World-class picture quality
A top-tier gaming TV
Not as bright as top-shelf QLED TVs
Slight off-angle color shift
The C2 isn’t that much better than its predecessor, but the manners in which it improves upon the C1 are calculated and exhaustive. It features LG’s OLED evo display technology, which was only officially available in the company’s tippy-top Gallery model last year. OLED evo succeeds at what it sets out to do: improve brightness and color volume. How it improves brightness is fascinating, however, and not at all what I expected.
Shows and movies will look terrific on the C2—as good or better than on any other commercially available TV I’ve seen yet. Critically, the C2 is an absolute beast of a gaming TV, too, offering everything you could possibly need right now for next-gen gaming.
There are a couple of minor caveats. Despite a boost in brightness, the C2’s OLED panel still isn't the best fit for bright living spaces and you might also find that its price tag is too rich for your taste. However, If you can afford to splash out on a premium TV, it doesn't get much better than the C2. The pricier G2 might be the best LG OLED we've ever seen (we did an in-depth comparison of the two LG TVs), but the C2 is our current pick for the best TV for most people.
September 8, 2022 Update: Links to our G2 review and a comparison between the C2 and G2 have been added.
About the LG C2
The LG C2 is available in six total size options ranging from 42 inches all the way up to 83 inches. Our review unit is a 55-inch model that we purchased online.
Here’s how the lineup shakes out in terms of pricing:
- 42-inch (LG OLED42C2PUA), MSRP $1,399.99
- 48-inch (LG OLED48C2PUA), MSRP $1,499.99
- 55-inch (LG OLED55C2PUA), MSRP $1,799.99
- 65-inch (LG OLED65C2PUA), MSRP $2,499.99
- 77-inch (LG OLED77C2PUA), MSRP $3,499.99
- 83-inch (LG OLED83C2PUA), MSRP $5,499.99
While we don’t expect there to be major performance differences between most of these sizes, LG has confirmed that the 42- and 48-inch models will not offer the same brightness-boosting benefits found in the 55-, 65-, 77-, and 83-inch models. This is due to the sheer pixel density of these two smaller models, which apparently makes it harder for LG’s Brightness Booster technology to work its magic. That said, the adorable 42-inch model (new to the lineup) is sure to be a hit with gamers.
With sizing and pricing out of the way, let’s take a look at the specs:
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- Display type: OLED
- HDR support: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
- Dolby Atmos: Yes, (native decoding)
- eARC support: Yes
- Native refresh rate: 120Hz
- Smart platform: web OS 22
- Color: DCI-P3 color space/10-bit chroma resolution
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): Yes
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes
- Processor: a9 Gen 5 AI Processor 4K
- Other features: FreeSync, G-Sync, Game Optimizer, Google Stadia, Filmmaker Mode, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple AirPlay 2, hands-free voice control
The C2 ships with LG’s Magic Remote, and it’s more or less the exact same version that came with LG’s OLED TVs last year. The Magic Remote can be used traditionally (with navigational functions inputted via the directional pad), or it can be used like a motion-activated wand (with an on-screen cursor tracking your hand movements).
My only complaints about the Magic Remote experience are that its lack of backlit buttons makes it tough to read in the dark and that some of its buttons produce a surprisingly loud click. Other than that, it’s a joy to use.
The C2 also features a built-in, far-field microphone for hands-free voice control, but this functionality is limited to Alexa and LG’s digital assistant.
The newest version of LG’s smart platform, webOS 22, is similar to last year’s version. From a dedicated home screen, users can navigate a wide variety of streaming apps like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Prime Video, HBO Max and more. There are surplus apps available for download, too, should you decide to make webOS your streaming command center.
Navigating webOS is mostly straightforward, but you will have to contend with a significant amount of sponsored content. Luckily, both webOS and the C2’s onboard menu software move at a zippy pace—no doubt a benefit of the C2’s powerful processing chip. Overall, it’s a perfectly adequate software experience, but I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to pair the C2 with a dedicated streaming device.
When it comes to inputs, the C2 is loaded for bear: All four of its HDMI ports support 4K resolution at 120Hz.
Here’s what you’ll find on the back of the panel alongside the TV’s chassis:
- 4x HDMI 2.1 (4K @ 120Hz, 1x HDMI ARC/eARC)
- 3x USB 2.0
- RF connection (cable/antenna)
- Ethernet (LAN) input
- Digital audio output (optical)
Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 24 hours, allowing the pixels plenty of time to warm up. Our 55-inch C2 received this standard warm-up time before any readings were taken. In addition, the TV received the latest firmware updates at the time of testing.
For both SDR and HDR tests, we’re using the C2’s Cinema picture mode. We’ve chosen this setting because of its accuracy, but performance may vary depending on which picture mode is enabled. For example, you might experience a brighter picture with different settings enabled, but it may interfere with color temperature and overall color accuracy.
For additional context, I also conducted our HDR tests in the TV’s Cinema Home picture mode and SDR tests in the TV’s ISF Expert (Bright Room) picture mode. These test results are not reported below. Cinema Home increases the C2’s HDR brightness by a hair, but it also shifts the TV’s white point (and some of its secondary color points) closer to blue. In other words, it’s not just a brighter version of LG’s standard Cinema picture mode—it also balances the color temperature for warm lighting.
To get a sense for the TV’s average performance, we use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests. We also use white and black windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.
Our peak brightness measurements are taken with sustained windows to represent the TV’s peak brightness over a sustained period of time. Specular highlights (like brief flashes of reflected light) might reach higher brightness levels, but not for sustained periods of time.
All of our tests are created with a Murideo Seven 8K signal generator and tabulated via Portrait Displays’ Calman Ultimate color calibration software.
I'll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:
• HDR contrast (brightness/black level): 222.9 nits/0.001 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• SDR contrast (brightness/black level): 336.7 nits/0.001 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• HDR peak brightness (sustained): 770.5 nits (10% white window)
• HDR color gamut coverage (DCI-P3/10-bit): 97%
• SDR color gamut coverage (Rec.709): 100%
Interestingly, while displaying a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern and receiving an SDR signal, the C2 offers a brighter overall picture than when that very same pattern is being displayed in HDR. I’ll expand on this finding shortly, but it should not be interpreted as evidence that SDR content gets brighter than HDR content on the C2. Rather, it has to do with how the C2 allocates its brightness depending on what else is happening in an HDR scene.
Throughout our tests, the C2’s OLED Pixel Brightness setting was maxed out at 100. Its Peak Brightness setting was set to High, its Gamma setting was fixed at 2.2, and all motion enhancement software (including Real Cinema) was disabled. All other settings (Color Depth, Black Level, and color temperature) were kept at their default status for Cinema picture mode.
To enjoy the best and brightest picture, we highly recommend disabling the C2’s energy-saving feature. To do this, navigate the TV’s settings menu to the General tab, open the Energy Saving submenu, and set Energy Saving Step to its off position.
What we like
The C2 is brighter—though not in the way you might think
Last year, the LG G1 was the only TV in LG’s mainline OLED lineup that was confirmed to feature the company’s upgraded OLED display technology, OLED evo, which promised—among other things—a brighter picture. And while we did notice a slight difference in the G1’s brightness and overall color volume compared to the step-down LG C1,the difference was subtle.
This year, OLED evo isn’t just a G series exclusive; it’s also made its way into the C2. Naturally, the question on everyone’s mind is, “does the C2 get brighter than last year’s C1?” The answer is yes, but not in the way you might expect.
The C2 is one of the brightest OLED TVs we’ve tested to date—it’s roughly on par with the G1 and not quite as bright as the Sony A90J. While this makes it a brighter TV than its predecessor, if you were to actually put the C2 next to the C1 with the same content displayed on both, the difference might not be noticeable at first glance. So what’s going on here?
The C2, its OLED evo panel, and the TV’s a9 Gen 5 processor deliver brighter highlights in a very particular way. SDR content (cable TV broadcasts, most streaming content, and older Blu-rays) is, on the whole, brighter than it’s been on previous LG OLEDs. The entire picture has a little more oomph in SDR. This improvement can be seen in our test results: With a basic SDR checkerboard pattern on the screen, we clocked the C2’s brightness level at around 340 nits. On last year’s C1, the same checkerboard pattern produced a brightness level of around 130 nits. These measurements were taken while both TVs were in their Cinema picture mode.
In HDR, the story is a little different. The C2’s HDR brightness ceiling is just a hair higher than the C1’s (between 750 and 800 nits in Cinema mode). But how the C2 allocates that brightness is the real story. The C2 does a much better job showcasing small, concentrated pools of light. Picture elements like reflections, flames, and twinkling city skylines at night are where you’re most likely to notice the difference during HDR viewing.
The testing bears this out: In Cinema HDR mode, a 2% white window on the C1 produces a brightness level of around 350 nits. On the C2, that same 2% white window produces a brightness level of around 740 nits.
This means that, in general, you can expect to see an overall brighter picture on the C2 during casual, everyday viewing; broadcast TV, the majority of streaming content, and anything in SDR is bound to hold up a little better during the day. For HDR movies and games, the difference is a little more subtle. Rather than significantly lifting the brightness of the overall picture, the OLED evo technology (including LG’s image processing) seems to be focusing more on where and how its brightness is allocated.
In HDR, the area around a blinding flash of light, for example, might not seem much brighter on the C2 than it is on the C1, but the smaller area that represents the light’s source will almost certainly look brighter. This allows the C2 to create a wider gap between the brightest element (a light source) and the region of the picture just beyond the light source. In other words, the C2 does a better job than the C1 at differentiating “very bright” and “ absolute brightest.” This greatly improves picture detail during scenes that depict swaths of bright elements.
The C2 is unquestionably brighter than the C1, but the circumstances in which it makes a significant difference are quite specific. Make no mistake, however: I am not disappointed by this outcome. The benefits of OLED evo are apparent, so long as you understand that the technology isn’t going to deliver a huge leap in overall HDR brightness.
That said, there are other ways in which the C2 manages to look better than its predecessor.
Incredible picture processing
One of the things I almost always watch when testing a new TV is the opening sequence to Our Planet on Netflix. I make time for it because I find it to be an intensive test for new TVs; it starts with white-on-black text (which could reveal light bloom), then pushes into a shot of Earth from orbit as it spins across the screen (a fantastic way to size up a TV’s motion handling). In addition, when the Earth rotates during this sequence, its land masses move out of night and into day. City lights are depicted in the nighttime hemispheres, which also give me a sense of how bright a TV is able to push tiny pinpoints of light surrounded by darkness.
Unsurprisingly, the C2’s self-emissive nature had no problems limiting light bloom during the opening credits—perfect black levels and flawless contrast control are an OLED TV’s bread and butter, after all. Its motion handling, too, appeared flawless, with very little judder and almost no artifacts to speak of—another unsurprising development.
But then it happened.
As Earth began to throw its nighttime regions into daylight, the sparkling network of city lights I had seen countless times before began to look different. They were popping off the screen to a degree I’d not seen before, and I felt like I was watching 3D content without 3D glasses. I quickly scribbled down some thoughts: “Trippy.”
Our Planet is mastered for Dolby Vision, a premium HDR format that the C2 supports. I decided to explore more Dolby Vision content to see if other titles looked as… well, trippy.
Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog had an equally stimulating look, as certain sequences provided so much depth as to be visually arresting. The movie—what with its sweeping vistas and phenomenal cinematography—is visually appealing to begin with, but it looked better on the C2 than I recall it looking on the C1 in my living room. The TV's clarity and sense of depth seemed to be the reason.
It wasn’t limited to Dolby Vision content, either. Just about every HDR title I watched featured sequences that appeared vaguely three-dimensional, or at the very least, popped in a way that I wasn’t expecting.
It was around this time that I started poring over LG’s press releases for the C2. I was convinced that something about the TV’s image processing software was giving the picture way more depth than I’d seen on an OLED TV before. Eventually, I found something buried in LG’s CES announcement that stopped me in my tracks:
”...the a9 Gen 5 [processor] leverages deep learning to enhance upscaling performance and give onscreen images a more three-dimensional quality by making foreground and background elements more distinct from one another.”
I was not primed for this effect. I’m not even sure I ever read that particular passage before this week. Something about the TV’s picture processing is giving the picture more depth than what I’m used to seeing on the LG C1, and reader, it looks terrific.
The C2’s secret sauce seems to be a blend of this picture processing magic and a penchant for driving brightness in small, concentrated areas of the picture.
Outstanding out-of-the-box color
Like the C series OLEDs that came before it, the LG C2 is capable of creating incredibly rich, dazzling-looking color, regardless of content type. Better still, should you decide to use the C2’s Cinema picture mode (or Filmmaker Mode, for that matter), you’ll be treated to incredibly accurate color, too.
The C2 offers 100% color saturation in SDR (Rec.709) and 97% color saturation in HDR (DCI-P3). There’s a near-complete lack of color pollution across the grayscale, and neutral tones during dimly lit sequences look especially sharp. In the best picture mode, the C2’s primary color points are expertly tuned right out of the box, so users can feel confident forgoing a professional calibration.
Perhaps the best gaming TV of the year
The LG C1 was our favorite gaming TV last year, and it’s going to be very difficult for another TV to come along and snatch the title away from the C2. If you own (or plan on owning) an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, the C2 is ready to be the peanut butter to their jelly.
All four of the C2’s inputs are full-bandwidth HDMI 2.1, meaning they support 4K gaming at 120 frames per second (fps). Because every single HDMI input is maxed out for gaming, you don’t need to worry about picking and choosing ports for your gaming devices. The C2 also supports both Auto Low Latency (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), with AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync along for the ride, too.
My favorite gaming feature is LG’s Game Optimizer, which is basically a gaming-specific settings menu that only appears when you’re using a console. Among other things, it relays frame rate information, lets you tweak the picture quality based on game genre, and toggles the TV’s various VRR options.
From a design standpoint, LG OLEDs are traditionally among the most head-turning in the industry; when a TV panel is thinner than most smartphones, it tends to elicit its fair share of oohs and aahs. OLED TVs don’t have to be this thin, but the very fact that they can be is worth showcasing. (To quote Zero Mostel, “when you’ve got it, flaunt it!”)
The C2’s show-stopping panel isn’t anything new, but everything around it has been subtly tweaked and refined, as though LG took a proverbial scalpel to the design meetings rather than a hammer. The corners of its panel are a bit more pronounced, giving it more of a boxy look than LG OLEDs of recent years—at least when inspected up close. The material on the backside of the panel is thinner, a bit clangier to the touch, and at first glance, perhaps a bit flimsy. I don’t mind the change, personally, as it seems to have shaved a considerable amount of weight off the entire package.
The most significant change over last year’s C1 design has to do with the TV’s pedestal stand. It still slopes downward, creating an eye-catching effect of the panel being gently lifted into the air, but it juts out far less than the C1’s stand. This creates more surface real estate for a soundbar, though it should be noted that, like the C1, the C2 still sits pretty low, so chunkier soundbars might block portions of the screen.
It’s a lighter, breezier design that doesn’t stray too far from what I appreciate about LG’s most recent C series’ designs. If you intend on purchasing the 42-inch model, be aware that it trades the pedestal stand for two narrow feet that prop up the C2 from its corners.
What we don’t like
Still a questionable proposition for bright rooms
OLED TVs are getting incrementally brighter with each passing year, but there’s no denying that souped-up, quantum dot-equipped LED TVs are still the reigning champion of bright-room viewing. While I was thrilled to see the C2 get as bright as it does, it won’t outshine high-end LED TVs like the Samsung Neo QLED, which get twice as bright or more on average.
If you’re committed to spending top-dollar on a TV and your living space is drenched in sunlight, I’d think carefully about putting that hard-earned money toward an OLED of any type. A top-shelf LED TV with high-octane brightness won’t deliver perfect black levels like an OLED, but it’ll hold up better in rooms that get a ton of natural or artificial light.
If your living space is relatively dim, or if you’re planning on putting your new TV in a darkened home theater, don’t sweat the relative lack of brightness; the C2 is plenty bright for these viewing environments.
Gets a little funky during off-angle viewing
OLED TVs are known for their industry-leading viewing angles, and the C2 is no exception. If you happen to be sitting three or four feet away from a direct, head-on viewing angle, the C2’s contrast won’t fall apart.
That said, I did notice a bit of weirdness when I viewed the color white from off-center. Whenever I had a 100% white screen displayed on the C2, the white would subtly shift into a very pale green as I moved about two feet away from a direct angle. By the time I got to an extreme off-angle position (about five feet away from the center), the subtle green had gone pink.
A few caveats: The initial green shift is far more subtle than the eventual pink shift, and I firmly believe that most people won’t even notice it. The pink shift, however, is far more pronounced. Still, I should stress that the pink shift really only happens at extreme angles, and I only witnessed this phenomenon happening when the C2 was displaying pure white. This isn’t something you’re likely to do outside of a test lab.
As to what is causing this very minor issue, it could be something to do with how OLED evo technology works, or it could have something to do with the screen’s anti-reflective coating. There’s also the possibility that this issue is better or worse depending on the panel you end up getting.
In any event, I’m not sure this is anything to worry about for most people, since I only really noticed it during off-angle viewing when the picture was mostly white. Picture purists should definitely take note, however.
No DTS means getting creative with Blu-rays
LG TVs quietly stopped supporting DTS audio in 2020, meaning A/V enthusiasts will need to think about their audio setup before pulling the trigger here. If you’re planning on connecting directly to the TV with a Blu-ray player—and you have a fair few Blu-rays with DTS soundtracks—you won’t be getting the full DTS experience. If you connect your player to an A/V receiver (or most upper-crest soundbars) first, however, this is little more than a point of note, since it will do the DTS audio decoding for you.
Should you buy it?
Yes—it’s one of the best TVs of the year.
If you were expecting the C2 to completely blow the C1 out of the water, you might walk away from it a touch disappointed. After all, it’s not that much brighter than last year’s models, and its features are mostly the same. But if you calibrate your expectations and accept that contemporary OLED displays have some inherent limitations, you’re bound to appreciate what LG has done with the C2. It doesn’t deliver a whole new experience, but the ways in which it tweaks the formula are clever and impressive.
The combination of brighter specular highlights and improved image processing gives the C2’s picture more depth than I’m used to seeing on the C1. For the most part, its performance is expertly calibrated right out of the box, and even though its colors lack the borderline-psychedelic quality of an upscale QLED TV, there’s plenty to marvel at. From a gaming standpoint, it checks quite literally all of the boxes. You won’t regret buying this TV for next-gen gaming. You’re covered for years to come.
So is it worth spending up on the C2, given the discounted price of the year-old LG C1? I think it might be, but only if you really want some of that secret sauce: the brighter highlights, the added depth and clarity.
Other than that, this is essentially the same experience as the C1. You get the same gaming features, a similar smart platform, and other than some minor tweaks, the same basic design. It’s the same burger you could buy last year, but this year, there’s a new sauce on it. And at the risk of using the word “sauce” too many times in a TV review, you’ve got to ask yourself whether or not this sauce is worth several hundred dollars.
Me? I love the sauce. And I want more of it.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Senior Staff Writer@Reviewed
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
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