Technology

LG C8 OLED TV Review

I predicted early this year that the LG C8 OLED would wind up being my pick for TV of the year. LG’s E8 series OLED was the first TV to hit my test bench in 2018 and since I expected the C8 series would deliver similar picture quality and user experience for less money, it felt like a safe bet. Now that I’ve had a chance to test the best of the best from Sony, Samsung, TCL, and Vizio, I’m pleased to officially report that the LG C8 series OLED is Digital Trends’ pick for best TV of the year – and likely for at least the first half of 2019, too.

Sure, the less expensive LG B8 series OLED is a highly compelling choice as well – who doesn’t like to save money? But for a small premium, the C8 offers an irresistible blend of the best picture quality we’ve tested to date, sleek design, superior processing, choice in screen size, and availability.

Meet your new TV

If you find yourself the soon-to-be-proud owner of a brand-new LG C8 OLED TV, call a friend or five over before unboxing the TV. There’s nothing quite like the experience of unboxing an OLED TV – the stunningly thin profile never gets old, even for those of us who have gone through the process several times over the past four years – and we think it is something best shared. You’ll want those buddies around when you light the TV up for the first time, too.

LG C8 OLED TV
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Setting up a C8 OLED is a piece of cake, thanks in part to a new stand design, but also because the TV is so light and because LG’s WebOS 4.0 is among the most intuitive TV operating systems available today. Unless you’re going to wall mount this TV, you can expect to be gawking at the C8’s incredible picture in about 10 minutes.

With four HDMI inputs (HDMI 2 for HDMI ARC), you’ve got enough room for a game console or two, cable/satellite box, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, or whatever else you would like to connect. Given so many cable and satellite services offer internet apps for streaming subscription TV services, you could probably just skip the cable or satellite box and use that input for something else.

Living with the C8 OLED

Speaking of streaming: If you were thinking about connecting a Roku or Fire TV device or doing most of your streaming through a gaming console, we’d urge you to reconsider. Part of what makes the LG C8 OLED such a great TV is WebOS 4.0 and all the streaming apps and features that come with it. Thanks to LG’s ThinQ A.I. integration, the TV can be controlled with either Google Assistant or Alexa-enabled smart speakers, voice control is available through the TV’s remote, and support exists for HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos (passed through HDMI ARC) when available from compatible streaming apps. It’s tough to find a third-party piece of hardware that can pull off all those tricks and do it so seamlessly.

WebOS 4.0 is also getting better at finding what you want to watch and where to watch it. While it took a while to catch up to the likes of Roku, LG’s content search system now returns a wide array of viewing options based on subscriptions. It hasn’t yet figured out how to poll streaming live TV services like Sling TV and DirecTV Now for their live and on-demand programming options, but we have hope that’s a feature we’ll see in the near future.

If there’s any part of LG’s C8 OLED TV that doesn’t feel fantastically futuristic, it’s the remote control. Remaining largely unchanged over the past few years, LG’s Magic Motion remote is starting to lose its luster. The Nintendo Wii-like motion aspect remains handy for speeding up username and password entry, but that’s the limit of its benefit over more conventional up-down-left-right-enter cursor-based navigation. Granted, the Magic Motion offers the latter as an option, but every time the remote is picked up, the little pink pointer appears on screen and doesn’t disappear until other buttons are pressed – a minor annoyance, but annoying nonetheless.

The remote also feels unnecessarily cluttered with buttons. Do we really need numerical keys in this day and age? Put our bid in for a more stylish, simplified, and slimmed-down remote in 2019!

With those minor quibbles noted, we have to say that the C8 OLED is among the most pleasurable TVs to live with available today. Only Samsung’s Tizen OS could be considered much better, and even then it’s a matter of preference over a very thin margin.

Get a soundbar

LG’s stand design for the C8 OLED isn’t just meant to look good while holding the TV upright on a TV stand, it’s meant to help reflect the sound coming out of the TV from down-firing speakers out toward viewers. It’s a clever idea, and we suppose it helps some with dialog clarity, but frankly a TV of this caliber deserves sound quality that matches its picture quality. Nothing sucks the excitement out of a gorgeously displayed movie like underwhelming sound quality. To be clear, the TV’s speakers are fine for watching the news or a sitcom or game show, but for any kind of engrossing content, we suggest listening through a soundbar or some other external speaker system. Fortunately, we’ve got a bunch of great suggestions for soundbars right here.

But that picture, though!

You’ve seen the 5-star rating, you’ve seen the Editor’s Choice award, you’ve heard that Caleb Denison’s love affair with OLED TVs borders on unhealthy — but is the LG C8 really that great of a TV?

Yes. Yes, it is.

I’m aware that, as a TV reviewer, I may come off as an elitist, and I’ll be the first to admit I am extremely lucky to have a job where the best of the best TVs magically appear in my office so I can spend day after day sitting down and critically analyzing them. But at the end of day, I go home and experience TV like everyone else does. My kids hijack the TV for annoying children’s programming all the time. When I’m lucky, I get to watch a basketball game or two. I like to binge Ozark and Better Call Saul as much as anyone and, no, I’m not sitting there thinking about peak luminance in certain HDR spectral highlights – well, at least not all the time. Mostly, I just like watching TV.

LG C8 OLED TV
Riley Young/Digital Trends

It may come as a surprise that I don’t own an OLED TV. Truth be told, one of my main TVs is a plasma that I’ve had for several years, and I don’t watch it very often because there are constantly new TVs coming in and out of my household all year long. It just doesn’t make much sense to spend a bunch of money on a TV I won’t get to enjoy very often, but you can bet your breeches that if I was buying a TV this year, there is no question that it would be a 65-inch LG C8 OLED.

I’m not the only one in my household watching TV. Other, less technically savvy people use my TV all the time, so it is imperative they are not only capable of finding what they want to watch or switching over to play a game on the Xbox One S, but that they enjoy the process. LG’s C8 OLED offers that approachability, and I would argue approachability is second only to picture quality.

When it comes to picture quality, the LG C8 OLED totally rules. Perfect black levels meet rich and bursting colors accented by dazzling HDR highlights and 4K resolution, providing a deeply satisfying and dimensionally engaging TV- and movie-watching experience. The picture quality is so good that I will often skip going to see a flick at the movies because I’d rather experience it for the first time on an OLED TV.

During my testing, I pitted the LG C8 against Samsung’s excellent Q9FN and Sony’s highly competitive A9F OLED. The Samsung Q9FN offers a very compelling user experience, and it is a much brighter television with very respectable black levels for an LCD TV and outstanding color right out of the box. The Sony A9F is an equally impressive OLED with Sony’s excellent processing backing it up – a TV I would consider a treat to watch every day. Still, the LG C8 OLED beat out both competing models as my favorite. The C8 is far less expensive than the A9F, and I’ll take WebOS over Android TV any day. And while the Samsung Q9FN is bolder and brighter, I can’t get away from the C8’s perfect black levels.

LG C8 OLED TV
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Of course, it is impossible to write an OLED TV review without addressing the concern of burn-in and image retention, so let me restate what I wrote in my LG E8 OLED TV review:

There are a few viewers for whom the LG E8 OLED is not a good fit. Here are a few personas that fit that profile:

If you turn on a news channel like CNN or Fox News and leave that station playing literally all day, several days a week, then you need an LED/LCD TV. OLED is not built for that kind of use. If you do treat an OLED TV that way, you will get a sort of burn-in effect and will see the ghost of a news ticker laying over everything you watch – it’s not fun.

The same goes for those who play one video game title with the same static images on-screen for hours at a time, several days a week. No OLED for you. Go get an LED/LCD TV. May we suggest one of these?

If, however, you watch a lot of mixed content – even if you do camp on a single channel or video game for a couple of hours a day – the LG C8 should absolutely be in your top three TVs for consideration. It’s great in any room, in just about every use-case scenario.

Warranty information

LG offers a one-year warranty on parts and labor. This is a TV for which one might want to consider an extended warranty add-on, considering most TVs tend to break in the second year if they are going to break at all. More information on LG’s warranty for this TV can be found here.

Our Take

The LG C8 OLED TV is the best TV you can buy this year thanks to stellar picture quality, excellent ease of use, rich features, and a relatively approachable price point.

Is there a better alternative?

For those needing an exceedingly bright TV and those concerned about burn-in, a top-tier Samsung QLED or LG Super UHD TV make solid options. For the absolute best performance, however, the LG C8 OLED TV is the hottest ticket in town.

How long will it last?

LG claims its OLED TV panels offer a 100,000-hour half-life. It’s a safe bet one would want to purchase a newer TV to catch up with the latest technologies long before the C8 OLED’s performance starts taking a dive. We figure this TV will be impressing owners for at least 7 years before their eyes start to wander.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If the LG C8 OLED is within your means, absolutely buy this TV.


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