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Review: LG G1 OLED 'Evo'

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G1 is LG's second-generation 'Gallery' OLED TV with a slim design for flush wall-mounting. It is also equipped with LG's first 'Evo' OLED panel as well as HDMI 2.1, webOS 6.0 with Game Optimizer, and the other 2021 features. As opposed to the more affordable LG C1, G1 is available only in 55–77 inches – not 48 or 83 inches.

 Also read: LG 2021 TV line-up


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First impressions

Why should you pay more for LG G1 over C1? The main reason should be its thin design because other than that there are few noticeable differences. Historically, most OLED TVs have been equipped with the unsightly electronics box on the back. It houses driving electronics, boards, input/output ports, power circuit etc. The only alternative before 2021 was LG's W range (wallpaper), which was as thin as a cardboard but it required rather bulky soundbar with built-in driving electronics. The W range has been discontinued in 2021 after LG introduced its G range of 'Gallery' OLED TVs in 2020. Like last year's GX, the new G1 has a fully integrated design with all electronic components hidden behind the panel, and the two look more or less identical. G1 is not ultra thin but it comes bundled with a slim wall bracket solution for flush wall-mounting. It is a clever little system where it is possible to pull out the bracket if you need to connect additional cables. It does not swivel or tilt. The back of the TV has recess paths for cables so G1 still looks clean and elegant even with many HDMI cables plugged in. In addition, LG has included an IR emitter that can be extended down into a rack or furniture where it can emit Infrared commands to control other devices.
It is still possible to have LG G1 on a tabletop stand but the feet must be purchased separately as only the wall bracket is bundled in the box. If you are looking for a tabletop based TV, G1 is probably not the logical choice in the first place. We put G1 on feet only because it is impractical to wall-mount review samples. Also, for the first time LG is offering a floor stand for its OLED TVs. It is available as a separate purchase and is compatible with G1 along with other 2021, 2020, and 2019 OLED models. We did not have the floor stand available for the review but it is depicted in one of LG's model pictures above. Like C1, G1 is equipped with four HDMI 2.1 ports to let users connect multiple 'next-gen' game consoles and players. It features the other usual ports too including Ethernet and USB but note that any USB storage device must be thin and small enough to fit into one of the recesses on the back of G1, so you should probably look for an SSD solution. All ports face either to the side or down – unlike C1 which still has rear-facing ports. As for the panel, G1 looks like C1 and has the same type of anti-reflective coating. Although effective, it still has a mirror effect in a bright viewing environment and it does not match Samsung's excellent coating in its high-end LCD TVs, which more effectively reduces reflections. In the photo below you see the morning sun shining through a glass door behind the TV, reflected in the screen.

 LG G1 review

Note: Unfortunately, some of our photos have a moiré effect that was only discovered after we returned the TV. Ignore the moiré as it is not related to the actual OLED panel.

User experience & features

LG G1 has the same SoC / processor for webOS as C1, which we recently tested and there are no major differences to report other than to note that LG added a few extra things with a recent firmware which is also available on C1, such as an additional Game Dashboard menu at the bottom of the screen and some webOS optimizations. We refer to our LG C1 review for an evaluation of webOS anno 2021 (version 6.0) and LG's TV platform as a whole. Once again, we would like to emphasize that the switch from the app 'cards' at the bottom of the screen in last year's webOS 5.0 to a fullscreen app menu in webOS 6.0 feels to us like a downgrade in user experience; a handy way (for LG) to clear the path for more ads (including recommendations) in the webOS user interface. The webOS homescreen now looks more akin to Android TV, but webOS feels less complete and functional as compared to the latest Android TV / Google TV version, which makes it even less appropriate that LG still refuses to update its TVs' operating system to future OS versions after the sale. What you see is what you get. Do not expect major new webOS features to make their way to LG C1 or G1 in the future.
Once you manage find the row of tiny app icons on the homescreen, apps should work just like before the switch to fullscreen webOS as the underlying app code structure remains intact. App loading times are acceptable too. I will never learn to love LG's on-screen cursor but your preference may differ, and we know that some users now prefer it to navigation buttons.  The remote control that comes with G1 is identical to the remote control that came with C1, which is a shame as it does not match the exclusive look of the TV. A few users may find that the sponsored app buttons match exactly their preferences but all other users must now accept ads on the remote control that comes bundled with their premium TV. No TV manufacturer has had to courage to say no, reject sponsored buttons, and put the user experience above all else. Other than that, the feel of the buttons in general is improved compared to last year's remote although the buttons on our sample often produced a squeaking sound, underlining the fact that the plastic clicker does not match the look and feel of the TV.

 LG G1 review

The built-in speakers are decent enough for sporadic use and voices generally sound clear. Bass is obviously lacking as there are limits to how much air a small cabinet can move, and LG's "AI" sound profile cannot fix such hardware limitations. Last year, LG had a matching soundbar available for its G series OLED TVs and we have been told that it remains compatible with G1. We would recommend some type of external speaker solution – a good soundbar at a minimum – to match the excellent picture quality of LG G1. We tested LG G1 with Sonos Arc connected through HDMI eARC, which worked as intended. Dolby Atmos signals were passed correctly to Sonos Arc from HDMI connected devices as well built-in apps in LG G1.

Calibration

Like other high-end LG TVs, G1 offers a suite of advanced calibration options and if you have the right equipment and software it would be a shame not to squeeze out the last few percentages of picture quality. All picture modes can now be auto-calibrated with SpectraCal's Calman software. If you want to learn more about Calman auto-calibration check our examination in the LG C9 review from 2019. For most users, the myriad of picture modes may seem chaotic and overwhelming, exacerbated by the recent addition of Filmmaker Mode. For our manual calibration, we used ISF Expert (Dark) as our starting point as it is relatively accurate out of the box on LG OLED TVs. As you can see on our 'After calibration' graph, primary and secondary color accuracy fell somewhat after our grey tone adjustment (which is the only change from ISF in this screenshot). Here, improved color accuracy would require color adjustment too, which requires equipment or better yet auto-calibration of all picture modes that you intend to use on G1.  The other picture modes will require further adjustment and it is a shame that LG's 'Game' mode is still not as accurate as it could be – with its too high color temperature – but at least the Game mode is not pushing colors into a larger color gamut. With some game consoles, G1 will automatically switch to its Game profile when you open a game. This system is called ALLM and is currently supported by Xbox. PlayStation consoles can also make the TV switch but only on a system level (it does not know the difference between an app and a game). For HDR10, we still recommend 'Cinema' or 'Filmmaker Mode' as these are the most accurate out-of-box picture modes. We also once again want to emphasize that LG TVs support HGiG (HDR Gaming Interest Group), which can be enabled from the menu to prevent tone-mapping from happening on both the TV and console/game – a type of "Filmmaker Mode" for gaming. There is no visible change in G1's color gamut coverage compared to C1 and even compared to Sony A90J there is virtually no practical difference even though the measurements come in slightly lower in the Sony.

Measurements

In our "measurements" section we include all measurements and our suggested calibration settings. If you want to learn more about our test methodology click here. Note: Starting with our LG C1 review this year, we have implemented a new method for measurement of average power consumption in SDR and HDR, meaning that earlier measurements are not 1:1 comparable. The new method will be used in all TV reviews going forward. Note: We include calibration settings only for SDR, not HDR. For our calibration we have deactivated the ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the backlight setting according to your environment. You may prefer to have it enabled.
 LG G1 review

Picture quality

With the announcement of its 2021 TV line-up, LG introduced its first OLED 'Evo' panel in G1. The company described it as a new, more efficient OLED panel with higher brightness, but the finer details were concealed. It has since come to light that the 'Evo' panel has a different layer composition than the regular OLED panel from LG Display, which is found in all other OLED TVs from all brands. As a result of the new panel, combined with some driving/software adjustments, G1 should deliver somewhat higher light output, according to LG. So how much more? We measured 209 nits on 100% APL (full-screen white), which is about 35 nits higher than what we measured on LG C1 earlier this year. In smaller segments of the picture, G1's panel reaches 800+ nits of peak brightness, which is approximately 50 nits higher than C1. It is hardly significant and perhaps not even visible to your eye unless you examine the two TVs side-by-side. See our table above for more measurements. The panel in G1 does not have the same thermal cooling profile as the one found in some other OLED TVs, which may help explain why G1 is still not reaching the same brightness levels as Panasonic HZ2000. From a picture quality standpoint the slightly higher luminance level is the difference between G1 and C1. There is not much else to report, unfortunately. Nevertheless, it positions G1 as LG's best OLED model. You get the same TV reference-class picture quality with calibration, which seems like a good investment if you buy a flagship TV like G1. Without calibration we recommend that you use one of the ISF modes for SDR and Cinema/Filmmaker for HDR10.
In other areas such as color gradients, LG has rolled out – across its high-end TV models – improved systems to detect and smoothen out gradients. Compared to high-end OLED TVs from Panasonic and Sony, it is getting increasingly hard to spot any differences unless you have the TVs side-by-side where Sony's algorithm appears to retain a little more detail in some sequences, although it is marginal. The same goes for motion systems where LG has made strides to match Sony's motion system that for many years had been considered the best implementation. LG's 'Cinema Clear' or custom settings allow you to activate the TruMotion system and maintain a minimal level of motion artefacts in the picture. Most often with OLED, the reason why motion appears choppy is actually due to the low frame rate of the source content combined with the ultrashort response time in an OLED pixel. For improved motion, some may want to engage a TV's motion system (TruMotion in LG TVs) until we get higher frame rate content without inherent stutter.
Pitting LG G1 against the most prominent flagship OLED TVs from competing TV brands, Sony A90J has, in our opinion, marginally better motion and gradient smoothing, if you prefer to use these systems, whereas Panasonic HZ2000 manages to squeeze out a little more OLED brightness and a little better shadow detail, but these really are marginal differences that would require side-by-side testing to spot for most users. At this point, all three models would in their own way qualify as our reference TV. We spotted some 'vignetting' on dark colors in full-screen on our G1 sample. On the other hand it did not suffer from the vertical lines that our C1 sample exhibited. As highlighted many times before, these things vary from one sample to another so take our report on panel homogeneity for what it is: A sample of 1. As usual, we did spot any burn-in issues during our time with LG G1 but our lengthy calibration sessions did sometimes leave a faith hint of the test pattern used. The retention disappeared after a few seconds.
LG G1 comes with the same gaming features as C1 and our high praise to LG in this area naturally extends to G1. With the launch of 'next-gen' game consoles, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, the console gaming experience on TVs has come into renewed focus. In 2021, LG has a new 'Game Optimizer' menu that lets you tweak picture settings and enable various systems. The four HDMI 2.1 ports support HDMI VRR, AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync Compatible as well as 4K120 input in SDR, HDR10 and Dolby Vision. LG is currently the only TV brand to support Dolby Vision at 4K 120Hz. Also read: Dolby Vision gaming is now available on Xbox Series X, Series S As you may know, only Xbox supports VRR output at this time whereas Sony has promised to bring it to PlayStation 5 through a firmware update in the future. LG G1 is also one of the fastest TVs on the market with its fast response time and down to 10 ms input lag (with the booster function enabled from the Game Optimizer menu) in 4K60 without VRR. With an Xbox you can more or less halve G1's input lag when in VRR / 4K120 mode. However, G1 still suffers from raised blacks in VRR mode and LG has not provided a timeline for a real fix – the new software function that can be enabled manually is only a patch solution that only serves to reduce the effect. Compared to Sony A90J and Panasonic HZ2000, LG G1 is a step up in terms of gaming with its four HDMI 2.1 ports and its many gaming features. Sony has yet to deliver on its promised VRR update and we are still waiting for Panasonic JZ1500 so we have not been able to compare the three in VRR mode.

Conclusion

If you had hoped for a revolution, LG's OLED 'Evo' panel is not it. As measured in raw picture quality, LG G1 is almost identical to the more affordable LG C1. The new, more efficient OLED panel for 2021 delivers slightly higher brightness overall but it is not a significant improvement.
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The main reason to buy LG G1 over LG C1 or another OLED TV should be its thin and elegant design. The bundled wall bracket solution lets you mount G1 flush to the wall. LG previously sold the W series ('wallpaper') which was an even thinner OLED screen but the downside was that it required an external soundbar / electronics box. LG G1 has all electronic components integrated so no external box is required. LG G1 comes with the same features as the highly acclaimed LG C1 including four HDMI 2.1 ports for 4K120 as well as the latest gaming features such as three VRR flavors (with a wide frequency range) and ALLM. LG is also the first TV manufacturer to roll out support for Vision Vision in 4K 120Hz, which is now supported on Xbox Series X. The latest revision of LG's webOS platform (version 6.0) has a redesigned user interface in full screen but we are not convinced about its benefits, and overall we consider it a step back compared to webOS's previous state of minimalism – a way to serve more ads and recommendations. LG is still not providing major OS updates to webOS in existing TVs and since webOS 6.0 also lacks polish that may be an even more important point in 2021 than ever. LG G1 is one of the more expensive OLED TVs that compete with the likes of Sony A90J and Panasonic's 2000 range. Sony and Panasonic have both started implementing HDMI 2.1 this year so is difficult to point to important differences but if you want the most feature-packed OLED TV in a slim and elegant design, G1 is the one to get. If you care only about picture quality you can get almost the same picture experience with the cheaper LG C1 model.
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Change in test parameters: In 2018, we made a change to a test parameter that relates to the features score, following years of poor practice in the TV industry. Unless a manufacturer of a given "Smart TV" can provide FlatpanelsHD with assurance that the TV platform will be updated to the next major version, the feature score will be lowered by 10 points. We hope that our initiative can help highlight the problem, start a discussion, and change the practice.

LG has not been able to give us such a guarantee for webOS.

Price and retailers:

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Nice design
Excellent HD, 4K & HDR
HDMI 2.1 ports, features
Gaming features like 4K HFR, VRR


New webOS feels like a downgrade
webOS not receiving updates
Raised blacks in VRR







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