Year after year after year, OLED TVs steal our "best" awards and #1 spots, and for very good reason. The not-so-fledgling-anymore panel technology delivers key ingredients—perfect black levels, huge viewing angles, and vivid color—to make pretty much any content look amazing.
Last year, LG unveiled a pretty substantive line of "7" branded 4K/HDR OLEDs, such as the W7 flagship, E7, C7 (our #1 TV right now), and B7/B7A. What we discovered after a year of testing various models was that all that really differentiated them were design elements and audio compatibility/power. The picture quality of the cheapest B7 was roughly identical to the much pricier W7.
That's what makes the C8 so exciting—it's essentially the same TV as the "signature" flagship W8 OLED, but going off last year's pricing scheme, will be multiple thousands of dollars less expensive while still delivering roughly all of the same core features.
About the LG C8
LG's C8 series will be available in three screen sizes this year:
• 55-inch (LG OLED55C8), pricing not yet confirmed
• 65-inch (LG OLED65C8), pricing not yet confirmed
• 77-inch (LG OLED77C8), pricing not yet confirmed
Obviously, the biggest change compared to last year's C7 series is the addition of the humongous 77-inch size. This is LG's response to consumers who wanted a bigger OLED, but didn't want to pay premiums for the higher-end series just to get things like included soundbars or fancier stands.
Each of the C8 TVs features these specs:
• 4K resolution
• Support for four major HDR formats
• webOS smart platform (with ThinQ/Google Assistant)
• Dolby Atmos playback support
• Likely 4 HDMI, 3 USB, standard connectivity
• A9 picture processing engine
The Alpha 9 processor is what primarily separates the C8 series from the more affordable B8 series, though the latter also likely will not offer a 77-inch size.
What We Like
Simply good picture
The C8 is LG's entry-level OLED, meaning it strips out most of the "bells and whistles" to just deliver amazing picture quality. LG didn't even have the poor C8 on display at its CES booth, but had relegated it to the screen docked in one of the company's new soundbars for a sound demo. So the pictures in this review aren't entirely design accurate: the C8 will ship with a plain tabletop stand, like last year's C7.
But design elements aside, there's no denying that the 4K/HDR picture on display here looks just as good as every other OLED at LG's booth this year. Last year's sets ratcheted up the HDR impact, hitting around 700 nits of brightness (which is a ton when your relative black level is liker 0.0005 nits). Much of the HDR-appointed wide "DCI-P3" color space was covered as well.
Unfortunately, it's pretty hard to get a good look at this TV or any of its features right now. It's blasted with light and reflecting sources in the LG audio booth, and most of the time isn't even playing images, serving instead as a stand-in for Dolby Atmos content.
But horrible conditions or not, I could tell the C8 looks every bit as good as LG's other 4K/HDR OLEDs for 2018.
webOS, Alpha 9, ThinQ—all of it is welcome
As I said, I have barely gotten the chance to use or interact with the C8, other than watching a few minutes of Game of Thrones and some snippets from other Dolby Vision/Dolby Atmos content during its demo at the LG booth.
But judging from LG's coverage of the A9 processor's advantages during our time with the flagship W8, the "AI TV" aspect of the 2018 lineup and the new picture-perfecting A9 processor are only boons to a TV like the C8, which we'd recommend even if it had no smart features at all.
What We Don't Like
It's impossible to observe or try out enough of this TV to commentate on flaws right now. I'm really hoping it comes out cheaper than last year's excellent C7 (despite being improved in almost every way), but we won't know more until we get one into our lab and LG confirms pricing.
Should You Buy It?
While we can't make a definitive recommendation until we get this TV in for testing, if you didn't buy a 2017 OLED, the 2018 C8 is going to be one of the best if not the best options this year.
It's the most affordable of LG's Alpha 9 processor-equipped 4K/HDR OLED line, meaning you're not paying extras for fancy stands or included soundbars if you don't want them, getting the distilled "flagship" picture in a simple and more affordable package.
Check back in a few months when we update this review with full lab results and evaluations.