multiple LGD display factories. The C1 also uses an Alpha 9 Gen 4 processor but it optimises its signal to the panel differently to insure consistent C1 performance across the line.
Q3. Does the panel used by the C1 have the same new compounds and materials that the G1 has for better colour and brightness?
LG: “The C1 OLED is tuned to make sure that every model in the series has the same optical characteristics to the human eye, no matter what parts are included in them.
Q4. If the panel and processor are the same what are the actual differences that make the G1 an EVO?
LG: “While the Alpha 9 Gen 4 processors are the same, the optimisation processes necessary to send the signal to the panel differ.”
So, that is the official word direct from LG as to how it sees the model differences and why they are marketed as different for performance and cosmetics. As you can see from our measurements, there are minor differences in performance, but they are small and probably not noticeable in isolation. We will be testing the models side by side soon.
The just above black performance and floating blacks were an issue in Dolby Vision and HDR10 on the CX last year, but I can report no issues at all with the C1
I might sound like a broken record but Filmmaker Mode (FMM) has proven to be an excellent addition to many TVs over the last 12 months and yet again it does what it sets out to do with the C1 out of the box. By selecting FMM, you get Rec.709 colour, D65 white and BT1886 gamma modes for SDR with all unnecessary processing, motion smoothing and noise reduction settings switched off as well as the correct aspect ratio being applied. With HDR content it once again sets the colour correct to BT.2020, D65 white point and the PQ EOTF tracking ST.2084 for HDR10. All unnecessary image processing is also switched off in FMM meaning you see the content as it was mastered and intended to be seen. You can of course use Cinema, ISF Bright and ISF Dark presets which are also set to track the standards correctly, but these presets do have image processing switched on at default, so you will need to go through and switch them off.
Dolby Vision is also present with a number of presets to choose from with Cinema being the most accurate to the industry standards. Cinema Home is the Dolby Vision IQ setting and uses the built-in light sensor to adjust the image depending on the lighting conditions in your room. The purpose of this is to match the content to the room conditions so you can see exactly what the creator intended without detail being crushed or clipped due to the room lighting. It does this by also applying the dynamic metadata to make sure colours remain accurate, but the image is slightly brighter for those watching in bright rooms. The Cinema Home preset does have a lot of image processing switched on which you can easily switch off, unlike last year when it was greyed out. The only remaining issue this year is that TruMotion is greyed out with Cinematic Movement enabled. If you want to change this you need to go to the general menu system and enter the AI Service menu. In here, you need to switch off the AI Genre selection. Then, once you get back to the clarity menu, the TruMotion selection is now no longer greyed out and you can switch it off. As Dolby keep telling us that it wants to respect the creator's intent, we find it odd that it insists on applying image processing and interpolation out of the box in the IQ mode (it is respected in the Dolby Vision Cinema mode with everything switched off like FMM). There is no support for HDR10+ on the LG C1, but given the continued lack of support for that standard, it is not going to be missed by many users.
Panel uniformity was very good indeed on our review sample with a clean look at various brightness levels and no major issues such as dirty screen effect, vignetting or banding. There is a very slight colour shift to cyan at the edges of the screen when viewed from an extremely wide-angle but, when straight on with the TV, I didn’t see any obvious issues with tint. With just above black 5%, we had a slightly brighter left side and a darker right with some lightly visible bands seen on the test patterns towards the centre. However, none of these issues was visible with normal TV and film viewing, even in a dark room and with dark scenes.
Another new update this year on the LG C1 is WebOS 6.0 which sees a big change in how the Smart TV system operates
Moving to the video processing of the α9 Gen4 AI-enhanced processor, we found the upscaling was excellent with no issues seen at all from 576i, 1080i and 1080p content scaled to the panel resolution. Lines were straight and clean with no edge enhancement or ringing and there were no artefacts present. The LG produces clean and crisp upscaled images, but at the same time it can’t solve issues with really poor SD channels, but why would you have a 4K TV if you still watch channels like that?
The motion performance was also excellent and with 24fps material we get very good 5:5 pulldown with TruMotion switched off along with no induced judder. Motion blur that is present in the content is also displayed correctly, giving images a nice cinematic feel. You can also use the 120Hz Black Frame Insertion (BFI) which has four settings: Low which applies a 70% duty cycle; Medium which applies 50%; High which applies 50% plus black frame insertion; and Auto which automatically applies an optimised duty cycle based on real-time content analysis. I found that Low and Medium worked the best without any noticeable flicker, but I also noted that there was also no apparent improvement in motion resolution. Using BFI will affect your image brightness, so you should avoid using it with HDR10 content as you will lose around 100 nits of peak brightness.
There is a new motion setting in the TruMotion menu called Cinematic Movement, which replaces Cinema Clear from last year. The purpose of this setting is to add interpolation smoothing in such a way that there is no obvious Soap Opera Effect (SOE), for those who don’t like or see 24fps judder. It aims to create a judder-free image by prioritising as many real frames as possible and blending these with created frames to improve the motion smoothness. I am susceptible to seeing interpolation at any strength, so it is not a setting I could live with day-to-day, but many users will like the smoothing without SOE or motion looking overly processed. With TruMotion switched off I also didn’t notice any frame skipping issues present with 50Hz broadcast material, even those programmes with fast-moving cuts looked smooth with no obvious issues. With the other settings which use more smoothing and SOE, there are obvious artefacts when motion gets fast, with edges breaking up or trailing behind fast-moving objects.
The just above black performance and floating blacks were an issue in Dolby Vision and HDR10 on the CX last year, but I can report no issues at all with the C1. Even the torture test clip from Stranger Things with Eleven in the Upside-Down was displayed with no flashing or floating blacks. We also didn’t notice any issues with low-level black dithering when watching from our usual viewing distances, with a fade to and from blacks looking superb with no signs of gradational breakups.
Skin tones looked natural and scenes had an added depth thanks to nicely detailed shadows, mid-tones and peak highlights
The C1 was a superb performer with SDR, HDR and Dolby Vision content, with the kind of picture quality you would expect. It looked identical to the G1 and the GX from last year, for the majority of my viewing tests. Compared to the GX from memory and having lived with that set for a long time, the improvements on the C1 are for the just above black flashing and better, more controlled shadow detailing in dark scenes and with fades to black. In all other aspects, our measurements were almost identical between the two with superb accuracy and black levels. If you have a CX there is no real advantage to updating to the C1 as things stand, both are excellent performers. When compared to the G1, I also think both perform identically in most respects, with perhaps just a smidge more HDR peak brightness detail visible from isolated testing of both screens. I will be doing side-by-side testing so look out for that review and video. But apart from some perceived slight differences, they are very close in terms of picture quality. The main differences are in the design, chassis and board layouts between the C1 and G1.
For TV and movies, the LG C1 is a superb performer with excellent black levels, superb shadow details and natural and lifelike colours. Image accuracy out of the box in Filmmaker Mode (FMM) is also top drawer and allows viewers to see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen. Motion is also excellent with TruMotion on or off and we had no major issues to report at all with the C1. With HDR and Dolby Vision content the performance was again superb with excellent motion, colours and brightness. Peak highlights were detailed with most content and the tone mapping followed the standards well, with no unnecessary clipping or black crush. Skin tones looked natural and scenes had an added depth thanks to nicely detailed shadows, mid-tones and peak highlights. Dolby Vision was also excellent with no raised blacks or issues with brightness and colour accuracy when using Cinema or Cinema Home IQ modes.
Just like the G1 we reviewed recently, the C1 is a superb gaming TV for those who want incredible contrast and dynamic range mixed with very good HDR. The C1 comes loaded 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 Optimiser mode. Plus there is support for G-Sync validated by NVIDIA and on top of that, there is support for AMD’s FreeSync VRR. There are also new Game Optimiser settings and the menus allow direct access to the best settings for your gaming experience giving you choices for Game Genre, Black Stabiliser, White Stabiliser, Fine Tune Dark Area, VRR & G-Sync as well as settings to reduce input lag further using the Prevent Input Delay setting. I measured the input lag at 12.5ms in 4K/60 and 9.5ms using the Prevent Input Delay setting (make sure you have Just Scan on in the aspect ratio menu).
Another new update this year on the LG C1 is WebOS 6.0 which sees a big change in how the Smart TV system operates. Gone is the launcher bar at the bottom of the screen, replaced with a full-screen smart TV menu system which obviously fills the entire viewable image area. This new layout has stacks of boxes with three large, top blocks, which are pretty useless at this moment in time with no appreciable use case. I think they’ll eventually turn into banner ads. Below is a horizontal list of Trending Now features, there’s a horizontal app list where you can highlight and choose to launch an app from a large choice from Apple TV+, Disney+, NOW, Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and more. The next layer of tiles is the Home Dashboard with connections you have access to, including AirPlay and then there are a series of further layers highlighting available content in other applications.
... the C1 is a superb gaming TV for those who want incredible contrast and dynamic range mixed with very good HDR
The menu system has been updated with a new design and layout which will take some getting used to for those familiar with LG TVs. it’s still intuitive to use, but certain picture controls now live under new submenus which can be confusing at first, but it works well with the magic remote pointer.
- Superb Out of the Box accuracy in Filmmaker Mode
- Reference level calibration results
- Superb HDR accuracy
- Dolby Vision IQ
- Dolby Atmos
- Excellent just above black performance and fade to and from black
- Excellent gaming performance and features
- Very low input lag
- Very good motion
- WebOS 6.0
- New remote
- Good build quality
- Excellent value for money
- No HDR10+
- No DTS support
LG C1 (OLED65C1) 4K OLED TV Review
If you already have a C9 or CX model then the C1 is not an upgrade path for you, unless you are desperate for the new menus and Smart TV layout. The performance is incrementally improved with better just above black performance without flashing or floating blacks, but all other measurable attributes remain very similar. Compared to the G1 in isolation there are also slight improvements in the G1’s favour, but again, this is very small and the main differences remain in the cosmetic design, chassis layout and board for the flat-backed G1, rather than massive picture quality gains. We also intend to do a direct C1 and G1 test very soon.
We continue to be impressed with the features on offer with all the major HDR formats covered (minus HDR10+) and Dolby Vision IQ returns for this year with slightly improved menu controls to allow better adjustments. The just above black is now excellent with solid fade to and from black performance and the C1 remains an excellent performer. Filmmaker Mode is superbly accurate out of the box with real benefits for end-users looking for picture quality that matches how content was mastered and intended to be seen, in SDR and HDR.
As a gaming TV, the C1 also has all the bases covered to be a complete all-rounder for film, TV and gaming with four HDMI 2.1 ports and features which include VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and an HGiG (HDR Gaming Interest Group) setting. There is also G-Sync and AMD support which makes the C1 one of the most advanced gaming sets of 2021.
Plus, we have a new WebOS smart TV system with Freeview Play returning for 2021 with all the terrestrial catch-up services available out of the box. The menu system has also had a nice refresh to make it look more modern and the remote is also new and improved, retaining the superb magic remote pointer onscreen.
It might not be a massive upgrade over last year’s CX, or even the C9, but as an overall package the C1 is a very accomplished OLED TV that will fulfil the needs of many different users looking for the best movie, TV show and gaming experience in a package that includes almost every streaming service and apps at your disposal, and superb, accurate image quality. The price is also very reasonable and means the LG C1 wins our Best Buy award.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
SDR Picture Quality
HDR Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease of Use
Value for Money
The games console used in this review was kindly supplied by our gaming partner Smyths Toys Gaming, the No.1 choice for next-gen Gaming