LG C9 OLED TV Review

LG C9 OLED TV Review

Last Updated on October 1, 2021 by Daniel Osakwe

LG is facing an interesting problem as a result of the success of OLED – at this point, the company is basically competing against itself. The reason is LG Display, the company’s technology research arm, sells panels to every manufacturer except Samsung (no surprises there), leaving LG Electronics with an already crowded market. The Korean giant is left with only one option: what?

Despite being several years old, it makes its four-screen OLED TVs the most feature-packed TVs money can buy.

LG’s C9 represents the midrange of its 2019 TV range, adding the superior Alpha9 processor to the cheaper B9 while skipping the expensive cosmetic features found on models higher up the line. Thus, the specs are quite impressive as well as the pricing is competitive.

In addition, the C9 offers the same benefits as the more expensive OLED TVs in the lineup, including a 2nd generation Alpha9 processor with AI enhancements, enhanced sound with AI processing, and a smart platform with added AI.

Design

LG C9

Design-wise, there aren’t too many changes between the LG C9 and the LG C8-but that’s fine as well. A sloped stand directs sound into the listener’s ears, which is the same on the C9 OLED and C9 LED. This bezel-less display is encased in an attractive brushed metal finish on all sides, including the stand and the rear.

In addition to that, LG has introduced HDMI 2.1 for the first time this year. A newer version of HDMI not only supports 48Gbps speeds but also 120Hz frame rates. Further, eARC (enhanced audio return channel), variable refresh rates (VRR), and a low latency mode (ALLM) are included as well.

The only manufacturer of 2019 4K TVs to include HDMI 2.1 is LG, which gives them a competitive advantage over the competition, which won’t support HDMI 2.1 until 2020. LG’s new TVs are future-proofed, regardless of what emerges with HDMI 2.0b, as opposed to other manufacturers.

Three HDMI inputs are located on the sides, and one is located at the back. In addition to the USB ports, there is also a satellite and terrestrial tuner, a LAN port, a CI slot, and an optical digital output, along with a line out that also serves as a headphone jack. In terms of wireless connectivity, there is built-in WiFi (802.11ac), Bluetooth (5.0), and AirPlay 2.

LG also includes the latest Magic Remote in the C9, which features a fantastic ergonomic design like the rest of LG’s OLED and Nano Cell lines. Thanks to the precision on-screen pointer, the controller is highly intuitive and comfortable to hold. By comparison, five minutes with this zapper is nothing.

LG’s remote looks the same as last year, but it has icons instead of lettering – presumably, so it can be used across international markets. In addition to the built-in microphone, this year’s model has direct access keys for Netflix, Amazon, and Rakuten.

Smart TV (webOS with ThinQ AI)

Despite the fact that the LG C9 boasts the latest version of WebOS, a few tweaks have been made to this game-changing platform.

Firstly, the launcher bar now features a second-tier reminiscent of Samsung’s Tizen system. Even though it is ironic that LG should take its inspiration from Samsung, especially since Tizen copied webOS, the second tier makes content easier to access and adds AI Preview that makes recommendations based on your viewing habits. Also available is Intelligent Edit, which organizes your apps according to how often you use them.

There are a lot of apps on the C9, and it has a comprehensive selection of streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Now TV, Rakuten, and all the catch-up services for UK TV.

Using artificial intelligence, the recommendation system monitors and analyzes your viewing habits based on both content and time of day. After analyzing your data, the software will offer recommendations, although it has the option to be turned off if it becomes too bothersome.

There’s now a new Home Dashboard that brings together all connected IoT devices, mobile, and input, into one place. The LG smart home will support Homekit later this year, so you can monitor and control just about any connected device.

With a future firmware update, LG plans to add Amazon Alexa to its ThinQ open AI platform, which already supports Google Assistant. The mic button on the remote gives you access to Google, and you can then control your C9 with voice commands or simply use it as a smart assistant.

In addition, you can now set up your C9 using an LG smartphone, and HDMI devices will automatically detect when connected. Additionally, TripAdvisor has added a mini-browser, a TV channel banner, and an expanded Gallery mode with world-famous travel attractions.

HD/SDR Performance

LG C9

LG C9 offers all the benefits of an OLED TV: incredibly deep blacks and exceptional contrast ratios. Additionally, it produces perfectly saturated and natural colors.

With its bright, punchy images and vibrant colors, the default Standard picture mode is sure to please many. The ISF modes offer accuracy that conforms to industry standards, so those seeking them will be happy. These results are not surprising, as the C8 offered the same level of image fidelity and black levels.

Aside from the deep learning algorithms incorporated into the Alpha9 processor, a significant impact is made on the image by the newer hardware. In this process, millions of content examples are accessed, and the picture is analyzed and then optimized according to the type and quality of content.

Using this method, you can precisely upscale low-resolution images, reduce noise, and enhance their quality. In Gravity, the detailed starfields looked better than in any other display I have seen.

First introduced last year, de-contouring now has its own control in the menu and is highly effective at reducing banding in compressed content. Additionally, there’s AI Brightness, a feature that detects ambient light and optimizes brightness based on the viewing environment, so dark areas of the picture can be seen more clearly.

SDR images with such detail, precision, and accuracy are the result of all of this processing. With the 4K panel, you will see an image that is smooth, free from noise and pixelation, as well as one which makes the most of all of the pixels. We were also delighted to see that there weren’t any flashy artifacts in the picture, as we have seen before with LG OLEDs.

Compared to last year, Motion Pro’s black frame insertion (BFI) feature appears to perform better and has fewer flickering issues. Overall, LG is still a little aggressive when it comes to motion handling, which is the one area where it falls short of the competition.

With an output lag of 12.7ms, the gaming performance is excellent. Considering the C9’s OS and VRR, that’s incredibly low, and when combined with ALLM, you’ve got an obvious winner. In addition, LG employs a number of features that mitigate image retention (commonly referred to as burn-in).

4K/HDR Performance

In spite of only hitting a brightness peak of 780 nits, the LG C9 delivered equally impressive HDR performance. (OLED panels cannot achieve the bright levels seen on LCD-based technologies, like Samsung’s QLED, but they have many other advantages you’ll find out shortly.)

Firstly there are those amazing blacks, and these are important since the dynamic range ranges from absolute black to peak white. In addition, LG has improved the performance just above black, so that more shadow detail can be seen. Unlike previous OLEDs, the C9 wasn’t affected by the black-out issue.

Each pixel of an OLED is individually dimmable since it is self-emitting. The result is an OLED that delivers remarkable detail in the specular highlights that make HDR so powerful. Tone mapping ensures that these highlights are never lost in detail or clipped.

In watching the scene in First Man in which Apollo 11 begins its journey around the moon, these factors were evident. As the window of the command module opens, the lunar surface appears. The C9 delivered a perfect performance in this scene, which only an OLED can provide.

It covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color space used for HDR. As seen on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with its incredibly saturated image, the C9 rendered it in all its glory.

Several years ago, LG introduced a feature called Dynamic Tone Mapping, which is particularly useful when addressing OLED’s inherent brightness limitations. The algorithm analyzes each scene frame-by-frame and adjusts the tone mapping accordingly to improve HDR quality. The C9 boasts an improved version of this feature, and the results are impressive.

Additionally, the LG has Dolby Vision support in addition to broadcast HLG and HDR10. Dynamic metadata is used in content such as streaming and 4K Blu-ray (not to be confused with dynamic tone mapping). While the content catalog for HDR10+ is small at present, it’s growing rapidly.

LG currently does not support HDR10+; in fact, it’s the only HDR version it doesn’t offer. Unfortunately, Philips and Panasonic both sell OLED TVs that support Dolby Vision and HDR10+, a fact that will undoubtedly appeal to those looking for both formats in their TV.

Sound

With only 46.9 millimeters for its length at the bottom and a mere millimeter at its top, the LG C9 is particularly impressive. LG has used clever artificial intelligence to provide acoustic assistance, even though this doesn’t leave much room for speakers.

First of all, your new C9 is actually able to be customized for the exact room you want to use it in. New features include the One Touch Sound Tuning feature, which uses the microphone on the remote to assess the room from your primary listening position and set up the TV accordingly.

As soon as the AI acoustic tuning is finished, you can compare before and after. It preserves excellent detail and crisp clarity because of this feature. Also available are three modes; Standard provides the best results. Nonetheless, you can boost the treble and bass if you wish, and the results are impressive.

Furthermore, there is an AI Sound mode, which up-mixes 2 channel audio to 5.1 channel surround sound. The sound is made to feel bigger and opens thanks to the application of clever psychoacoustic tricks. Despite the clear dialogue, the music and effects are more enveloping, while the bass is surprisingly deep.

This year’s C9 also supports Dolby Atmos. However, in this mode, AI processing is not possible, so why would you try? Even though the TV creates its sound field with just a pair of speakers, Dolby Atmos is natively encoded with discrete surround channels. The audio capabilities of modern TVs are nothing short of amazing.

Pros Cons
Dolby Vision and Atmos Lacks HDR10+ support
AI-enhanced smart platform Limited HDR brightness
Gorgeous design
Awesome black levels and contrast

Conclusion

With the LG C9, LG has created a truly exceptional 4K OLED TV that takes what made the LG C8 so stunning and takes it to a whole new level. As a result of the addition of the Alpha9 processor, which has been updated to version 2, the HDMI upscaling and processing is best in class, allowing for a truly exceptional level of detail and image fidelity.

In contrast to LCD televisions, the panel brightness of this OLED TV is quite dim compared to that of an LCD screen. Self-evaporating technology makes HDR look stunning since it guarantees perfect black levels and precise pixel measurements. In addition to Dolby Vision, HDR10+ is not supported.

Finally, the TV’s smart platform remains top-of-the-line, and it has now been enhanced by the addition of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. While webOS has been tweaked, it still offers a wide range of streaming services and AI-enhanced recommendations. In the meantime, the new Home Dashboard transforms your TV into a smart home hub.

LG C9 represents real advancement in the development of OLED, and it not only delivers amazing images and sounds, but it’s the smartest 4K TV you can buy.