LG C8 (OLED65C8PLA) Review

LG C8 (OLED65C8PLA) Review

 

 

 LG C8 (OLED65C8PLA) Review

What is the LG C8?

The LG C8 is the Korean manufacturer’s latest 4K OLED TV and represents the entry point for its new Alpha 9 Intelligent Processor. As with last year, all the models above the C8 – the E8G8 and W8 – offer an identical level of picture quality, performance and features; the only differences are related to cosmetics and sound quality. However unlike last year the C8 does differ from the B8, which uses the less sophisticated Alpha 7 processor found in LG’s latest SUPER UHD TVs.

At first glance the features and specifications of the LG C8 might seem the same as last year, but there are differences. As mentioned this new Ultra HD OLED TV boasts the Alpha 9 intelligent processor, and with it comes new features such as de-contouring, black frame insertion and auto-calibration. In addition there’s the excellent Dynamic Tone Mapping feature which, whilst not new, now has its own control rather than being hidden away in the menus.

If that wasn’t enough, the C8 includes the latest version of LG’s superb WebOS smart platform with the Magic remote and improved voice control. LG has now included ThinQ Artificial Intelligence, which allows for control and communication with other supporting devices. There’s also a snazzy new design that includes a new stand that not only looks great, but is also intended to improve the sound quality of the C8. Throw in a comprehensive set of streaming services and you’ve got a strong contender.

The C8 comes in three screen sizes, the 55-inch OLED55C8PLA which costs £2,999; the 65-inch OLED65C8PLA which I’m reviewing here and will set you back £4,499; and the massive 77-inch OLED77C8PLA which can be yours for a surprisingly reasonable £7,999. All those prices are at the time of writing (May 2018) but it’s worth noting that LG are currently offering £500 cash-back, so if you shop around you should be able to get the C8 for less than its listed price.

LG’s B7/C7 was my favourite TV of last year, so can the C8 build on that success and take the crown again – let’s see.

LG C8 Design

The C8 is a lovely-looking TV, with a simple design that uses minimalism to emphasise the slimness of the panel and the quality of the image on the screen. As you’d expect for an OLED TV, the panel is mere millimetres thick at the top but widens out to 47mm further down, where the connections, electronics and speakers are housed. There’s no bezel but there is a 10mm black border around the screen itself, along with a black metal trim around the outer edge. The rear is brushed aluminium at the top and a dark grey plastic further down, but the overall build quality is excellent.

The attractive sloped stand, or ‘Alpine’ stand as LG prefer to call it, matches the rest of the design but serves a practical purpose. It takes the sound waves from the TV’s downward-firing speakers, and redirects them towards the listener (more on this later). The stand itself is 900mm wide at the front, 340mm wide at the rear and it’s 230mm deep. There’s also 80mm of clearance under the screen, if you’re thinking of using the C8 with a soundbar.

The TV itself measures 1,449 x 831 x 47mm (WxHxD) and weighs 21kg without the stand, and with the stand attached it measures 1,449 x 881 x 230mm and weighs 25.4kg. If you would prefer to wall mount your C8, it is compatible with a 300×200 VESA bracket.

 The C8 is a gorgeous TV, with a stand that is both attractive and functional

Connectivity

All the connections are at the rear left as you face the screen and it’s a fairly comprehensive set of inputs. I’m pleased to see that LG has weeded out all the useless legacy connections, instead concentrating on what people will actually use.

So there are four HDMI 2.0b inputs that support 4K/60p, 4:4:4, Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), HDCP 2.2 and High Dynamic Range – HDR10, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), Advanced HDR by Technicolor and Dolby Vision. Three of the HDMI inputs face sideways, one of which supports ARC (Audio Return Channel), and they’re located 230mm from the edge of the screen. The fourth HDMI input faces rearwards and all the HDMI connections support LG’s Simplink (HDMI CEC).

There are also three USB ports, with two facing rearwards and the other one facing sideways, along with a sideways-facing CI (Common Interface) slot. There are rearwards-facing terrestrial and satellite tuners, an Ethernet port, an optical digital output and an analogue line out that doubles as a headphone jack. There is also built-in WiFi (802.11ac), WiFi Direct and Bluetooth (V4.2).

Control

The C8 offers a number of alternative methods of control but the first, and by far the best, is the Magic Remote. LG have been using this motion sensitive controller for a few years now, gradually improving it with each iteration. The latest version (MR18) is a triumph of consumer design, offering a simple controller that uses an on-screen cursor and a track wheel, to allow fast and easy navigation of the WebOS smart platform.

It’s also beautifully ergonomic, fitting comfortably in your hand and waking up with a simple shake. You’ll get so used to conjuring magic with this remote that other controllers will seem antiquated by comparison, disappointingly failing to respond as you instinctively shake them. If that isn’t enough you can even use the Magic remote to control other devices, and we had no problems controlling the LG UP970 and Samsung M9500 4K Blu-ray players.

This year LG have improved the voice control feature, thanks to the inclusion of ThinQ AI. The addition of natural language processing, means that you can better control the C8 using more complex voice commands.

Overall I found that the system worked very well, understanding fairly complex voice commands, even when I put on silly accents to challenge it. Although I still found the majority of the controls easier using the Magic Remote, especially since the microphone is in the controller and thus it was in my hand already. However, where voice control really comes in handy is in terms of searches, where it saves you having to type anything out.

If the Magic Remote and natural voice control aren’t enough, there’s also a very good remote app – called simply LG TV Plus – which is available for free for both iOS and Android. The app will detect your TV and then send a pin number to the TV, which you need to put into the app itself. Once you’ve done that, you have access to a series of screens that allow you to replicate the functions of the Magic Remote.

Whilst the remote app is perfectly good, the reality is that the Magic Remote is so much better that I can’t see any circumstance where the app would be my preferred option. Still, if you’re the kind of person that has to use your smartphone or tablet for everything, then at least you have that option.

 There’s plenty of connections, the Magic Remote is a joy to use and there’s improved voice control

Functionality

LG’s WebOS Smart TV platform remains the best and most influential system in the industry and, four years after its launch, it’s still essentially the same. Frankly LG got this one right from day one, so there’s no real need to change much. That hasn’t stopped it from making a few minor tweaks but the platform is still built around a central launcher bar that appears along the bottom of the screen and quad core processing.

Unlike certain other Smart TV systems I could mention (Android… cough, cough), WebOS is fast, responsive and rock solid in operation. It’s also utterly intuitive to use and even the worst Luddite will be navigating it like a master within minutes.

The secret to the success of WebOS is the way that it treats everything as an app – so whether it’s an HDMI input, a video streaming service or the web browser, you simply select what you want from the launcher bar. You can also customise the layout and put your favourite apps at the front of the launcher bar.

It’s hard to overstate just how good WebOS is: want to watch Netflix, just click on the Netflix tab on the launcher bar. In the middle of Lost in Space and you fancy watching something on Amazon Video, simply bring up the launcher bar and hit the Amazon tab. It’s that simple.

 

So what’s new for this year? Well as I’ve already mentioned you can voice control WebOS, and whilst it doesn’t always work, it’s very cool when you say something like “play Stranger Things on Netflix” and the TV actually does just that.

This functionality is tied into ThinQ AI, resulting in a smarter TV that not only understands natural language instructions thanks to intelligent voice recognition, but can also make recommendations thanks to an advanced algorithm that monitors your viewing habits. All you need to do is move the Magic Remote cursor to the right of the screen to see your recommendations.

This year LG have also added more art to the Gallery feature, which essentially turns your OLED TV into a constantly changing painting – something that works particularly well when the TV is wall mounted. There are also the Focus Zoom and Live Zoom features, although they’re a bit of a gimmick.

More useful is the Audio Guidance (text to speech) feature, the Multi-view feature, the My Content feature, the Web Browser and the LG Content Store. There’s also a music Player that supports AC4, AC3(Dolby Digital), EAC3, HE-AAC, AAC, MP2, MP3, PCM, DTS, DTS-HD, DTS Express, WMA and apt-X.

The LG C8 has an 8 day EPG (electronic programme guide) that, like everything else, you simply choose from the WebOS launcher bar – you can also select Live TV from there to access the C8’s built-in tuners. The guide itself is sensibly laid out, it defaults to showing seven channels over two hours and there’s a PIP of the current channel in the top left hand corner.

You can also access the My Channels feature, as well as the Channel Advisor, plus there’s the option for digital recording and time shifting. Frankly, I’m struggling to think of anything that the C8 can’t do, making it one of the most complete TVs I’ve ever experienced.

 WebOS remains the best and most influential Smart TV platform in the industry

 

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