It’s not a secret: I love the LG C1. That 2021 model gets just about everything right on a 4K TV that it can, succumbing only to issues that are inherent to OLED. That is, so we thought. With Samsung’s new QD OLED technology coming to market this year, suddenly we see the next generation of what to expect from the technology: better color and, more importantly, more brightness.
As if feeling Samsung’s breath on the back of its neck, LG’s C2 engineers were forced to find a way to add more brightness to the same OLED panel, and while they succeeded, it’s not to such a degree that anyone would notice unless they had both panels side by side – something basically no consumer ever gets to do.
LG C2 – Photos
All that said, however little an upgrade it is over its predecessor, the LG C2 is still a stellar television.
LG C2 – Design and Build
As has been the case for at least the last few years, LG OLEDs look absolutely stunning and the C2 is no different. The nearly bezel-less design and gorgeous flat panel make the C2 appear as just a giant uninterrupted display.
The stand is a bit different from last year, especially if you go with the smaller 42-inch C2 that we had for our review. Last year, the C1 came on a large, wide base with excellent cable management hidden behind it. This year, that base is a lot less wide on the 55-inch models and up, which can make it feel a bit precarious. On the 42-inch variant, LG changed things up and went with a wide-set dual foot design with weak cable management built into each. It’s an interesting choice, since the larger TVs would feel more stable with this dual foot design while the smaller models wouldn’t suffer from the balance issues of a single center stand design.
As was the case last year, the port options on the C2 are outstanding: it has four HDMI 2.1 ports that support up to 120Hz (one of which is eARC), three USB ports, ethernet, coaxial cable, a headphone jack, and optical. Wirelessly, the C2 supports Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi 6 – an upgrade over the C1’s WiFi 5.
One small thing I’m not a fan of is the non-removable power cable. LG did the same thing with the C1 and while it won’t necessarily be an issue for many users, if something were to yank this cable and remove it from the housing, the TV would need to be professionally repaired.
LG C2 – Remote
Holding the C2 remote feels identical to the experience on the C1. As has been the case for several years now, LG stands alone in the industry by offering a remote that has gyroscopic motion control, similar to the Nintendo Wii or Switch controllers. You don’t have to use it and it can be dismissed quickly by just pushing any navigation button on the controller, but by default LG seems to want you to wave the remote around like a Harry Potter wand to go through menus and settings.
With this in mind, the LG remote is a bit thicker than you would expect from a modern television controller and has a nice indent to rest your fingers. So while it is a bit of a beefy controller, it is also one of the more comfortable to hold.
There aren’t too many buttons on the C2 remote, especially when compared to something like a Sony controller, but it has a lot more than you’ll find on a Roku remote or one from Samsung. Like just about every TV controller these days, it has pre-selected shortcut buttons. My review unit featured Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, LG Channels, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa.
LG C2 – Software, and UI
The C1 uses LG’s WebOS smart TV interface and I can’t see much, if anything, that has changed compared to last year. As I’ve said before, I find it inoffensive but it is also not my favorite. It has a good selection of apps and while it’s not the fastest or snappiest on the market, it’s fine and most will be perfectly satisfied with it.
Personally, I find that WebOS is just trying to do too much. In addition to being a television, it wants to be a hub for your smarthome (hence the Google Home and Alexa shortcuts on the remote) and provide social media access as well. That is honestly way more than I’m looking for from my television. I have my phone or my computer for social media and if I’m using Google Home or Alexa, I have the devices already to support it. LG just seems to want its device to be a one stop shop for all things connected and, to me, that’s in contrast with how people actually use smart devices and what they expect out of their televisions.
For gaming, the C2 has the same Game Optimization menu from last year’s C1 and it is still excellent. The first time it senses a game console, it automatically brings up this special menu when you hit the gear icon on the remote. With it, you can create four presets for different types of games (like an RPG or an FPS), adjust the black levels, and customize the color of the menu itself. It also displays the current framerate of content on the television, which is great.
This much information about your gaming is still not standard on TVs, and makes the C2 work excellently for console or PC gaming where you want to be sure you’re getting all the frames you’re promised.
LG C2 – Picture Quality
LG OLED panels are famed for their fast pixel response time, great color accuracy, and outstanding contrast, but have historically achieved these highs at the cost of brightness. LG has designed a way to let the C2 get brighter while also keeping the risk of burn-in low by changing how it sinks the heat that brightness requires away from the display itself.
Burn-in is a risk you run with OLED panels. Burn-in – or at least what we colloquially call burn-in – happens when the organic matter that makes up the pixels wears out. The hotter and brighter you run these pixels, the faster this happens. LG managed to increase the brightness by sinking heat away from the panel itself which should, in theory, prevent the panel from having any kind of lifespan issues that are different from what we have seen in past LG OLEDs, but only time will really tell if this is the case.
LG C2 – Color Gamut Tests
Luckily, most people will never experience burn-in if they use the TV for movies, television, and video games. It has a higher chance of happening if you deploy the C2 as a computer monitor as there are a lot more static elements on screen, but most people will never have a problem in the expected lifespan of the television.
The result of this extra boost to the pixels is a panel that gets a modest increase to HDR peak brightness to more than 800 nits, which is about 200 nits more than the C1. One of my few complaints about last year’s model is that it didn’t feel particularly bright, and that’s not as much of a problem on the C2. No, it’s not going to blow you away with brightness, but this year’s OLED is more capable of battling ambient light and I was able to comfortably game on it with my window blinds open in my office.
While it still has some significant glare issues – an issue I had with the C1 as well – the brightness boost helps the TV better display HDR content and the magic LG’s engineers pulled off here deserves some praise.
While the C2 is capable of being quite color accurate – even to the degree professional colorists could use it as a monitor – it doesn’t arrive like that out of the box. Since most people aren’t going to calibrate their TVs and even fewer are going to shell out for professional calibration, we are only looking at what you can expect the TV to do directly from the factory.
The C2 nails 100% of sRGB, 88.8% of Adobe RGB, and 96% of the DCI P3 color gamuts with a Delta E average of 3.33. Honestly, I was pretty surprised how poor the color accuracy of this panel is out of the box considering how good OLED can be. To me, the white balance felt the most off which, luckily, is one of the easiest things to fix. It’s just disappointing that it’s not better directly from LG, since very few people will take the time to fix it. If you do, though, other reviewers have managed to get it calibrated to a Delta E of less than one.
I do want to point out that the average person isn’t going to notice any problems with the color unless it is sitting side by side with a different television or another C2 that has been color calibrated. A Delta E of less than four is just fine and most people can’t see the difference unless it exceeds six. So while I wish it was better, the C2’s out of the box performance is acceptable.
Looking at the panel’s uniformity, it’s pretty consistent and received either Nominal or Recommended tolerance across the whole display, which is great to see.
OLEDs can achieve perfect black levels thanks to the ability to not just dim pixels, but outright turn them off. That means that deep, rich blacks are achieved here and that contrast with the brights makes the TV just a joy to watch movies and enjoy HDR gaming on. I love this panel, and LG went the extra mile to make it just a bit brighter to boot, which I can only applaud.
LG C2 – Gaming Performance
Since very little has changed from last year and the bar was already so high, it should come as no surprise that this television works outstandingly for gaming. I tested it mainly with Destiny 2, Deep Rock Galactic, and Horizon: Forbidden West and in all three cases I was treated to a spectacular visual experience.
The Game Optimizer lets you set different black levels depending on what kind of content you’re playing. I might not want those deep, rich, inky blacks in Destiny 2’s competitive Crucible mode or in Deep Rock Galactic, for example, but will want them present to truly soak in the visual spectacle of Horizon: Forbidden West. With the C2, I can set those preferences in the Optimizer and swap to different presets depending on the game.
As expected, response time feels outstanding and smooth, especially in competitive player versus player content like Destiny 2. The C2 supports auto-low latency mode (ALLM), variable refresh rate (VRR), G-Sync, and AMD FreeSync through any of its four HDMI 2.1 ports. As such, it is capable of providing 120Hz inputs to a PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X all at the same time, leaving the eARC port available for a sound system or a Nintendo Switch.
LG C2 – Audio Quality
LG has a kind of AI sound upscaler that you can enable when you first set up the television and if you’re not planning to use headphones or a sound system of any kind, I do recommend you enable it because it does significantly improve sound quality.
Don’t get too excited though, because the physics of this slim television restrict the audio from getting anywhere close to what I would call “good.” It’s serviceable and certainly capable of getting loud, but the low end is all but absent and the mids and highs can become muddled.
For those who want an audio experience that is on par with the visual spectacle that the C2 is capable of presenting, you’re going to want to either wear a nice pair of headphones or pick up a soundbar or surround sound system. This TV just isn’t capable of great sound on its own – no modern flat panel is.
LG C2 – The Competition
I have mentioned Samsung already, and that’s because the S95B is the closest thing to a true competitor that LG has experienced in a very long time, though it’s pricey at $2,800 for a 65-inch display. But compared to the $2,300 65-inch C2, it’s close enough that buyers may consider opting for Samsung’s very impressive new tech.
Honestly though, the biggest competition to the C2 comes in the form of last year’s C1. I hardly noticed the extra brightness in this year’s model and only saw it because I recently reviewed the C1. The average consumer probably won’t see it either, and since that’s really the only difference between the C1 and the C2, there isn’t a lot here that I can point to that rationalizes picking up the 2022 model as long as the 2021 model is still available – which, at the time of publication, still is, and for a solid discount: a 65-inch C1 can be found for around $1,600.