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Review: LG C2 OLED 'Evo'

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LG C2 is the successor to 2021's very popular C1. LG's mainstream OLED TV now features 'OLED Evo', which is a combination of a more advanced and efficient panel and new algorithms. In addition, it features a couple of new webOS features and a redesigned, much lighter frame/stand. For the first time, C2 will be available in 42 inches in addition to the 48, 55, 65, 77 and 83 inch sizes.

We are testing the 65 inch version.

 Also read: LG 2022 TV line-up


Price and retailers:

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First impressions

LG C2 has a redesigned rectangular electronics box and a textured flat back, which in our opinion looks much nicer than the glossy plastic look of previous LG B and C series OLED TVs. There is a silver metal frame and the screen bezel has been reduced somewhat as compared to last year's models. There is more good news as all ports now finally face to the side making it much easier to wall mount the TV flush to the wall while still making the ports accessible. There are 4x HDMI 2.1 ports, 3x USB ports, Ethernet (still limited to 100Mbps), and a couple of other ports. Third, the 2022 model is much lighter than previous LG OLED TVs. Our 65-inch C2 weighs around 17 kilogram with the stand attached while last year's 65-inch C1 weights approximately 32.5 kilograms. That is a reduction of almost 50% which is a substantial difference that can be felt. LG explains that C2 uses a new strong composite fiber material but part of the reason is also the redesigned stand. It is a cleaner design that looks more premium. However, the electronics box is still rather large and we hope that LG will take steps to further reduce both its thickness and footprint in the future. If you want an even cleaner look you should consider LG's G2 (which is more expensive). C2's new table-top stand still provides a solid foundation for the TV. Be aware that the stand design differs between the C2 sizes (42, 48 and 83" look different, as detailed in the TV Database here (see comments section).
It should also be noted that once again this year there will be several variants of C2 known as C24, C25 and C26 followed by two letters. The number refers to the region. If the model name ends on 'B' or 'D' it will have a white back and lighter tint on the stand. If the model name ends on 'A' it will have black back. 'D' models have a swivel stand that be manually turned 20 degrees from center position. We have the C24LA version. LG C2 has a glossy OLED panel with more or less the same anti-reflective coating as other OLED TVs. It has the lowest reflectance of any TV panel other than Samsung's flagship LCD TVs that come with a special coating. In a brightly lit room you will see reflections in the dark areas of the screen.

User experience & features

LG is referring to this year's version of its TV platform as webOS 22 – short for 2022. weOS 22 introduces user profiles to let each user access his or hers favorite streaming services and get tailored content recommendations based on viewing history as well as personal notifications, although we many limitations for recommendations since most streaming apps still do not support it. Unfortunately, user profiles do not extend to picture/audio or other TV settings either. LG is still not providing updated for webOS in previous years' Smart TVs meaning that 2021 C1 models are stuck on webOS 6.0 that they came with. Likewise, this year's models will be stuck on webOS 22 when webOS 23 presumably gets released next year. However, you do get app updates and a couple of new features that did not make it in time for the spring launch. LG has announced plans to support Matter in its 2022 TVs through a software update in the second half of 2022. Matter is a new industry standard for the smart home that will be cross-compatible across brands and platforms. Besides LG, Matter is backed by major players such as Amazon, Apple and Google.
In addition, C2 and G2 will later get room-to-room sharing (requires firmware update) for viewing cable or satellite content on another TV at home. LG has added a multi-view feature for side-by-side or PiP viewing.

LG C2 review

The last major new feature is 'Always Ready' which turns the screen into a digital canvas for showcasing artwork and more. This function is included in both C2 and G2 but must be activated manually from General -> Always Ready. Enabling it means that once you push the power button on the remote control to turn off the TV, it switches to art pieces, 'movements', a clock or moments (your own photos that can be uploaded from a phone with the LG ThinQ app). You can also download mind-soothing sounds to use a soundtrack in the background. Push the off button again to put the TV into standby – or double-press initially.

LG C2 test

LG C2 test

With Always Ready activated, the TV will go into a light sleep mode from which it can wake up quickly (but not instantaneously). In this state it accepts the 'Hi LG' wake-word which brings up a new voice prompt from which you can open an app by saying "open Netflix" or switch to a specific input by saying "switch to HDMI1". However, be aware that Always Ready consumes around 34W, based on our testing, when the screen is off, which is obviously too much for a mode that should engage only minimal processing. For comparison, the Apple TV 4K consumes just 1.5W in its 'always ready' standby mode. Other than that, webOS remains largely unchanged from last year's models that replaced the bottom bar with a full-screen user interface. We are still not convinced that this is a step forward for webOS and the user experience. We refer to our LG G2 review and LG C1 review from 2021 for more information on the webOS changes and features in addition to the TV tuner features.

Operation

C2 comes bundled with the same remote as last year's C1. It is a black plastic clicker that feels too cheap for a premium TV like C2, and too chaotic for 2022. The remote now has six sponsored buttons that you will just have to live with even if you are not using the voice assistants or streaming services that have paid to put their logo on your remote control for a high-end TV. On the other hand you can create your own shortcut buttons by holding down 1, 2, 3 etc. which can be very useful, although a better approach would be to configurable app buttons. These can be assigned to specific apps, HDMI ports, and more, The remote has separate Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa buttons that don't work in many regions of the world, in addition to LG's own voice button. It's a mess. The remote still relies on motion gestures to control a small cursor on the screen, meaning that you must wave it around in the air to control the TV. The scroll-wheel feels better this year and you can also use the left/right/up/down buttons to navigate. Unfortunately, there is no way to deactivate motion control so unless you have a steady hand the motion cursor will appear on the screen from time to time to wreak havoc.

LG C2 review

TV audio

Compared to previous LG C-range OLED TVs, there are no major changes in terms of speaker capabilities and outputs in C2. The biggest change came with HDMI eARC for high-quality audio output and passthrough but that was in 2019 with C9. A couple of years ago, LG implemented 'AI Sound Pro' which can in 2022 upmix sound to virtual 7.1.2 and do other virtualizations to adapt to the type of content. However, it often changes sound too much which makes things worse and I ended up turning AI Sound off. The speaker system is hidden and decent for casual use. It manages to produce clear voices but bass is not very deep and the TV often has to dance around the deepest tones in various ways. In previous years, LG used the tabletop stand to direct sound towards the viewer. That is no longer possible since LG has changed the stand design but the change did not have a big effect on the overall performance in our testing. LG has implemented other new systems such as a room calibration function (AI Acoustic Tuning) that uses the microphone in the remote control to analyze your surroundings, and this might be helpful in your living space. In our testing room, which is perfectly square and has a carpet calibration did not change the sound noticeably. An 'Automatic Volume Adjustment' does what the name says but it is not spot-on yet so after our testing we preferred to keep it off, which is the default option. It will probably depend on which TV and streaming sources you use.

LG C2 review

LG C2 supports Dolby formats up to Dolby Atmos for internal playback and output via HDMI eARC (which worked as expected with a Sonos Arc soundbar), but there is still no support for DTS audio formats. For casual use the speakers should be adequate but for big movies, games and music we recommend an external speaker system or a soundbar solution to go with LG C2.

Calibration

As you may know, LG OLED TVs support Calman AutoCal (auto-calibration) so for enthusiasts with the right equipment and software it is relatively easy and straightforward to calibrate C2. We refer to our LG C8 review from 2018 for more details on how it works. If you prefer the manual way, LG provides these tools, too. LG C2 offers lots of picture modes, most of which are redundant and simply add to the confusion and clutter. For the most accurate SDR picture you should opt for 'ISF' or 'Filmmaker Mode'. As mentioned in our LG G2 review, 'ISF Bright' targets gamma 2.2 while 'ISF Dark Room' targets BT.1886. In our measurement below we measured 'ISF Dark Room' up against BT.1886 in order to visualize the difference as compared to our measurement in the LG G2 review. As you can see 'ISF Dark' on our C2 sample was very accurate so we did not proceed to calibrate with 2-point settings. Well done, LG! Avoid 'Standard' and 'Vivid'. The 'Game' mode is not great in terms of accuracy but much better than what you find in most other TVs. We refer to our measurements below and to the right. Also worth emphasizing here is that you must remember to disable energy saving from the menu of LG OLED TVs to avoid a significantly darker image than intended: Device Self Care -> Energy Saving Step -> Off. As for HDR, we recommend 'Cinema' or 'Filmmaker Mode', which are more or less identical. Avoid 'Standard' and 'Vivid'. Again, Game mode in HDR is not great either in terms of picture accuracy. LG C2 hits 98% of DCI-P3 and 71% of Rec.2020, which is on par with other LG OLED TVs including last year's C1. We will elaborate on HDR brightness and peak brightness in the picture quality section.

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 last year, we 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 C2 review

Picture quality

In 2022, 'OLED Evo' has made it to C2 but in our testing C2 is not brighter than last year's C1, and not as bright as the more expensive LG G2 either. In fact, while our C2 reaches the same peak brightness of approx. 750 nits (at D65 white point – or 850 nits at higher color temperatures), it reaches only 370 nits on a 25% window as compared to 530 nits for C1 and only 155 nits in full screen as compared to 175 nits for C1. As such, LG C2 delivers lower brightness than last year's C1 based on testing on our review sample, but then again these things tend to fluctuate between samples so you should expect some variation even between two C2's. In our opinion, OLED TVs are good enough for bright living rooms and they deliver impactful HDR peak brightness but it would nevertheless be nice if LG OLED TVs could hit the first HDR milestone (1000 nits) and have somewhat higher fullscreen brightness. Also be aware that the 42 and 48 inch versions of C2 do not get as bright as the 55 inch and larger C2 screens, according to LG. Other than that C2 is very similar to C1 and other C series that came before. So instead of making this too repetitive let's try to sum up and look at some of the smaller differences. The last big change came in 2019 with CX and the introduction of the HDMI 2.1 features. Since then it has been getting harder to find quantifiable changes or improvements. C2 still supports three HDR formats (HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision) as well as Filmmaker Mode, and while LG has implemented additional sensor intelligence and picture enhancements algorithms, most enthusiasts prefer to turn off these systems – as do we. In 2020, Dolby Vision IQ introduced a more room lighting adaptable approach to Dolby Vision and this year Dolby is adding 'Precision Detail', which is a picture enhancement system to enhance details in bright and dark areas, and kind of strange to see added to the relatively puristic Dolby Vision format. Examining Dolby Vision content on LG C2 did not led us to conclude that any significant improvements have been made in practice. No amount of processing will bring significant improvements to high-end HDR displays – improved brightness and improved color saturation (towards Rec.2020) will.
As a TV for movie watching, C2 delivers great and very accurate pictures while OLED in general delivers the most impactful HDR in our opinion due to OLED's pixel-level luminance control that can bring out bright highlights while preserving absolute black for very high contrast and image depth. How you perceive dynamic range and brightness is relative to the darkest point in the picture as well as your surroundings (how bright they are) which is why HDR often appears more impactful on OLED than on brighter LCD TVs that significantly raise blacks in HDR and suffer from blooming.
Newer LG TVs have the option to automatically trigger Filmmaker Mode for movies. This feature is now supported over HDMI and C2 automatically prompted us to turn on Filmmaker Mode while watching a movie from Apple TV 4K. In addition, auto-detection is supported for the built-in Amazon Prime Video app but not other apps to our knowledge. You can turn on and off Filmmaker Mode auto-detection in the settings. Continued efforts by LG to expand the Alpha 9 processor's capabilities have introduced "AI" picture modes and other enhancement systems that we prefer to turn off, but also slightly improved upscaling of low-resolution sources this year. LG's motion system, TruMotion, has been improved in recent years and again in 2022 (low settings now produce less artefacts). It also does a decent job at counteracting some of the motion issues caused by, and inherent in, low-frame rate content such as 24fps movies including the 'stroboscopic' effect in bright 24fps movie scenes. As a gaming TV, C2 delivers the same input lag of approximately 13 ms on a 60Hz input as last year's C1. You get lower input lag with 120Hz and VRR input and due to the TV makers' continued efforts in recent years to bring down latency, input lag in TVs is increasingly becoming a function of the input signal frequency. In other words, we need to move to 120Hz (and higher in the future) and VRR input from PCs and game consoles to bring down input lag further.
C2 still features four HDMI 2.1 ports with support for 4K120 input in HDR10 and Dolby Vision (LG is the only brand to support 4K120 Dolby Vision) as well as other gaming-related HDMI systems such as ALLM that automatically switches into Game Mode with a PS5 or Xbox. Unlike zone-dimming LCD TVs, OLED TVs retain their great picture quality while gaming as the picture parameters are inherent to the OLED panel – no compensation systems required – which means you get super fast response time, great colors, extremely high contrast and the same HDR peak brightness while gaming as in other use cases. LG's SDR and HDR 'Game' modes are not as accurate as we had hoped but with some tweaks you can get there. Also note that LG's other picture profiles can run in a Game mode to bring down latency if you use ALLM with a compatible game console (and activate Instant Game Response from your LG TV's menu: Picture - Additional Settings). Another advantage is that LG has a Game mode for Dolby Vision, unlike many of its competitors.
On the other hand, LG has removed support for 120Hz BFI (Black Frame Insertion) under the 'OLED Motion' setting (there is no longe a 'Pro' option) meaning that you can no longer use black frame insertion beyond 60Hz frequency. In our opinion it is not a big loss because OLED Motion introduced a significant drop in brightness, especially in HDR, and some flicker. LG's 2022 models also still suffer from raised blacks and flicker in VRR as this is inherent to the LG Display OLED panel, meaning it affects all WOLED TVs from all brands. LG offers a setting option to fine-tune dark areas as part of its Game Optimizer menu and although this can help mitigate the effect, the issue persists to some degree and you will have to accept a less accurate picture. We are still waiting for a real solution. Despite these issues we still regard LG's OLED TVs including C2 as one of the best gaming TVs on the market.
LG Display's OLED panels continue to suffer from panel inhomogeneity such as banding or colored/darker areas, although things have improved since the first generations. Our sample had slightly brighter edges and a mild reddish tint in the left side, as seen in the photos below. It varies from sample to sample so our findings in this area do not apply to your model. The only thing we can say for certain is that LG Display still needs to improve panel homogeneity on its OLED TV panels. On a related note, we noticed slightly less "pixel noise" in the darkest grey tones on C2 as compared to previous year's models, but it persists in some form and it is one of the reasons why LG's OLED still struggle with shadow details. LG DIsplay's OLED TV panels have very wide viewing angles so you can enjoy the picture with very little color change from almost any angle. Contrast remains high even from extreme angles.

Conclusion

LG C2 is the successor to C1 and it now comes with 'OLED Evo with Brightness Booster' which is promoted as delivering higher brightness. However, in our tests C2 actually delivered lower brightness than C1 on 25-100% windows – up to 160 nits less (25% windows) – while peak brightness remains intact at around 750 nits.
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Brightness is of course just one picture parameter and in most other regards C2 matches or surpasses C1. It is close to reference-level picture quality. C2 delivers very accurate colors out of the box, excellent SDR, beautiful HDR, deep blacks in both dark and bright environments, and convincing gaming performance with low input lag and HDMI 2.1 for up to 4K120 Dolby Vision, although the VRR issues remain. We still consider LG's OLED TVs some of the best gaming TVs on the market. LG C2 is considerably lighter than last year's C1 – a reduction of almost 50% – and we like the new design with a textured back, which makes the TV look more exclusive. The black remote control on the other hand still looks and feels like a cheap plastic clicker. We are still not fans of the redesigned full-screen webOS interface with ads and sponsored content "recommendations" which has replaced the elegant webOS bottom bar. New features such as user profiles and an 'Always Ready' Gallery mode did change our opinion. Furthermore, LG will still not commit to bringing major webOS upgrades to its TVs so C2 will be stuck on webOS 22. All in all, LG C2 is still an excellent OLED TV that now comes in 42, 48, 55, 65, 77 and 83 inches. If you already own a recent OLED TV there is no point in upgrading unless you want a bigger screen, but if you are in the market for a new screen LG C2 should be on your short list as one of the best OLED TVs out there. It deserves our Highly Recommended Award.
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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.

Excellent SDR and 4K HDR
Pre-calibrated picture modes
HDMI 2.1 ports & features
Gaming performance
New 42" size


Lower brightness than C1
Fullscreen webOS feels like a downgrade
webOS not receiving updates
Raised blacks / flicker in VRR







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