What is the LG OLED77C9?
The LG OLED77C9 OLED TV is the big screen version of the company’s primary 4K model. The C9 not only includes the more powerful Alpha 9 Gen 2 processor that’s missing on the cheaper B9, but cosmetics and sound aside, it also includes all the same high-end features found further up the range.
That means you get one of the most feature-packed TVs money can buy, with HDMI 2.1 connections, HDR10, hybrid log-gamma (HLG), Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, CalMAN AutoCal, webOS and ThinQ AI with built-in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. In fact, about the only feature missing is HDR10+, although LG claims this version of HDR with dynamic metadata is largely redundant.
If all that sounds tempting but you also want a larger panel size, then the 77C9 might be right up your street. Big screen options are fairly limited when it comes to OLED, and aside from the C9 your choice is currently restricted to the LG OLED77W9 (£7,999), and Sony KD-77AG9 (£6,499). As a result the 77C9, which is available for £5,999 as at the time of writing (February 2020), potentially offers real value for money, especially when you consider all you get for your hard-earned readies.
Design, Connections and Control
The LG 77C9 follows the exact same design template as all of the company’s previous 4K OLED TVs (apart from the 'wallpaper' W Series), with the shape, location of VESA mounts and connections all identical. The general styling has remained remarkably consistent, with a 1mm metal trim around the panel, a 10mm black border around the image, and a brushed gunmetal finish at the rear.
About the only thing that’s actually changed recently is the shape of the stand, and interestingly this is where the 77C9 differs from the 55C9 and 65C9. The larger model uses the same curved gunmetal stand found on the previous C8 generation, and while there’s no obvious reason for this decision, it’s not a bad thing because it’s highly effective at directing sound towards the viewer.
As usual, you’ll find all the connections at the rear left as you face the screen, and while these are almost identical the smaller C9 models, there is one difference. The 77C9 has twin RF and satellite tuners, unlike its diminutive stablemates which are limited to one of each.
Otherwise it’s business as usual, with three HDMI 2.1 inputs, a USB 3.0 port and a CI slot all facing sideways. Rearwards you’ll find a fourth HDMI 2.1 input, two more USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5mm audio out, digital audio out and an Ethernet port for a wired connection. There’s also built-in dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and support for Apple AirPlay 2.
Related: What is HDMI 2.1?
The inclusion of HDMI 2.1 inputs means the C9 has you covered when it comes to any future developments, with support for higher frame rates up to 4K/120Hz, and eARC (enhanced audio return channel) which allows the TV to send lossless audio back to a soundbar or receiver via ARC. Gamers can also benefit from support for VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low latency mode).
The included controller is LG’s usual Magic Remote, which remains the best zapper on the market. Just spend ten minutes with this well-designed, comfortable to hold and highly intuitive on-screen pointer/remote, and all other wands feel antiquated by comparison. The buttons are sensibly laid out, providing all the important control keys, along with direct access to Netflix and Amazon Prime. There’s even a microphone for interacting with the TV’s built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Prime smart assistants.
SDR Out of the box
As is always the case we factory reset the TV before measuring its out-of-the-box performance. We measure all the picture presets, evaluating each one to establish which offers an image closest to the industry standards used for all video production. The idea is there should be at least one preset that mirrors the content creator’s intentions as closely as possible.
In the case of the LG 77C9, the best choice in terms of out-of-the-box image accuracy is the ISF Expert (Dark Room) preset. We don’t only focus on the calibrated performance here at AVForums, because calibration is often not an option for end users, but if you select ISF Dark Room you’ll be good to go, and as you’ll see below this particular sample hardly needs calibrating.
Related: Should I get my TV calibrated?
LG will be adding Filmmaker Mode to its 2020 TVs, but in reality if you simply select ISF Expert (Dark Room) the result will be the same. This mode is not only incredibly accurate, but also turns off all the unnecessary processing and frame interpolation.
LG has been knocking it out of the park lately when it comes to out-of-the-box accuracy, and the 77C9 we were testing proved no exception. In fact, as the graphs above show, this TV is genuinely accurate, with DeltaE errors that are all below one. The gamma is tracking BT1886 extremely well, and frankly any calibration of the greyscale and gamma would make no visible difference.
The colour accuracy compared to the industry standard of Rec.709 isn’t quite as impressive, with room for improvement in terms of the saturation of red and blue, along with the hue of cyan. However, none of these errors are actually visible, and overall this is an impressive greyscale, gamma and colour gamut performance out of the box.
If you have access to a colour meter and CalMAN software, you can calibrate the C9 yourself using the AutoCal feature and the TV’s built-in pattern generator. We actually performed both manual and AutoCal calibrations, but given the out-of-the-box accuracy there was little for either to do and the results were identical.
As you can see above the graphs speak for themselves, and the greyscale and gamma accuracy is about as good as you’re likely to see from a consumer display. Of course, given the accuracy out of the box, all it really required was a few tweaks on the White Balance controls and hey presto!
The colour gamut also delivers reference levels of accuracy thanks to the colour management system, and while there are still a few very minor errors, none are visible in actual content. Overall this is a superb performance from the C9, and matches the post-calibration measurements seen on Panasonic’s 2020 OLEDs.
LG continues to deliver impressive out-of-the-box SDR image accuracy
The LG 77C9 is equally as impressive when it comes to HDR, with a highly accurate and accomplished performance right out of the box. Although OLED can’t reach the brightness levels seen on higher-end LCD TVs, the absolute blacks and pixel-precise highlights result in remarkable contrast levels and an excellent HDR performance.
Any concerns that a self-emissive screen of this size might struggle in terms of overall brightness was immediately banished as we ran through our usual tests. As the graph below shows, the 77C9 is able to hit over 700 nits on 1%, 2%, 5% and 10% windows, with a peak of 721 nits in the case of the latter. Naturally, the overall brightness reduces after that and on a 100% window the C9 is only able to deliver 140 nits. This is one area where OLED struggles compared to LCD TVs, and since brightness is a component of colour volume it also impacts on those measurements. However, considering the 77-inch panel size, these are impressive numbers.
You have the option of manually calibrating HDR10 or using AutoCal, but the latter offers an additional feature where you can set the peak brightness for the dynamic tone mapping feature. By default this is set to 700 nits, which is good approximation based on the OLED panels we’ve tested. However, there can be significant panel variances, so if that’s the case you can use the AutoCal to set it precisely. For example, with this C9 you can set the peak brightness to the actual measurement of 721 nits and the tone mapping takes this into account, ensuring the PQ EOTF is correct and the tone mapping matches the panel's actual capabilities.
The HDR accuracy is as impressive as the SDR performance
Using the AutoCal for HDR10 allows you to calibrate the greyscale and colour gamut, however, if you are doing this make sure you only use the Matrix LUT for the colour calibration, otherwise it can cause posterising in the peak highlights. You can also use the AutoCal on Dolby Vision, in which case you simply calibrate the greyscale, save the measurements as a calibration file, and then load it back into the C9.
Related: What is High Dynamic Range (HDR)?
LG is adding Dolby Vision IQ to its 2020 TVs, and this uses a built-in sensor to adjust the dynamic tone mapping depending on the amount of ambient light in the room. While the C9 doesn’t include this feature, much like Filmmaker Mode it’s hardly a big deal. That’s because there are already two Dolby Vision modes available: Cinema and Cinema Home. For the most accurate image choose Cinema, but if it’s daytime and the image appears too dark, try Cinema Home instead.
As you can see in the first graph above, the greyscale is almost perfect with errors that are all below one. The DeltaEs at 70 to 100 are just the result of the C9 rolling off and hard clipping as it hits its peak brightness of 721 nits. Just as importantly, the C9 is tracking the PQ EOTF precisely, ensuring highly accurate tone mapping. The Dynamic Tone Mapping feature makes no difference to static test patterns, but does offer perceivable benefits when watching normal content. Although if you prefer, you can switch it off.
Related: What is Wide Colour Gamut (WCG)?
The DCI-P3 tracking is also very good, although there are minor hue errors in green, cyan, magenta and yellow, along with some undersaturation in red and blue. However, most of the measurements are close to their targets and the colour performance appears accurate with actual content. The C9 isn’t able to cover the entire P3 colour gamut, and like all OLEDs is limited in colour volume. However, we measured BT2020 coverage at 70% XY and 76% UV, while the DCI-P3 measurements hit 96% XY and 98% UV. Overall, this is an impressive HDR10 performance.
At 77 inches this is a seriously big TV, although it’s surprising how quickly you get used to the screen size. An amusing side-effect is that other TVs, even 65-inch models, start to look comically small. However, given the sheer size of the panel and the amount of real estate involved, the obvious concern is whether the image is uniform and free of any banding or other unwanted artefacts.
The good news is that like the peak brightness, the increased screen size doesn’t appear to have had an adverse effect on the uniformity. Overall, this was excellent, and while there was some minor banding when using a 5% slide, this was never apparent with actual viewing material. The black levels are also excellent, with good shadow detail and no obvious crush. This came as a surprise because LG has a habit of slightly crushing the blacks to hide more egregious artefacts like macro-blocking and flashing blacks. Thankfully, despite the blacks not being crushed, we haven’t had any issues with these artefacts, although they are very source dependant (especially with heavily compressed images).
As this is an OLED TV we should point out that if you view static images in bright HDR picture modes or vivid mode with SDR content with static logos or gaming HUDs, you could introduce image retention or burn-in. If you use an OLED TV in the best out of the box settings, as seen in this review and with a good mixture of varied content, as well as following the manufacturers’ guidelines to using the various mitigation features such as standby wash routines, then image retention or burn-in should never be an issue for you.
If you're looking for immersive gaming, the big screen and 12.8ms input lag is sure to please
The motion handling was very good, and this is undoubtedly an area where LG has made improvements in recent years. With TruMotion turned off, which is the default setting in ISF Expert (Dark Room), there was no obvious judder or stutter with 24p content. While we’d always recommend turning TruMotion off for films and TV dramas, when it comes to sports it can prove useful. However, there can be issues with artefacts on the higher settings, so some experimentation might be required. The black frame insertion feature still needs work and is best avoided, but Smooth Gradation is now a separate control and can prove useful, especially with gaming. The 12.8ms input lag is also sure to please gamers.
On a screen this big the upscaling is vital, and thankfully LG’s implementation is excellent. Sources are scaled with precision, and the image is free of any ringing or other unwanted artefacts. Some people might be worried that upscaled HD broadcasts and Blu-rays won’t look as good on a 77-inch screen, but they needn’t worry because a good high definition source looks superb. This isn’t just because of the upscaling and motion handling, but also thanks to the exceptional image accuracy discussed in the previous sections.
Related: What is Dolby Vision?
When it comes to SDR content OLED has no equal, with rich colours are that natural and realistic, blacks that are deep and well defined, and shadows which retain plenty of detail. The combination of absolute blacks and the peak brightness required for SDR results in images with exceptional dynamic range. When it comes to HDR the 77C9 might be restricted to 721 nits, but when combined with the deep blacks and pixel level of precision, the results can hold their own against most other TVs.
The HDR performance is often breathtaking, especially with Dolby Vision
It’s true that some LCD TVs can deliver brighter highlights and a better full field performance compared to the 77C9, but thanks to precise PQ tracking and dynamic tone mapping the latter’s performance with HDR10 is often breathtaking. It certainly makes you wonder whether the addition of HDR10+ would actually add any real benefits. Meanwhile, the performance with Dolby Vision (which is used more extensively than HDR10+) is superb thanks to its dynamic metadata. Overall, the HDR performance was excellent, with strong blacks, well-defined mid-tones and precise peak highlights that retain plenty of detail in brighter parts of the image.
While picture quality is important and the 77C9 doesn’t disappoint, there are other areas where it also excels. LG’s webOS smart platform remains the best and most intuitive implementation on the market, with a brilliant motion remote and highly responsive interface. More importantly, it offers a comprehensive selection of video streaming services, ensuring no matter how you watch your favourite shows the C9 has you covered.
There’s the ubiquitous Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube, along with all the UK catch-up services (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5). There’s also Freeview Play, Now TV and Rakuten TV, plus LG has added Apple TV+ in the last couple of weeks. Both Netflix and Prime (in a few instances) support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, and Apple TV also supports Dolby Vision, with LG promising Atmos support later in the year. LG will also add Disney+ when that services launches in the UK on the 24th of March.
The webOS smart platform is intuitive, responsive and now includes Apple TV+
Finally, the 77C9 even sounds good, in part thanks to the design of its stand but also because the larger size allows for bigger drivers and more amplification. The chances are that anyone investing in a screen this big will also have some form of outboard audio solution, either a soundbar or any AV receiver with multichannel speakers. However, if you are planning on simply using the 77C9’s built-in sound solution, it includes support for Dolby Atmos and in general you won’t be disappointed.
- Impressive black levels and shadow detail
- Amazing accuracy out of the box
- Superb SDR and HDR performance
- CalMAN AutoCal
- Dolby Vision support
- Dolby Atmos support
- HDMI 2.1 connections
- webOS is state of the art
- Comprehensive streaming choices
- Very low input lag
- Excellent design and build quality
- Great price for such a huge screen
- No HDR10+
- Possibility of screen burn
LG C9 (OLED77C9) 4K OLED TV Review
Should I buy the LG 77C9?
The LG C9 is a genuinely impressive OLED TV, which explains why it picked up TV of the year in the 2019 Editor’s Choice Awards. It isn’t just that it delivers an accurate picture out of the box, or that it offers state-of-the-art calibration features. It’s quite simply the most feature-packed TV you can currently buy, with everything from HDMI 2.1 connections to HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support, not to mention CalMAN AutoCal, webOS and ThinQ AI with built-in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. About the only thing missing is HDR10+ support, but that’s no great loss.
So should you buy a 77C9? If you’re looking for a big screen 4K OLED TV, then answer is unquestionably yes. The SDR and HDR picture quality is awesome, with the latter hitting a peak brightness of 721 nits, and the upscaling ensures images look detailed despite the size of the panel. Considering the latter the screen uniformity was also very good, with no obvious banding. There was no apparent black crush either, nor did I experience any flashing or macro-blocking, although those artefacts are more source related.
The inclusion of HDMI 2.1 ports with 48Gbps allows the 77C9 to display higher frame rates up to 120Hz, eARC (enhanced audio return channel), dynamic metadata for HDR, auto low latency mode (ALLM) and variable refresh rates (VRR). That’s great news for gamers, as is the 12.8ms input lag, making the 77C9 perfect for anyone wanting to enjoy immersive big screen gaming. For those worried about image retention or screen burn, neither has been an issue in over two months of regular use.
The LG 77C9 not only looks great and sounds good, but is feature packed and future proofed, making it a fantastic 4K OLED TV that’s very hard to fault.
What are my alternatives?
As we mentioned in the introduction, at this screen size your options are fairly limited. If you like the ideal of the ‘wallpaper’ LG OLED77W9 with its separate sound system and upward-firing drivers for Dolby Atmos, then at £7,999 it’s worth considering. In terms of performance and features it’s identical to the C9, and that ultra-thin panel stuck on your wall with magnets will look very cool. Your only other alternative is the Sony KD-77AG9 at £6,499, but it doesn’t offer the same level of features as the 77C9 and it’s £500 more expensive. As a result, the LG 77C9 represents a big-screen best buy, and with the CX arriving soon you can expect prices to drop further in the coming months.
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
Our Review Ethos
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