LG C9 OLED TV Review
We’re at a point in the 4K lifecycle where almost every model of TV is “good enough”. Even the cheaper, older models are able to capture the range of colours and high performance to bring out the best in whatever’s on-screen. However, LG’s 2019 C9 OLED raises the bar in both quality and elegance when it comes to the 4K TV sets.
Having toyed around with their 2018 C8 last year, I was positive that the ceiling had been reached until 8K becomes the dominant trend. I was wrong. The C9 OLED, while a costly investment, is a technical marvel.
Out of The Box
The C9 is available in 55, 65, and 77 inches. I had the opportunity to play around with the 65” for this review. Upon opening the box, the TV unit itself is scarily thin, measuring in at around a quarter of an inch. Despite the thickness—or lack thereof, the unit itself is quite sturdy.
LG hasn’t reinvented the wheel when it comes to design, but that's not a negative. The lower portion houses four HDMI 2.1 ports, three USB ports, ethernet, power supply, speakers, and digital optical output. Yet, with all this built into the rear and the side of the TV, nothing from a design perspective is lost.
The C9 is as minimalist as it gets, with almost no bezel around the screen. Touching on the C9’s stand, I have to say that the shift towards manufacturing centre stands is welcoming. Plus, the way the stand contours, sound from the bottom speakers is directed towards the audience. Set up and placement of the C9 is effortless. It took roughly 10-15 minutes from unpacking to setting up Wi-Fi and getting to the good stuff.
Putting The Smart In Smart TV
LG’s Magic Remote control returns and truthfully, I’ve never been a huge fan of the design. The remote is a bit bulky and overwhelming with button options, especially when compared to Samsung’s Smart Remote. However, the efficiency of the Magic Wand does make up for the design.
Working with LG’s webOS 4.5 system, the remote is able to read voice commands and respond in a quick manner. You’re able to make volume adjustments, select apps within the TV, and swap between inputs. With the Magic Remote, I was also able to navigate option through the Xbox One X and select apps within the console—though it was all through the selection wheel and not the on-screen pointer. Google Assistant and Alexa can be synced to the TV to provide a hands-free experience.
If interacting with AI and using movement controls isn’t your cup of tea, the Magic remote also has two quick-select buttons for Netflix and Amazon Prime. You’ll also have access to Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, plus many more apps can be downloaded on the C9.
A lot of the core AI and Smart TV features aren’t new by LG standards. The C8 a lot of the same features out of the box. However, the efficiency and quick responses are noticed in the C9, making small improvements to the quality of life features that otherwise go unnoticed by other manufacturers.
Power Behind The Screen
The C9 is a powerhouse when it comes to OLED performance. Since there is no backlighting, all pixels are self-emitting. This results in one of the crispest picture quality I’ve seen in a home entertainment unit. The panel of the C9 remains the same from last year’s, though the a9 processor Gen 2, which is the beating heart, has been upgraded.
The C9 reaches a beautiful level of colour, with a wide range to boot. As a result of each HDR Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro, the C9 can obtain a wide colour gamut and picture-perfect realism. Even the lack of colour is spectacular. As each pixel is reacting with precision, shadows and deep blacks never become washed out due to any bleeding effect.
As I received my review unit, it was also the weekend when Netflix dropped the third season of Stranger Things. There was no better time to jump in. For those that have watched the last episode of season three, you’ll know how rich the colour spectrum was during those final scenes. Some of the great lighting effects and cinematography were leveraged by the way the C9 handles a wide array of colours. Even if you’re not taking advantage of a 4K source, the C9 can upscale images provided a slightly better product. The a9 processor Gen 2 uses algorithmic AI learning to optimize images for a better viewing experience.
C9 provides a number of picture modes built-in. Cinema Mode takes advantage of Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG. Of course, you can always roll up your sleeves and get into the settings to fine tune the contrast and saturation. Though I was able to settle on the Vivid picture setting, which really let the colours shine without the extra hassle. Typically out of the box, my first order of business is to determine if TruMotion is turned off—and I keep it that way. Some prefer the “soap opera effect”, but I think it often takes away from immersive experiences. TruMotion runs as you’d expect on the C9 and suffice to say, the usage tests were short.
Viewing angles are fairly upheld to the norm when it comes to the C9. Unless you’re sitting off to the side, peeking in on what’s on the screen, quality is maintained even if you are off centre. If you are like me and have the sun penetrating your living room most of the day, you’ll be pleased to know that the C9 (along with the C8) can still excel when in a bright room. LG has kept the glare to a minimum. If glare and loss of picture quality do become a hindrance, LG has included a Peak Brightness option, boosting picture brightness. The C9 also features a light sensor so it is able to react and adjust to the lighting in the room.
My time with LG’s C9 also fell during the time The Coalition launched the Gears 5 Tech Test. Being the latest showcase of 4K to come from the Xbox Game Studios, I had to give it a whirl. Seeing as though Gears 5 was running at 4K 60FPS, the results were quite staggering when seen on the C9. Swapping over to the Instant Game Response settling, input lag is very minimal. Playing a competitive mode such as Gears 5’s Ranked Mode, shaving off milliseconds of input lag can be a saving grace. Though, you’d have to have a really keen eye to tell the difference between the C8 and C9’s response time. You’ll also find that the Xbox One does provide a Variable Refresh Rate via HDMI 2.1.
Recently, LG has begun launching an update to support Apple’s HomeKit and AirPlay 2. Unfortunately, I was unable to test the update. Though, once implemented, users will be able to navigate and control the C9 (and future models) through the Home app and iOS. The amount of customization within the options is welcoming, though it can be a bit overwhelming to those who enjoy plug-and-play experiences. Luckily, the Magic Remote makes navigating the dashboard. Due to integrations with Google Play Movies & TV, the C9 has a large catalogue of additional services.
You’ll also find the Gallery Mode option within the dashboard if you want to bring a little class into the living room. These framed pictures are more a tech showcase demonstrating the vast array of colours and realism the TV can provide. TripAdvisor also provides a curated selection of stills, each with their own background music.
Though the range of differences between LG’s C8 and C9 are limited, the C9 is the best in class so far this year. If you are in the market for a brand new 4K TV, this model should not be overlooked. The C9 comes packed with enough quality of life features that not only go a long way in making it simple to use but simple to integrate into your smart home.
LG sets the standard of picture quality and design when it comes to 4K TVs in 2019. The a9 Gen 2 processor packs a punch when upscaling 720p and 1080p images. It also provides stellar visuals in both light and dark environments. HDMI 2.1 support is a winning feature for those looking to make the most of 4K content through external devices.
Pricing ranges depending on each model. The 55” C9 costs $2,699.99 CAD. For the 65” TV set, the unity typically runs for $3,799.99 CAD. Alternatively, you can bump up to the 77”, but must bite the bullet on a $8,999 CAD investment.