The LG C2 is a mouth-watering update to one of 2021's biggest TV hits, the LG C1. The newer version ushers in a new era for the C-series OLED TVs, boosting the brightness with a new panel technology, while also adding the first 42-inch version to the line-up.
In this LG C2 review, we'll dive into exactly what to expect from the improved OLED panel with Brightness Booster technology, bolstered by LG's most powerful processor yet – but the short version is that the LG C2 sets the bar high for the best OLED TVs, and it delivers a significant step up over the LG C1 that it replaces.
However, there was a sobering increase in the price tag at launch, and it's important to note that the 42-inch and 48-inch versions don't get the same brightness improvements that larger models do. However, prices have fallen, and with Black Friday Deals upon us this is one of the best TVs to buy during the sales.
It's one of the best TVs on the planet today, no question, and is especially one of the best LG TVs and best gaming TVs – but it has tough competition from 2022's more affordable mini-LED TVs and it's only the 55-inch and up models that get the full effect of its image quality improvements, so just keep that in mind as we dig through all the ways it impressed us.
LG C2 OLED: price & release date
The LG C2 was released in April 2022. In total there are six C2 OLED television sizes available, covering 42, 48, 55, 65, 77, and 83 inches.
Don’t expect to save large amounts of money by downsizing though. In the UK, both the 42-inch LG OLED42C2 and 48-inch LG OLED48C2 sell for £1,399. The 55-inch LG OLED55C2 is pricey at £1,899, the 65-inch LG OLED65C2 costs £2,699, the 77-inch LG OLED77C2 costs £3,698 and the super-large 83-inch LG OLED83C2 costs £5,499.
In the US, the 42-inch version costs $1,399, the 48-inch version costs $1,499, the 55-inch version costs $1,799, the 65-inch version costs $2,499, the 77-inch version costs $3,499, and the 84-inch version costs $5,499.
LG C2 review: features & what's new
The LG C2 features OLED Evo tech, which LG's way of saying it combines an advanced panel design with some Brightness Booster gadgetry and LG’s latest processor, the Alpha 9 Gen 5.
Hailed as the most powerful chip yet from the brand, the Alpha 9 Gen 5 has the processing chops to execute a variety of far-reaching image enhancing techniques, including AI object enhancement, which aims to separate foreground elements from their background to process them, for a greater sense of visual depth, and dynamic tone mapping. All of this works in the background, it’s not something you need to get involved with.
Upscaling has enjoyed a big boost too, thanks to improvements made possible by smarter machine learning. Normally I try to avoid SD channels at all costs, but the C2 does such an impressive job of making them watchable, I might actually start paying attention.
The set’s input lag is OK. We measured latency at 13.1ms with 1080/60 content, Game mode engaged. But this is just the tip of a gaming iceberg. LG’s Game Optimizer interface offers a wealth of control for console and PC users, including game genre specific presets – and makes it easy to make the most of its four HDMI 2.1 connections.
Having all of its HDMI ports support VRR/4K 120Hz/ALLM is excellent, because it means that however many gaming devices you have or will have in the future, you've definitely got enough next-gen ports for make the most of them. It's peace of mind for gamers, basically. Support for all forms of VRR (including FreeSync Pro and G-Sync) only adds to this – this is absolutely one of the best TVs for PS5 because of all this.
LG OLED C2 review: picture quality
Here’s the headline news: the LG C2 delivers a significant advance in picture quality over its predecessor, the LG C1… but it's more significant at some sizes than others.
The model we reviewed is brighter for one thing, making it an easier watch when it comes to daylight viewing, because it's more likely to break through reflections and ambient light.
The uplift in average picture brightness is most evident in Standard and Eco picture defaults. These come with TruMotion in its Natural setting, and are perfect for afternoon telly and evening dramas alike.
The much vaunted brightness boosting technology employed here clearly makes a substantial difference to HDR performance too. There’s no hardware component to the Brightness Booster on this model (that’s reserved for the LG G2, which can go even brighter), but it works its magic with some clever algorithms.
The Alpha 9 Gen 5 processor is able to analyse images in real time, identifying where a picture is brighter and where it is darker. The algorithm then intelligently steers energy to give those brighter areas of the picture an extra boost.
When it comes to films, I rate the set’s Cinema Home mode as the best option. I think it gives a rather more punchy approach to movies, more so than the Filmmaker mode which can look a little flat, with increased mid-tone luminance. There’s a partnering Cinematic Movement TruMotion preset which is suitably filmic.
Other image smoothing modes include Natural, Smooth Movement (for sports) and a user adjustable setting with variable de-judder and de-blur.
Colour fidelity in its various Cinema modes is excellent, but if you want to see the set at its most ribald, take a run at the Vivid setting. It turbocharges greens and reds to almost cartoonish levels. For live-action content it’s simply too oversaturated to watch, this despite claims from LG that it had tuned down colour excess. You will definitely appreciate the balance and verisimilitude of the Cinema mode afterwards.
The model offers a wide range of HDR support, including Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG, although there’s no HDR10+ dynamic metadata support, as favoured by Amazon Prime Video.
Peak HDR performance is extremely good. Using the Standard image preset, measured straight out of the box, the C2 delivers HDR peaks upwards of 810 nits. That’s a notable jump over the LG C1's 750 nits – though I should mention that the LG G2 is capable of hitting 950 nits. Full field white screens also look significantly brighter than those on its predecessor.
However, we're discussing the 65-inch model here for these brightness measurements. Sadly, the 48-inch and 42-inch models don't include the higher brightness tech, and you should expect brightness at the same level as the LG C1. That's still very respectable, but there's no question that the 55-inch and up LG C2 models deliver visibly more HDR punch.
LG C2 review: sound quality
The LG C2 lacks the immersive speaker array you get from something like the Samsung QN95B, but it does a surprisingly decent job with what it has.
Select AI Sound Pro (during the initial setup) and the TV adds a level of sonic brightness to its presentation. Rather cleverly, audio appears to project forward from the screen, rather than directed down from the base of the set (which is where the speakers actually are). For most users this would be the preferred way of listening, at least when not used with one of the best soundbars for LG TVs.
If you want to hear audio without any surround effects or voice enhancement, opt for the Standard mode.
To make the most of Dolby Atmos content, plan to add one of the best soundbars or best surround sound systems – you just won't get much of a spatial audio effect from the TV without one.
LG C2 OLED review: design & usability
The LG C2 is astonishingly slim and surprisingly light, a result of a change in materials which brings rigidity to the back panel without excessive weight. The panel itself has a whisper thin border, so there’s little to distract you from its images. The screen sits on a central pedestal, which I think looks a lot better than the wide lip used last year. It’s also more practical when it comes to supporting AV furniture.
As well as the four HDMI 2.1 ports (HDMI 2 is flagged as being HDMI ARC/eARC ready), there’s an optical digital audio output, and Ethernet in addition to Wi-Fi.
The TV has both a terrestrial aerial input, supported by Freeview Play for UK buyers, and a generic satellite tuner.
LG's Magic remote control has slimmed down too. It feels like a more conventional wand in the hand, but still uses LG’s cursor-based pointer system. The remote comes with dedicated buttons for Netflix, Disney+, Rakuten TV and Prime Video.
The TV is also compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. These smart assistants allow you to change channels, search content, and control smart home devices with voice commands, working in tandem with LG’s ThinQ smart platform.
LG has tweaked the full-screen webOS software to include Profiles for family members, so there’s the promise of more tailored curation for each individual person, pulled from the various services you personally use. It’s also just generally pretty nippy to operate. There’s a new Always Ready mode, which allows the set to display digital art when in Standby mode, if you're one of the few not worried about energy bills currently.
LG C2 OLED review: verdict
Thanks to its brighter panel and all-new Alpha 9 Gen 5 processor, LG has managed to deliver a new level of picture performance from the C2 OLED… at sizes of 55 inches and up anyway. Its 4K images are refined and smooth, with pronounced dynamic range, and upscaling has never looked better. Simply put, this is a gorgeous telly to watch.
Couple this visual prowess with an enviable feature spread, including Game Optimizer for next-gen gamers, and you have a screen with huge appeal. To see one is to want one.
It's wonderful that LG has introduced 42-inch OLED for the first time, and this will obviously be a fantastic choice for bedroom and offices – especially for gaming fans, since you still get all the HDMI 2.1 features. But do bear in mind that the 42-inch and 48-inch versions don't get the extra brightness, so don't get quite as much praise heaped upon them by us.
It also means while we can accept the raised price of the LG C2 at launch compared to the C1 for the models that offer the brighter screen, it's harder to stomach for the smaller models, which don't offer such an image quality leap. That said, with Black Friday Deals on in abundance, the LG C2 is one of the best buys you'll be able to make at a discounted price point.
If you can spend the extra, the LG G2 is an even bigger jump in picture quality than the LG C2 – the extra brightness is whole new level of HDR, and the G2 really does offer the pinnacle of OLED image quality right now. However, it's more expensive, it's only available in 55 inches and up, and it doesn't come with any kind of stand, but a special flush wall mount instead (though you can buy a stand). Here's our full LG G2 review.
If you're looking at buying the LG C2 at launch, the really big competitor is probably… the LG C1. Still available at the time of writing, but now priced at around 30% cheaper than the launch price of the LG C2, it's extremely good value for money. You still get high-end processing, you still get four HDMI 2.1 ports and a full suite of gaming features, and you still get fantastic HDR performance – just not as good as the LG C2 at larger sizes. Here's our full LG C1 review, and we've got an LG C2 vs LG C1 comparison if you want more info.