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Hands on: LG CX Series OLED TV review

The LG CX Series OLED represents a new year and new screen size for LG OLED TVs

What is a hands on review?
LG OLED48CX (LG CX range)
(Image: © Future)

For

  • Appealing screen size
  • Impressive black levels
  • Balanced colours

Against

  • Won't be cheap
  • No HDR10+

The LG CX Series aims to fill a gap in LG's 4K OLED TV ranges of recent years: smaller screen sizes. 55in and 65in sets are all well and good, but you still need to have enough room to accommodate them, and you still need to be sat a decent distance away for the best viewing experience.

Well, consumer prayers have been answered in the shape of the LG OLED48CX. This 48in LG 4K OLED TV is brand new for 2020 and looks set to be one of this year's big sellers. Naturally, we headed over to LG's demo area at CES 2020 for a closer look.

Design and build

(Image credit: Future)

LG's CX range of OLED TVs appears virtually identical to the all-conquering and Award-winning C9 series from last year. This means it looks svelte and sophisticated from most angles, with a minimalist bezel running around the edge and an angled stand protruding along the bottom edge of the set. There’s a chunky weighted section of that sticks out of the back of the set which helps keep it planted.

On the back of the CX there’s the familiar plastic panel holding  the down-firing speakers and all the sockets, including four HDMI inputs, USB sockets and satellite connections. The HDMI inputs on CX are fully HDMI 2.1 certified, meaning they’re compatible with eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate).

(Image credit: Future)

Features

New for 2020 is LG’s new Alpha 9 Gen 3 processor which powers all its new OLED TVs bar the entry-level BX range.

AI Picture Pro, LG’s suite of picture-processing technologies makes a return with improved image enhancement, reducing noise and increasing sharpness, particularly where faces are concerned.

The big addition for this new version of the Alpha 9 is Auto Genre Selection, where the TV recognises the type of content being played, be it a movie, sports or an animation, and adjusts the picture processing to suit.

Also new for 2019 is Filmmaker mode, a setting adopted by a number of TV manufacturers. It’s supposed to turn off all edge enhancement and motion smoothing to allow content to appear in its purest state, as the filmmaker intended.

Dolby Vision IQ also makes an appearance for the first time on LG TVs. We've seen a few TV manufacturers announce their support for this TV tech at CES 2020. Dolby claims it can optimise compatible video content for varying levels of room brightness.

(Image credit: Future)

LG's webOS operating system looks largely familiar, with the boldly coloured ‘cards’ giving you quick access to features and content providers. This year we'll see cards for new streaming services including Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus.

WebOS also includes LG's AI Preview functionality introduced in 2019, which adds relevant content above the app you’ve highlighted, based on recent use. Once again ‘Intelligent Edit’ automatically re-orders sources and apps based on usage.

There have been a couple of subtle tweaks, though. The Home Dashboard has been cleaned up to make it easier to understand and arrange all your connected smart devices.

(Image credit: Future)

2020 also sees the introduction of a new Sports Alert mode. You can choose to follow your favourite teams in a handful of sports and get alerts for fixtures, score updates and highlights.

US models will also get a feature that LG refers to as 'Who? Where? What?'. It’s powered by The Take.AI, an image and video recognition technology that uses artificial intelligence to allow the TV to highlight various elements of the content you're watching in real time. So it can tell you the location of a specific film scene or what coat or dress an actor or actress is wearing. We were given a quick demo and it was impressive seeing the tech in action.

The OLED48CX also gets intelligence voice interaction through LG’s own ThinQ platform,  Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Where you’d normally communicate with the TV using the mic built into its remote, 2020 LG’s OLEDs all have a far-field mic built into the actual set.

Picture 

(Image credit: Future)

At CES 2020, LG was pitching the OLED48CX as the “the ultimate gaming display”. So there were plenty of gaming demos to look at, but very little in the way of standard content. The 48in CX and the majority of LG's OLED sets for this year support Nvidia's G-Sync tech, which means the TVs can sync with compatible PCs and support 4K 120fps gaming.

We saw a few laps from F1 2019 plus trailers for Project Cars 2, and the LG CX handled it with smooth motion, delivering plenty of on-screen detail. From sponsor logos on the cars to puddles of water on the track, the LG's picture was sharp, colourful and punchy.

We were also given a brief look at the effect of Filmmaker mode with some HDR demo footage. It can be manually enabled in the picture settings or can be set to switch on automatically when it receives flagged content. The image appears slightly darker with it turned on and LG's TV actually makes a point of telling you this will happen before you enable it. Either way, the CX appeared to have a good grasp of colours and contrast during the short clips we saw.

Sound

(Image credit: Future)

Again, given the limited content on offer, we were treated to a quick blast of Project Cars 2. The OLED48CX seemed to cope well with the screeching of tyres as they struggled for grip, while the thumping soundtrack came through loud and relatively clear. There’s every chance you’ll still want to partner the OLED48CX with a soundbar, but given many bars are now designed with 55in+ sets in mind, make sure you don't buy one with too wide a wingspan.

Verdict

The whole reasoning behind doing a 48in OLED TV is quite simple: the demand is there. Not everyone can accommodate a 55in or 65in set, so being able to get the benefits of OLED TV technology in a smaller frame makes a lot of sense and will widen LG's reach.

But one of the big questions hanging over the OLED48CX is price. What will you have to pay for this smaller OLED screen?

If you were hoping for a budget price tag, we're afraid you're going to be disappointed. An OLED screen this small is expensive to manufacture and we suspect it will probably land somewhere between £1000/$1000 and £1500/$1500.

We hope to be able to bring you all the LG OLED pricing in the coming days, while our LG OLED48CX review should land on whathifi.com in advance of the TV going on sale at some point between February and April.

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What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.

  • Neilrich
    Only one satellite tuner? Samsung qled have 2 allowing full freesat without humax.
    Reply
  • frenchiefr
    maybe only one turner but the picture quality of the OLED far superior against QLED to be honest
    Reply
  • Brek
    A qled could have 10 built in sat decoders, I still wouldn't have one. 65 inch old for me thanks.
    Reply