It’s fair to say that LG’s C3 and G3 OLED TV ranges have a lot to live up to in 2023.
The C2 hoovered up five-star ratings across multiple screen sizes in 2022 and it also dominated the TV category at the end-of-year What Hi-Fi? Awards. So, it’s only natural that all eyes will be on the new C3 and whether or not it’s deemed the sweet spot of LG’s new line-up in terms of performance and price.
The G2 also picked up a five-star review in 65-inch guise and, as you’re about to read, LG has unveiled some interesting developments in the picture department for 2023. If the company’s claims are to be believed, we could see some significant gains from this step-up series that could result in a real shake-up of the OLED TV market.
At CES 2023 we were able to get a guided tour of both LG’s new G3 and C3 model ranges and you can find an overview of what both these flatscreens have to offer with our initial impressions below.
There isn’t a huge difference between the 2023 G3 and last year’s G2 series in terms of design, but there have been some developments for the C3.
The G3 is a slim, attractive TV with an emphasis on wall-mounting thanks to the supplied “Zero Gap” mount. It allows you to have the TV sat flush against the wall and is aided by a special cut-out on the back of the TV chassis. Alternatively, there is a stand available for the G3, but it’s an optional extra (price TBC).
It’s a similar, but also slightly different story for the LG C3 OLED. The supplied stand is virtually identical to its predecessor’s so there’s no real news on that front. However, for 2023 LG is offering customers an optional Dolby Atmos soundbar (the SC9) that has been specifically designed to integrate perfectly with the C3 (its size makes it most suitable for the 55-inch and 65-inch versions), whether you want to wall mount or simply slot it in beneath the screen.
Unsurprisingly, both C3 and G3 get the same remote control as last year but that's no bad thing – we’re already big fans of the intuitive motion controls and scroll wheel configuration.
LG has made design changes to its WebOS operating system, though. WebOS 2023 has been refined to be more efficient, with a reduction in the number of pages that display content, from three to two.
This reduction in homescreen content has been achieved through the introduction of folders (called Quick Cards) that are designed to group together related features and apps so they’re easier to access. It’s all about simplifying the user experience and making the menu systems less complicated.
Related to this is the introduction of a new Personalised Picture Wizard across both the G3 and C3. It’s a picture set-up process that’s been designed to help you get your preferred picture settings without actually needing to go into the menus.
You’re presented with 6 sets of images, each corresponding to an area of picture performance, e.g. colour saturation, sharpness and brightness. You pick two from each set and at the end the screen’s image is calibrated to your preferences.
Also related to LG’s desire to make owning one of its 2023 TVs simpler for the end user is a new customisable quick mode, which gives you access to, among other things, picture modes, sound modes and input selection. All of these elements are presented in a pop-out menu on the left of the screen, which means you can quickly switch between different settings and see (or hear) exactly the effect they’re having.
Both C3 and G3 are powered by LG’s new Alpha 9 AI Processor Gen 6 and, as you can probably guess, it has a handful of picture-enhancing tricks up its sleeve. Coming under the umbrella of ‘Alpha Reality’ are new features such as AI Super Upscaling Pro, which is designed to enhance any content in lower than 4K resolution and also reduce noise levels without interfering with intentional picture grain.
OLED Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro allows the G3 and C3 to break the image up into 20,000 blocks, or zones. By contrast, the previous Alpha 9 Gen 5 processor found in last year's C2 model could only manage 5000 blocks.
These new processing features pale into insignificance when compared to the hardware upgrade that LG is bringing with the G3 (but not the C3). Called Micro Lens Array, it's basically a layer of tiny lenses that help improve the focus of the light that is being emitted by the OLEDs, essentially meaning that more of the light that's generated actually makes it to your eyes, apparently resulting in a big increase in brightness over last year's already-very-bright G2. Like the G2, the G3 also boasts a brightness-boosting heatsink that its C-series sibling has to do without.
LG’s consistently been at the front of the chasing pack when it comes to connectivity and gaming support and 2023 sees no change here. Both G3 and C3 have four HDMI 2.1 inputs that support 4K/120Hz, ALLM and VRR. While not directly confirmed, we believe that Dolby Vision gaming is once again supported right up to 4K/120Hz, and that the HGiG mode, which results in more accurate HDR tone mapping with many games, returns.
At CES 2023, my TV demos were a little limited in terms of content, but general impressions for both sets are positive. Nighttime cityscapes with flashes of neon and bright lights were handled pretty effortlessly by the C3. The set seemed more than capable of producing a detailed image with plenty of punch in the brighter areas of the screen and rich deep blacks where required.
Another scene showed an orchestra performing in a darkened room aglow with shades of yellow and burnt orange. The TV seemed to do a good job of juggling and balancing the different shades, and managing detail levels in the darker elements of the front of the stage.
I wasn't given the opportunity to see the same clip on the G3 to compare. Instead, this set was fed with content designed to show off the extra gear in brightness available through its Micro Lens Array technology. And, it did feel as though the G3 was taking things up a gear and going a step further with its brightness levels. Vibrancy wasn’t a problem, although it will be interesting to see how the screen performs with a wider range of content and more natural-looking scenes.
It’s obviously hard to judge two new ranges of OLED TV based purely on a brief demo in a hotel suite, but you’d be shocked if the C3 and G3 didn’t turn out to be star performers for LG in 2023. On paper, there’s a decent gap between the two in terms of picture and if this plays out during our extensive testing, prospective buyers could have a big decision to make.
Where things could really get interesting is in terms of price and just how big a gap there is between the C3 and G3 and whether, if the G3 does indeed stand out significantly from its predecessor in terms of performance, it’s a no-brainer to spend the extra money on the step-up model. One thing for sure is that it will be great to get both TVs into our test labs for full, comparative testing.
CES 2023 news: the latest from the world's biggest technology show