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Hands on: LG G2 and C2 OLED TV review

Do LG's 2022 OLEDs have what it takes to defeat the new wave of QD-OLEDs?

What is a hands on review?
LG C2 vs G2
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

Pros

  • +

    Noticeably brighter than before

  • +

    As gaming-friendly as ever

  • +

    Available in more sizes

Cons

  • -

    Smallest models not as bright

  • -

    Niche design of G2

  • -

    More expensive than 2021 models

We've now published our full LG G2 review, and fantastic it is too. Our full review of the C2 is also on the way, but if you'd like to read how both sets stacked up in our original hands-on session, please keep reading...

While there are certainly reasons that you might want to opt for a rival, LG's OLEDs have been the go-to premium TV of choice for most people for years now. That means there's huge anticipation for each year's new models – and huge pressure on LG to get things right yet again.

In 2022, LG is facing its toughest challenge yet. Not only does it have to compete with the usual assortment of OLED and QLED rivals, it also has to face down a whole new type of TV, with QD-OLED models from Sony and Samsung about to hit shops.

So how is LG planning on rising to this challenge? By making its C2 and G2 models brighter than ever before, introducing new picture and sound features via an upgraded processor, and doubling-down on their gaming credentials.

Unfortunately, 2022's C2 and G2 appear to be more expensive than their 2021 equivalents – so are the upgrades worth the price increases, and can they keep LG ahead of the competition? Here are our early impressions, courtesy of a recent hands-on session.

LG G2 and C2 prices

While we don't yet have full pricing for all models across all regions, it's clear that, in the UK at least, prices for the C2 at the core sizes (48-inch, 55-inch and 65-inch) have risen somewhat over those of last year's C1.

Interestingly, prices for these sizes in the US are the same as they were last year, and prices revealed so far for the very large C2s and G2s are lower than those of their 2021 equivalents.

Here's a table of all of the C2 and G2 prices we have so far, along with last year's C1 and G1 prices for comparison.

LG C2 and G2 prices versus C1 and G1
C2 (2022)C1 (2021)G2 (2022)G1 (2021)
42-inch£1399 / $1400 / AU$TBCNo such modelNo such modelNo such model
48-inch£1399 / $1500 / AU$TBC£1299 / $1500 / AU$2999No such modelNo such model
55-inch£1900 / $1800 / AU$TBC£1699 / $1800 / AU$3499£2400 / $2200 / AU$TBC£1999 / $2200 / AU$3799
65-inch£2700 / $2500 / AU$TBC£2499 / $2500 / AU$4699£3300 / $3200 / AU$TBC£2999 / $3000 / AU$5299
77-inch£3500 / $3500 / AU$TBC£3999 / $3800 / AU$8999£4500 / $4200 / AU$TBC£4799 / $4500 / AU$9999
83-inch£5500 / $5500 / AU$TBC£TBC / $6000 / AU$12599£6500 / $6500 / AU$TBCNo such model
97-inchNo such modelNo such model£TBC / $TBC / AU$TBCNo such model

You'll also notice from the above table that LG is introducing new sizes for 2022: there's now a 42-inch C2 and a 97-inch G2. You will also this year be able to buy a G2 at 83 inches – in 2021 it was only the C model that was available in that size.

Design

LG OLED77C2

(Image credit: Future)

LG's C-series OLEDs have barely changed in appearance since the C9 was introduced in 2019, so it's good to see at least some changes being made for the C2. Most welcome is the move from an elegant but very wide and low stand to a pedestal that's significantly narrower (good for placement on furniture) and a little taller (good for leaving room for a soundbar).

Aside from the stand, the design is very much the same as before, albeit with a couple of millimetres shaved off the overall depth and width measurements, the latter due to even thinner bezels than before.

The exception is the 42-inch C2, which looks markedly different to its bigger brothers. Most notably, this model comes with two feet rather than a central pedestal, and the plastic casework attached to the rear panel covers a far larger area, proportionally speaking, and has a recess for the various connections.

LG's G series has always been designed to essentially look like a picture frame (the 'G' stands for 'Gallery'), and the super-slim chassis and ultra-thin bezels don't give the company much room for aesthetic advancement. That said, the G2 does look slightly different to its G1 predecessor thanks to even thinner bezels and a change from 45-degree Chamfered edges in favour of cleaner right angles.

As before, the G2 comes with a flush wall mount rather than a stand, which will remain a frustration for those who want LG's most advanced picture but don't want to or can't wall-mount. There is, of course, an optional stand that can be bought separately and, thankfully, that's a fairly narrow and elegant 'alpine' pedestal stand rather than the rather ungainly and unhelpfully wide-set feet of previous G-series models.

One other thing to note is that LG has been on a serious weight reduction regime and the C2 and G2 are both vastly lighter than their 2021 counterparts. The C2, with stand, weighs just 16.5kg – roughly half the weight of the C1. We actually had to move the 77-inch C2 during the hands-on session and were amazed to discover that, thanks to its 24.1kg weight, it's fairly easily lifted by one person, though it's obviously still sensible to rope in some help if you have to move one yourself – it's still a big and expensive item after all.

Features

LG C2 vs G2

(Image credit: Future)

When LG introduced its brighter OLED Evo technology last year, it did so exclusively on the G1 TV. This year, though, both the G2 and C2 will be designated OLED Evo models. Before you go assuming that we're back to the C- and G-series having identical pictures, as they did pre-2021, it's worth noting that the G2 has extra heat dissipation technology that allows it to go even brighter than the C2.

In LG parlance, the C2 has Brightness Booster while the G2 has Brightness Booster Max and, according to LG, that makes the C2 20 per cent brighter than the lower-end B2 and A2 models (which appear to be no brighter than last year's B1 and A1), while the G2 is 30 per cent brighter than those same models. If you think it would be more useful to know how much brighter the C2 and G2 are than the C1 and G1, we agree, but LG were not prepared to supply those figures – although we were able to compare the C2 and G2 with a C1 during the demo session, and you can read our thoughts on that below.

In short, though, if you want LG's best 2022 picture performance, you'll (in theory at least) need to buy the more expensive, more niche G2, and that will be a disappointment for some.

The other thing to note on the subject of brightness is that while the 42-inch and 48-inch C2s are considered to be OLED Evo models, they won't go as bright as their larger siblings. LG says this is a matter of pixel density. Because the pixels are packed so tightly together, they can't be powered quite so aggressively.

Returning to the overall feature sets, the C2 and G2 are more or less identical, brightness aside. Both are powered by the new Alpha 9 Gen 5 processor. This doesn't sound like a huge upgrade on last year's Alpha 9 Gen 4, but AI upscaling has been modified to improve its efficiency, removing a step that could potentially add unwanted artefacts, while a new Dynamic Tone-mapping Pro Algorithm will subdivide the screen into more discrete areas (by an order of 10) for more granular enhancement.

Object Background Enhancement also gains a Dynamic Vivid Mode that can better differentiate foreground and background, analysing them separately, which LG says will create a greater depth of field.

The new processor also brings with it an upgrade in the sound department, with soundtracks now being upmixed into 7.1.2 virtual channels, rather than the 5.1.2 of before.

One other very interesting development that's apparently enabled by the Alpha 9 Gen 5 is support for Dolby's new Dolby Vision with Precision Detail format. This is essentially a further development of Dolby Vision IQ but, unlike IQ, which is designed to adjust brightness and contrast to deliver a more accurate picture in all lighting conditions, Precision Detail is said to actively adjust the light levels of all parts of the picture in an effort to boost contrast, sharpness and detail.

Dolby Vision with Precision Detail can be applied to any existing Dolby Vision content, and it will be fascinating to see how this new format performs in action as it's hard to understand how this sort of post-processing doesn't make the picture less accurate.

Of course, if Dolby Vision with Precision Detail does prove to be a disappointment, Dolby Vision IQ and standard Dolby Vision are also of course supported. As are the HDR10 and HLG formats. HDR10+ is predictably absent.

On the gaming front, LG hasn't changed much, largely because it hasn't had to. As before, the C2 and G2 both boast four HDMI 2.1 sockets (most models from many rival brands still have just two), but this year they've been upgraded from 40gbps to 48gbps. In reality, that currently makes little to no practical difference, seeing as there's no commercially available source that outputs at the 48gbps maximum, but a little bit of extra future-proofing doesn't hurt.

Those HDMI 2.1 sockets do of course support 4K/120 gaming, VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode). Also as before, the new C2 and G2 will support HGiG for greater HDR accuracy with games, and there's a Dolby Vision Game mode for Xbox Series X/S gamers to take advantage of.

LG's Game Optimiser menu has been mildly updated for 2022, giving even easier access to game-specific settings and, in addition to the four existing game genre presets, a new preset for sports games. Both models will also benefit from a new Dark Room mode to reduce eye fatigue when playing in low light by lowering brightness without apparently sacrificing contrast.

On the subject of menus, LG's 2022 TVs come with the new webOS 22 operating system. Truth be told, it doesn't appear to be much of a departure from 2021's webOS 6.0, which somewhat controversially moved from a pop-up row of options to a full-screen interface, but LG has sought to improve personalisation and recommendations, most notably through the addition of discrete user profiles.

LG has also taken a leaf out of Samsung's book by introducing an 'Always Ready' mode that can utilise the screen to display weather updates, a clock, art, personal photos or animation when it would otherwise be on standby. Both the C2 and G2 have far-field microphones built into their frames, enabling them to respond to voice commands when in standby mode, allowing you to check the weather without turning your TV on.

Picture

LG C2 vs G2

Here we see the 65-inch G2 on the left and the 77-inch C2 on the right (Image credit: Future)

Now the really crucial bit: do the C2 and G2 really look like upgrades on the C1 and G1? It's always hard to draw firm conclusions from a single hands-on session, and we'll reserve final judgement until we've had both sets in our labs for full tests, but they certainly seem to deliver on their promises.

While the only photos we were allowed to take were of the TVs displaying LG's own demo footage, we were also shown the TVs running some genuine movie content, most notably one of the forest scenes from The Revenant. To cut a long story short, the C2 (which we were shown in 77-inch guise) looked vastly brighter than the C1, even in Filmmaker Mode, which has most of the TV's advanced picture processing switched off. And we're not simply talking about peak brightness here, but the overall brightness. Yes, individual, very bright elements have more pop, but more importantly the whole scene looked punchier, more engaging and more insightful, to the extent of making the C1 look rather dull.

Besides the extra shadow detail revealed by the higher brightness, overall detail levels looked fairly similar, as did overall sharpness, but the extra punch and contrast was transformative.

In this demo, the C2 looked slightly cooler in tone than the C1, though LG suggested this may simply be down to sample variation as there's no intentional change in colour balance from one generation to the next. It may be, though, that the extra brightness has resulted in a marginally cooler balance. It will be interesting to put this to the test when we receive our review samples.

Then there's the G2, which we saw as a 65-incher. While the brightness jump between it and the C2 isn't as pronounced as that between the C2 and C1, it is still clearly, obviously a brighter, punchier TV. The familial resemblance between the two TVs is clear, but the G2 takes what the C2 does so well and makes it pop that bit more. The extra brightness results in even more shadow detail being resolved, as well as a slight uptick in colour vibrancy.

There's obviously much more that we need to test before reaching a final verdict on either TV (upscaling, motion processing, gaming, the new Dolby Vision with Precision Detail feature, etc), but we certainly left the demo session very impressed.

Sound

We weren't able to listen to the C2 or G2 during the demo session, so we've only got the specs to go on for now. Those specs tell us that the C2 has a 2.2-channel sound system rated to 40W, whereas the G2 is 4.2-channel and rated to 60W, though both sets will be capable of upmixing signals to 7.1.2 virtual channels.

Specs can't tell you much, though, particularly where sound is concerned, and we're hoping that LG has done some work on making the C2 and G2 sound more exciting than the clear but rather dull C1 and G1.

Initial verdict

LG C2 vs G2

(Image credit: Future)

While it's impossible to reach anything like a final verdict from a brief demo session, it certainly looks as if the C2 and G2 will deliver on LG's promise of a brighter, punchier OLED picture performance, and that appears to deliver benefits right across the board.

The most pronounced upgrade is from the C1 and C2, and it seems likely that the C2 will remain the best choice for most people. That said, the G2 appears to take things a step further and will likely be the aficionado's choice, particularly if the plan is to wall-mount.

The bigger question, of course, is how these two new models will fare against the 2022 models offered by LG's rivals. Last year, Philips and Sony both produced OLEDs with more punch and crisper definition than the LG C1 and G1, and both are expected (confirmed in the case of Philips) to this year be using the same OLED EX panels that form part of LG's OLED Evo technology.

Then there's the small matter of the QD-OLEDs that are on the way and which, thanks to LG's price rises, might be in direct competition with at least the G2. In fact, we already know that in the US the Samsung S95B will be the same price as the G2 at 55 inches, and will actually undercut it at 65 inches. Sony's A95K, which looked fabulous when we recently saw it in action, is expected to be more expensive, but perhaps not by such a degree that a potential G2 buyer wouldn't also have it on their shortlist.

In other words, there's much more testing to be done before we can settle on a star rating for the LG C2 and G2, but they both look very good so far and could well prove to be the go-to OLED TVs this year, just as their predecessors were.

MORE:

Here's the full LG 2022 TV lineup

Also consider the Sony A95K QD-OLED TV

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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.