The LG C1 OLED is one of the most advanced televisions we’re likely to see in 2021.
As a follow-up to last year’s best TV, the LG C1 OLED remains one of the best TVs at any price point.
It lacks the new OLED Evo panels found in the G1 OLED, but even without them, the C1 produces vibrant, bright, and detailed images with support for most HDR formats.
While there are a few areas for improvement, the LG C1 OLED is the gold standard for OLED televisions in 2021.
- Beautiful 4K/HDR picture
- Four HDMI 2.1 ports
- WebOS is fantastic
- Reflective glass surface
- Reddish hues in faces
- No HDR10+
That is because LG has made several minor changes to the model from last year.
It now features LG’s Alpha a9 Gen. 4 processor for improved upscaling and virtual surround sound audio.
It comes equipped with four separate HDMI 2.1 ports, making it compatible with the PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and whatever next-gen consoles are released.
Gamers will also appreciate the new Game Optimiser menu, enabling on-the-fly adjustment of brightness, contrast, and VRR.
As with the previous model, you’ll find support for Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, both of which can be accessed via buttons on the remote, as well as a near-complete list of streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime Video.
The LG C1 is not without flaws, as we encountered issues with how the new Alpha a9 Gen. 4 upscales faces and how reflective the all-glass display is in direct sunlight, but these are minor.
Of course, higher-resolution TVs are available now, such as the LG Z1 OLED, which features 8K resolution, and the new LG G1 Gallery Series, which features the coveted OLED Evo panels for increased brightness.
However, we believe that the LG C1 OLED offers the best value for money and should be at the top of your list of potential TV purchases in 2021 and beyond.
After a recent firmware update, both the LG C1 and G1 OLED TVs now support Dolby Vision HDR at 4K/120Hz, which is excellent news for gamers.
Firmware version 03.15.27 is now “rolling out,” we’re told, making the two flagship LG OLEDs 2021 the world’s first TVs to support Dolby Vision HDR at this level of specification.
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Price and Release Date
- Available beginning in March 2021
- Available in 48-inch to 83-inch screen sizes
- Pricing starts at $1,499 / £1,699 (around ₱116,652)
The LG C1 OLED is part of LG’s 2021 TV lineup, including the LG A1 OLED, LG G1 OLED, and LG Z1 OLED, as well as new QNED televisions such as the QNED99, QNED95, QNED90, and QNED85.
The LG C1 is the line’s most affordable OLED display, powered by the new Alpha a9 Gen. 4 processor (the A1 OLED will be cheaper but uses the a7 processor).
However, it is not relatively as inexpensive as we would like:
US pricing and release date
- 48-inch OLED48C1PUB retails for $1,499 (around ₱76,018)
- 55-inch OLED55C1PUB retails for $1,799 (around ₱91,231)
- 65-inch OLED65C1PUB retails for $2,499 (around ₱126,730)
- 77-inch OLED77C1PUB retails for $3,799 (around ₱192,656)
- 83-inch OLED83C1PUA retails for $5,999 (around ₱304,224)
UK pricing and release date
- 55-inch OLED55C14LA retails for £1,699 (around ₱116,652)
- 65-inch OLED65C14LA retails for £2,499 (around ₱171,579)
- 77-inch OLED77C14LA retails for £4,499 (around ₱308,898)
- 83-inch OLED83C14LA retails for £6,999 (around ₱480,547)
Australia pricing and release date
- 48-inch OLED83C1PTB retails for AU$2,999 (around ₱110,428)
- 55-inch OLED83C1PTB retails for AU$3,499 (around ₱128,838)
- 65-inch OLED83C1PTB retails for AU$4,699 (around ₱173,024)
- 77-inch OLED83C1PTB retails for AU$8,999 (around ₱331,358)
- 83-inch OLED83C1PTB retails for AU$12,599 (around ₱463,915)
Compared to last year’s prices, the LG C1 OLED costs the same as the LG CX OLED, though the latter is now available at a discount due to the LG C1’s arrival.
Because the two models are nearly identical except for the processor, it’s probably worth picking up last year’s model at a steep discount if you can locate one.
While it’s understandable that last year’s television is now less expensive, how does the C1 OLED’s price compare to other OLED televisions? In comparison to the new Sony A80J OLED, which costs $2,799 (approximately ₱142,028) for the 65-inch version, the C1 OLED is less expensive in the United States.
However, UK buyers will pay £4,199 (about ₱288,507) for the 65-inch Sony A80J, making the £2,499 (approximately ₱171,702) C1 OLED a steal.
However, there are more affordable options, such as the Vizio OLED TV, which starts at $1,199 (approximately ₱60,840) for a 55-inch model, or the Panasonic HZ980 is available from Currys for £1,098 (about ₱75,442).
Both of those TVs have some drawbacks (starting with the lack of HDMI 2.1 ports), but they are less expensive and offer comparable black levels.
- Unibody stand feels hefty and safe
- Razor-thin near the top
- Reflective glass surface
- Fantastic Magic Remote
It may seem trivial to discuss how a TV looks on the outside – after all, it’s the picture that matters – but you can’t ignore how nice the LG C1 OLED looks on the inside.
The front of the TV is pure minimalism – a long silver stand holds it upright, and there is only a millimeter or two between the image and the display’s edge.
If mounted, the screen is visible, but leaving it on its (quite hefty) standstill looks fantastic. This added weight keeps the TV stable and gives the C1 a low center of gravity.
Turn the TV to the side, and you’ll notice the razor-thin OLED display; it’s thinner than your smartphone and looks significantly nicer.
The TV is slightly thicker near the bottom, where the stand screws in, to accommodate the components and speakers, but even that section is not as extensive as most full array LED-LCD TVs.
The C1’s design has only one significant flaw: the front all-glass screen is quite reflective.
Please place it in a room with moderate lighting and streams of light coming in; otherwise, it’s easy to catch a glare.
While the glare diminishes somewhat when bright and colorful content is displayed on the screen, any night or space scene will have a glimmer if the blinds cannot be closed.
Apart from that one flaw, the rest of the design is flawless.
The C1 features four full-spec HDMI 2.1 ports with 4K at 144Hz support and three USB ports, an RF tuner, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an optical digital audio output.
Finally, one of the HDMI ports supports eARC/ARC, which is ideal for those who own an AVR or soundbar and dislike using more than one remote.
Speaking of remotes, the LG C1 OLED includes the excellent LG Magic Remote, which is Bluetooth-enabled and consists of an integrated microphone for voice searches.
The remote is exceptionally comfortable to hold and is powered by two AA batteries.
We love that the UI can be accessed via Wii-style motion controls, directional pads, or the four quick launch buttons at the bottom.
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- Support for nearly every primary streaming service
- Quick, responsive UI with AirPlay and Casting
- Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in
If you’ve owned an LG television in the last decade, you’ll be familiar with the C1 OLED’s operating system – yep, it’s WebOS.
WebOS, a long-standing LG TV feature, enables it to add new channels and support multiple partners quickly.
Put, because WebOS is not beholden to Google, Amazon, or Apple, it supports all of the above simultaneously via a snappy user interface and robust customization system.
This year, the only significant change is a greater emphasis on the ThinQ AI home screen that appears when you press the home button.
You’ll find your most frequently used apps here, as well as any connected devices to ThinQ AI.
When it comes to apps, nearly every primary service is represented and explained, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vudu, Sling TV, Disney Plus, Paramount Plus, and Apple TV.
While your music streaming options are slightly more limited, you can still choose from Spotify, Plex, Pandora, and Amazon Music, among others.
While WebOS hasn’t added many new features this year aside from a new home screen with more rows, there are still some noteworthy additions from last year.
Among them is sports integration, in which, after informing the C1 of your favorite sports teams, WebOS will provide score updates and reminders when your teams are scheduled to play.
However, more practical is the built-in support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, which can be accessed via the corresponding buttons on the remote, as well as AirPlay and Casting from your phone or tablet.
During our testing, we encountered some difficulties getting AirPlay to work correctly – but Casting worked flawlessly.
- It doesn’t use the new LG OLED Evo panel (but it still looks good)
- Upscaling is excellent, with one minor exception
- It supports HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision, but not HDR10+
LG’s OLED TV lineup for 2021 is divided into two categories this year: those equipped with LG’s new OLED Evo panels and those provided without.
For those curious, the LG C1 lacks the new panel – and yet, even without it, it remains one of the best OLED TVs we’ve seen.
The OLED Evo panel adds brightness via a new lighting element embedded in the self-emissive pixels. That is not present on the LG C1 OLED, but we discovered that it lacks brightness.
The photograph looked stunning in our moderately bright (i.e., with some ambient light) living room.
While reflective glare did eat away at the inky black levels, we found that the screen’s brightness compensated well for ambient light.
The C1 can do so because of the built-in light sensor, which measures ambient light levels and adjusts the picture accordingly.
When the TV detects more light in the room, it increases the screen’s brightness.
While the peak brightness is still not as high as the peak luminance on the new Samsung QN900A QLED, it is approaching the 1,000-nit mark set by rival LED-LCD TVs.
In terms of brightness and contrast, the C1 OLED supports the most popular HDR formats, including HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG, except HDR10+.
This last bit means that while shows on Amazon Prime will not be optimized for Dolby Vision, content on Netflix, Vudu, and Disney will be.
While watching the Falcon and The Winter Soldier premiere, the crimson reds of Captain America’s shield and the deep blues of the sky looked incredible.
And, while no segment of the show blinded us with bright HDR highlights – the LG C1 OLED, unlike the LG G1 OLED, does not use the new OLED Evo panels – any dark scene looked significantly richer on the C1 OLED than on any LED-LCD we tested in the last year.
Due to the self-emissive nature of the pixels, there is little to no light bleed, and objects moving across the screen appear cleaner than on LED-LCD televisions.
While there is still some motion blur, LG’s motion processing has significantly improved over the last few years.
The only area where image quality could be improved is how the Alpha a9 Gen 4 processor handles faces, which results in a slight reddish hue and graininess.
When watching shows like The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime, you’ll notice a hint of redness in the hosts’ faces, while characters in HD content that has been upscaled to 4K may exhibit noticeable grain.
LG is well aware of this, as it is a major focus of the Alpha a9 Gen 4 processor, but some work is still to be done in that area.
Fortunately, the processor is quite adept at upscaling.
Films from the mid-2000s appear to have been shot and distributed in 4K despite being streamed in HD, as does content from a high-definition OTA antenna – a true engineering marvel.
Speaking of engineering, it’s worth discussing the new gaming features on this year’s C-Series OLED, as they represent the majority of this year’s innovation.
To begin, there’s the unique Game Optimiser setting, which enables quick adjustment of the White Stabilizer, Black Stabilizer, and VRR.
You get ALLM support when the OLED detects an incoming game signal via one of the four HDMI 2.1 ports and a Prevent Input Delay feature that reduces input latency to less than ten milliseconds.
Naturally, not every game will support 4K/120Hz at launch. Few will support 1440p/120Hz or 1080p/120Hz – but you’ll appreciate those that do.
However, Forza Horizon 4 is one of the selected few, and it looks incredible on the C1 OLED.
Taking cars out on backcountry roads is a smooth and responsive experience that does not sacrifice visual fidelity.
To summarize, if you’re a gamer turned cinephile or vice versa, the LG C1 OLED is visually capable of pleasing both camps and is well worth the upgrade from an LED-LCD TV.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the LG C1 is highly customizable and excellent for calibration.
The C1 offers extensive customizability for white point balancing and individual color calibration if you enjoy tinkering with image settings.
If that sounds too difficult, we discovered that using the default Calibrated settings with a neutral rather than warm color tone makes the TV look incredible.
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- 40W of Dolby Atmos audio
- 2.2-channel system
- Dialogue can get lost in the mix
- Dolby Atmos passthrough with eARC
The LG C1 OLED’s picture enhancements aren’t its only trick this year; it also includes a pretty neat AI Sound upscaling feature that converts essential stereo audio tracks to virtual 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos sound with a fair amount of verticality, which makes the LG C1 OLED sound significantly better than standard TV speakers.
To be sure, it’s not significantly better than a standalone soundbar – especially when compared to one of the best soundbars on the market, such as the Sonos Arc – but the out-of-the-box sound should be more than adequate for the majority of people.
The only real issue we noticed is that without sound leveling enabled, audio can be a little erratic – meaning you’ll hear booming bass and nearly sibilant highs alongside weaker dialogue when watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
For us, it occurred during Falcon and The Winter Soldier, when the sound effects were incredible, but the mix drowned out the actors’ voices.
Fortunately, if you encounter the same issue, you can resolve it by changing the default sound profile to Enhanced Dialogue or activating volume leveling.
Both may require sacrificing some of the booming basses, but the result is a more balanced sound that is more comfortable to listen to for extended periods.
However, if you own or plan to purchase a soundbar, the LG C1 supports ARC and eARC via one of the four HDMI ports.
This enables you to pass Dolby Atmos sound from the TV to the soundbar and control the volume remotely.
It’s incredibly convenient and well worth utilizing if you haven’t already.
Should You Buy The LG C1 OLED?
Buy it if…
You’re looking for one of the best televisions available this year
While there are more expensive options with higher peak brightness, the LG C1 strikes the optimal price-performance balance.
You’re getting 99 percent of the performance of top-tier televisions without emptying your wallet.
Although it is more expensive than some budget models, its moderate price tag is well worth it.
You desire an intuitive, easy-to-use, innovative platform
After testing every major smart TV platform available, we can confidently state that WebOS is one best.
It’s fast and robust, supporting nearly every major service, plus it’s highly customizable and compatible with both major smart assistants.
You’re a gamer who owns next-generation consoles
With four HDMI 2.1 ports and 4K at 120Hz support, this is the next-generation gaming television that gamers have been waiting for.
Add Game Optimiser, which enables gamers to enable VRR and Nvidia G-Sync easily, and you have a very compelling monitor alternative.
Don’t buy it if…
You can save a lot of money on the LG CX OLED
The new Alpha a9 Gen 4 processor improves the LG C1 slightly over the LG CX OLED. Having said that, if you can find a good deal on last year’s flagship OLED, we recommend it.
For you, glare may be an issue
While the all-glass front screen is stunning, it also has a high degree of reflection.
If you’ve had glare issues in the past – or if the TV will be directly facing a light source – you may want to consider a QLED TV instead.
You desire something even more brilliant
Although the LG C1 OLED appears to be brighter than previous years, it does not feature LG’s new OLED Evo panels designed from the ground up for increased peak brightness.
If you’ve seen OLEDs in the past and weren’t impressed by their brightness, you might prefer the LG G1 OLED with the new OLED Evo panel.