We live in a golden age of television, both from a programming standpoint as well as a technological one. For me, the best display technology on the market today is OLED, and there are but two players in the space: LG and Sony. LG is the currently OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer, of all OLED TVs, so it stands to reason that the company would be king in the space. Well, yes and no. You see, while LG may provide the display technology, there is more to a display than just a panel, something Sony is quick to point out. Having recently reviewed not one but two Sony OLED displays, the A8F and the flagship A9F MASTER Series, it didn't seem possible (to me) that any display--even an OLED one--could upset that one-two punch. Enter the LG 65C8PUA OLED.
The OLED65C8PUA (C8) is LG's "third best" OLED offering, behind their flagship W8 SIGNATURE Series OLED and the E8 Series. All that being said, the C8 may just be where the rubber meets the road for LG, for on paper it seems to fall somewhere between Sony's A8F and MASTER Series in terms of specs, yet costs less than both of them at $2,799.99 for its 65-inch model at the time of writing. $2,799.99 is a price one might expect to see attached to a higher-end LED-backlit LCD or even a Quantum Dot based design, but not an OLED, and yet here we are.
The C8 comes in three sizes: 55, 65, and 77 inches diagonal, with the 65 inch being reviewed here. The 55-inch model sells for $1,999.99, with the 77-inch model topping out at $6,999.99 at the time of this writing. The 65-inch C8 is far and away the best-looking display I've reviewed in 2018 from purely a design point of view. Sure, the Sony MASTER Series is pretty damned gorgeous, but only if you use its kickstand-like stand, and only after a fair amount of assembly and hassle. The C8, on the other hand, is gorgeous and ready for exhibition at MoMA right out of the box.
The OLED65C8PUA measures 57 inches wide by 33 inches tall and a hair under two inches deep at its thickest point. It tips the scales at roughly 46 pounds without its included stand, and 56 pounds with it. Like most self-contained OLED displays, the C8 is thicker near the bottom than it is at the top. Roughly two-thirds of the display appears as if it is a single pane of glass with but a thin strip of black playing the role of bezel.
Around back and contained within an edge-to-edge hump, which is curved à la the walls of the Guggenheim, rests the C8's internal speakers and I/O ports. As far as inputs and outputs are concerned, the C8 has four HDMI inputs (HDCP 2.2) with the second HDMI input supporting ARC. There are three USB 2.0 inputs, an RF antenna/cable input, composite video input, Ethernet port, optical audio output, and an RS-232C mini jack.
The C8's panel boasts a native resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, also known as 4K/Ultra HD. It's compatible with four different flavors of HDR: Dolby Vision, Advanced HDR by Technicolor, HLG, and HDR10. The brains behind the display come in the form of LG's α9 Intelligent Processor, along with the webOS operating system. webOS is one of the key differentiators between the LG and Sony OLEDs, which rely upon AndroidTV. This is a good thing, as the C8's interface is snappier in every way, while still allowing for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integration. Obviously, Amazon Alexa devices are sold separately, but Google Assistant is built-in, and the TV will work with standalone Google Home devices, as well. Other wireless connection options include Bluetooth (4.2) and WiFi (802.11ac). There's also ATSC and Clear QAM tuners built-in. For more on the C8's other features, please visit the product page at LG's website.
The C8 arrived quite literally on the heels of the Sony MASTER Series OLED. Whereas the Sony was a bit of a beast to hang solo, the LG was not. Admittedly, hanging an OLED of any persuasion is a job better suited for two, though I was able to hang the C8 myself. The C8's sexy curves along its backside make handling it a little more of a chore compared to other TVs, but that's a small price to pay for such a well thought out design. Because the C8, like most OLEDs, is thicker near the base of the display, it puts the mounting points lower than what you'll find with LED/LCD displays--meaning an OLED may sit higher on your wall when compared to an LED/LCD display using the same mount.
Once on my wall, I connected the C8 to my Marantz NR1509 AV receiver via a single HDMI cable using its HDMI 2 input, which features ARC. I enabled HDMI CEC on both the Marantz and LG so that my entire setup, which also included a Roku Ultra, would easily and seamlessly be controlled by whatever remote was in hand, which typically belonged to the Roku.
Speaking of remotes--apparently there is a trend among display manufacturers to utilize a single remote across all of their products, and LG is no different. The remote that comes with the C8 is the same one you get with all LG OLED and Super UHD displays, as well as some standard UHD offerings. It's gesture based, meaning to navigate through many of the menus you use the remote much in the same way you would a laser pointer during an office presentation. Waving the remote side-to-side or up and down produces a cursor on the screen that follows in sync with your gestures. It takes some getting used to, and at first blush it's annoyingly cute. But after a while it's shockingly effective and rather zippy. I still wish the remote was a little nicer in terms of its build quality, but I cannot fault it outside of that. It's 100 percent functional and its interaction with the display is flawless.
I connected the C8 to my Google Home ecosystem as well, which allowed for hands-free voice activation of certain functions within the C8--mainly searching YouTube or YouTubeTV. Loudspeakers used during this review were from Davone Audio.
Once installed, connected, and powered up it was time to calibrate the C8. The Sony MASTER Series displays--OLED and LED alike--feature an auto calibration capability thanks to the good folks at SpectraCal. This doesn't mean that you can calibrate the Sony displays without specialty software and meters; it just means that with those tools, the software, and display can communicate with one another and do 99 percent of the heavy lifting for you. Thankfully, the LG C8 features similar functionality, though it is not widely advertised. Before I synced the C8 with SpectraCal, I took a few out-of-the-box measurements the old-fashioned way, i.e. manually.
I had reviewed another LG display, the SK9000, earlier this year and found that out of the box, in its Technicolor Expert picture profile, it was for all intents and purposes calibrated. I wanted to see if the same was true of the C8, so I measured its Technicolor profile out of the box and to my chagrin it was not. However, upon taking a series of initial measurements across all of the C8's picture profiles, I found a few to be close, and one to be near ideal. In truth, the C8's Cinema, Technicolor and ISF profiles all had near-perfect color measurements out of the box--it was their greyscales that lacked accuracy. However, in its Cinema profile, the C8 was the closest to correct, with Delta E under three with respect to its color, and a Delta E average of about four when it came to the greyscale.
Starting then with the Cinema profile, I connected the C8 to my CalMan software much in the same way I did with the Sony MASTER Series and set about auto calibrating the display. Unfortunately, I encountered a glitch in the software that impacted the greyscale measurements, resulting in a wildly inaccurate reading between the 15 and 35 percent PLUGE patterns--an area that measured far flatter out of the box or before the software began tweaking the white point automatically. I have since brought this to the attention of both LG and SpectraCal, who promised they are looking into it.
Resetting the software and the C8 itself returned everything to normal, and I set about calibrating the C8 manually. Post-calibration, I was able to dial the C8 quite nicely, with color accuracy carrying a Delta E of less than one and greyscale sitting at about one-and-a-half. In other words, the C8 measured similarly--if not identical--to that of Sony's MASTER Series OLED.
So, what does all this mean? Out of the box and in its Cinema profile, the C8 manages to be 90 to 95 percent calibrated, with plenty of light output for standard and HDR viewing. Post-calibration, the C8 can be made perfect (or as close to it as I've seen) with still more than enough light output for HDR viewing, with nearly 700 Nits on tap.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...
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