A lot of us have spent a LOT of time at home over the last year or two. And we’ve been paying more attention to our appliances since they’ve been getting plenty of use. I know quite a few folks who finally upgraded to a 4K TV, and if you’re shopping around for one, you might be wondering if an OLED TV is the best option, specifically LG’s C1 OLED 4KTV, and this one here is the 55” size. In this review I’ll look at what OLED TV is and why it’s supposed to be so great, how well I think the TV performs, how its speaker sounds, and how its special features like art or Gallery Mode hold up. I will also talk about the Gallery Stand which is an add-on feature.
Review: LG 4K OLED C1 TV
Let’s get our first look a the 55” LG C1 OLED TV. This TV is a beauty, receiving high ratings and acclaim from all corners of the internet. LG markets it as combining style, performance, and usability into a must-have TV.
LG C1 OLED TV: Design & looks
The LG C1 features a sleek look, thanks to its bezel-free design, with only a few millimeters between the edge of the display and the picture itself; this means all you see is picture, and it fills your field of view. It coms with a small silver stand which you can use if you opt not to upgrade to a wall mount or the Gallery Stand.
LG Gallery Stand: is it worth it?
The LG Gallery stand is a separately sold stand that is meant to create an elegant look since the TV is free standing, anchored on only a single post with three legs.
There’s supposed to be cable management built into the stand but kind of comically, the cable if far too short to run out the legs and still make it to a wall outlet.
There’s also an optional companion bracket to hold other small devices, you can set the TV up in the center of a room without worrying about it toppling over. The design adds a touch of elegance that won’t be out of place at a seminar, lobby, or your living room.
Since we’re on the topic here I’ll finish up with my thoughts about the stand; it’s easy to set up, it looks good, but it has a few downsides. For starters, the footprint is wide: in order to keep the TV from a faceplant, the base has to be wide and this measures about 4-feet across at its widest, so you do need a dedicated space where it won’t get tripped on; no small task in my living room.
The other factor that will be a deal breaker for many is that you can’t add a soundbar to this stand; here you will only be able to rely on the TV’s internal speakers, or you’ll need another solution for your home theatre audio.
Internal speaker sound quality
Since we’re on that topic, the sound from the internal speakers is actually pretty good. Even so, in my opinion, you’re not buying a TV like this and putting it on a stand like this to get audio that’s just pretty good. I always advocate for a sound bar with a high resolution 4K TV and with this showpiece, you really need one.
But since that’s not an option in this configuration, I can simply say the sound is good and a lot of folks will probably be okay with it. The speakers are downward-firing under the front side of the TV so it’s a challenge getting the audio to the viewer. I did notice that on dialogue-heavy shows I needed to crank it to 70 to be able to hear clearly.
LG has added AI Sound, which supposedly upscales the audio and separates the voice from the background better for clearer sound, but I didn’t notice anything that wowed me.
Ports and plug-ins
On the hardware side, the LG C1 has four HDMI ports that will support 4K input and three USB ports, an RF tuner, and an optical digital audio output. It supports WiFi as well as Bluetooth. It also has a coaxial connector and an Ethernet port.
LG C1 screen is impossibly thin
The TV screen is thinner than most smartphones and has a larger housing towards the base of the screen, which helps weigh down the TV and prevent toppling over.
Use Gallery Mode to prevent Black Hole Syndrome
If it bothers you to have a blank screen in the room when you’re not using the TV, LG C1 has Gallery Mode, which is a setting that shows artwork and pictures, all stored directly on LGs servers. You just need an internet connection, and the TV handles the rest. The system will change the picture up periodically to avoid any image burn-in on the screen while displaying thought-provoking works of art.
I love the concept of Gallery Mode, but in my opinion LG doesn’t get it right. You can’t choose one picture to keep up at all times; you must rotate through them, and you can’t even seem to narrow down the choices to a handful of options or styles; it’s all or nothing. Unlike something like a Samsung Frame TV you also can’t customize any of the frames, or works; what LG gives you is all you get.
I also couldn’t see that there was any way to upload your own photos or artwork if you wanted to. That’s a big disappointment since this is a feature other TVs have added. Overall, if I were to add this LG TV to my living room, a big reason I’d want it is for Gallery Mode’s ability to make it disappear, but since it’s limited in its customization, I think this alone would make it a dealbreaker for me.
With all that said, the photos and art look great on screen and seem super high-res.
LG C1: Video picture quality is outstanding
If you’re not buying the TV to hide in plain sight, Gallery Mode will be less of a downside for you. So let’s dig in on what’s truly important and that’s the video picture.
When buying a TV, you want to be sure you’re getting the latest and greatest technology available. LG provides this with their OLED line.
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. Light Emitting Diodes are actually tiny electrically-conductive nibs made up of crystals suspended in liquid between two two sheets of material; often glass or flexible plastic.
An electric current passes through the liquid crystals, and that gets the crystals to line up so light either does or does not filter through. When they line up in large groups, they form a display panel, where areas of either colour, darkness and light form video pictures.
In the LG C1 OLED TV there are self-lit pixels. LG says a self-luminous display makes all the difference to your viewing experience. Unlike LED/LCD TVs that are restricted by backlight technology, LG OLED TVs are capable of “extreme realism” and thin design. They can also achieve what LG calls Perfect Black since the pixel is lit or not and light doesn’t bleed out over a wider area across multiple pixels. It also means you should see more Intense Colour and realistic contrast.
Why am I getting static on startup with my LG TV?
I did run into a rather bizarre problem where any time I would turn the TV on, it would boot up with static. The default choice for this TV appears to be to turn on and default to a cable input, and since I don’t have cable, I have nothing to connect to it. I thought this would simply be a matter of switching the input so the TV would boot up to an unused HDMI input, but that didn’t work either.
It took me forever to finally figure this out and it’s a bit of a process so if you want to see how to do it, check out my blog and video, How to get rid of static on an LG TV.
Gaming enhancements: LG C1 TV
LG is also marketing this TV heavily to gamers. There’s a new Game Optimizer setting built-in, allowing you to get optimal video from your choice of video games. The C1 can handle 4K 120 Hz input, meaning you should see less motion blur, more realism and a smoother playing experience. The TV is also NVIDIA G-SYNC Compatible, with VRR, ALLM.
LG webOS operating system and interface
LG’s TV operating system is known as webOS; and for you and me that just means how we’ll interact with the screen, including the menus and shortcuts. For the most part webOS works well and everything is within easy reach.
WebOS6 will offer up top picks based on viewing habits, show you your most-used apps and services for easy selection, show sports updates, and even provide a weather forecast. There’s also a search feature to find things that aren’t obvious.
WebOS6 also contains a full web browser, and since you already have a pointing device with the remote, you’re all set to browse away.
It also provides the ability to use LG’s ThinQ AI, which recognizes patterns and habits to provide easier access to features and content ( I didn’t have this for very long so I didn’t give it a chance to try to learn my habits during the testing period).
If you’re not using Alexa or Google Assistant, ThinQ will handle all voice commands. ThinQ products can also communicate with one another, so you can explore possible synergies with other appliances if you’re an LG household.
The LG Magic Remote and remote app
The LG C1 comes with the ‘Magic Remote,’ allowing you to control screen commands by waving the remote (think the Wii controller). It also allows you to use the directional buttons to navigate and has a scroll wheel. There are dedicated buttons for streaming services like Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime.
The remote contains a microphone, and there are also buttons (and underlying support) for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, allowing you to create routines and commands and use voice support with the TV. Users can also touch their devices to the remote to stream video on the C1 instantly.
The remote works great, through I find the waving motions to be imprecise and kind of awkward and ended up defaulting to the scroll wheel and buttons.
Overall review: LG C1 OLED smart 4K TV
I have mixed feeling about this TV. Let’s get to the pros:
The screen is out of this world; it’s big, has almost no bezel, it’s sharp, colourful and ultra clear. Watching TV and movies on it is an absolute joy. There’s no fault I can find with the video experience.
Where my mixed feelings come in is with the extras; Gallery Mode feels like an afterthought and that you are stuck with the factory option and can’t customize it is a huge disappointment. The gallery stand is too big for all but the most spacious homes and the fact it can’t take a sound bar is a problem for a lot of serious viewers and audiophiles.
The static on start up and the fact you can’t get rid of the error message telling you you have no cable mars the rest of the user experience too.
In my experience, the LG C1 TV is best used on a stand or a wall mount, with a sound bar and a cable TV hookup.
So… if you’re looking for a TV with a great screen and you have a cable box to hook up, you found it. If you want all the other bells, whistles, settings and customizable options—and you don’t have cable and are hoping to reply on streaming (and you don’t want static or error messages all over the screen), you’re better off to keep looking.
The LG C1 4K OLED TV sells for about $1899CAD for the 48” size and goes up from there.
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