The LG C series has been the iconic OLED TV for several years. And with good reason, the TVs combine excellent image quality and extensive gaming features at a decent price. The OLED55C3 is the youngest member of this family. We wonder how big the gap with the G3 has become and whether the C3 can still live up to its favorite role.
LG OLED55C34LA – Specifications
|What||Ultra HD 4K 120 Hz W-OLED-tv|
|Format||55-inch (139 cm) train|
|Connections||4x HDMI (4x v2.1 (48 Gbps), ARC/eARC, ALLM, VRR, HFR), 3x USB, 1x optical digital uit, 2x antenna, 1x IR blaster, Bluetooth 5.0, WiSA|
|Extra’s||HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision IQ, Dolby Atmos, WiFi (802.11ac) built-in, webOS 23, AirPlay 2, USB/DLNA media player, DVB-T2/C/S2, CI+ slot, Alpha 9 Gen 6 processor|
|Dimensions||1.222 x 757 x 230 mm (incl. voet)|
|Weight||16 kg (incl. foot)|
|Consumption||SDR 81 W (G) / HDR 143 W (G)|
LG OLED55C34LA – Design
The most striking design detail of the LG C Series is still the podium base. It has become more compact since last year but retains its distinctive character. The setup is stable, but the connection between the screen and the base does not prevent it from wobbling slightly.
OLED screens have long had a very fine bezel that curves to the back as if it were part of the screen. This C3, like the C2, has a fine metal edge that sits around the screen like a subtle bumper.
And this TV also catches the eye at the rear. The back has a horizontally ribbed structure. The housing with connections and electronics has a fine grain structure and straight edges. The workmanship is excellent, and the C3 looks and feels like a luxury TV.
LG OLED55C34LA – Connections
Like the G3, the C3 has four HDMI 2.1 connections. This makes it one of the few that provides four times 48Gbps bandwidth. Support for ALLM, VRR, 2K, 4K HFR, and ARC/eARC is available on HDMI 2. QMS (Quick Media Switching) is also available so that you no longer see a black image with sources that switch from one frame rate to another for a few seconds. Both the source and the TV must support QMS, and if the signal also changes resolution simultaneously, you will still see that black image.
We also find three USB ports, an optical digital audio output, two antenna connections, an Ethernet port, and WiFi. Those who want to use headphones must choose a Bluetooth one. An IR output and included IR blaster make it easy to control other devices even if they’re in a cabinet. The C3 does not support WiSA (Wireless Speaker and Audio Association).
Ease of use and smart TV
A smooth and responsive smart TV environment and a good selection of apps and features are the best guarantee for satisfaction. LG has kept that in mind when adjusting this new webOS version. Instead of many screens that you don’t visit anyway but which have to load, you only have to scroll down again from the Home screen.
And on the Home screen, several features and apps are now bundled in Quick Cards, centrally displayed. On the far left, you will always find the most recent source; there are Quick Cards for Home Office, Games, Music, the Home Hub (for all your IoT devices), and Sports. Those Quick Cards are, as it were, a folder, just like on your smartphone. You can swap them around or even hide them. Unfortunately, half of the screen is reserved for sponsored content, a trend that we see everywhere but regret.
We think Quick Cards are an excellent idea, and it would be even better if you couldn’t add apps yourself or create your Quick Card.
LG has also expanded the Quick Menu. There are more options, you can personalize it, and the most recent setting you called up appears at the top. That makes it all a lot more convenient to adjust something quickly.
We have a complete overview of webOS23, where you will find everything again in detail.
The remote control of the C3 is the same as that of the G3. It’s comfortable to hold, and once you get used to the remote’s pointing function, it’s extremely easy to use. You can do that if you want to use it without the pointing function. Our only complaint is that the keystroke is quite heavy.
The numeric keypad isn’t just for selecting TV channels. You can easily link those keys to an app or set a specific TV channel. Long press the ‘0’ key to call up that menu.
The C3 has a single TV tuner for digital TV (DVB-T2/C/S2) and a CI+ slot. Watching and recording another channel at the same time is not possible. There is support for Apple Airplay 2 and Google Cast for YouTube and Netflix. The media player supports major formats, subtitles, and HDR. Only Xvid refuses. Since this year, LG has supported DTS again. It plays the soundtracks and can pass them on to an AV receiver via eARC.
The Quick Cards offers many additional functions, from extensive home office options to sports results. With Always Ready, you turn the TV into a decorative piece in the living room. Multi-View, launched via the Quick Menu, lets you view two sources simultaneously. However, not all combinations are possible. For example, you cannot combine live TV with an HDMI input. Two HDMI sources are then possible. Another new feature in webOS is the personal image settings wizard. The TV shows you several images, and based on which of those images you prefer, it creates a personal set of settings for you.
LG OLED55C34LA – Image processing
The C3’s image processing matches the results we saw on the G3. That is, of course, no surprise because both models use the same processor, the Alpha9 Gen6. The improvements compared to last year are limited. An AI Super-resolution upscaling algorithm delivers excellent noise reduction and beautiful upscaling. Be careful with the ‘Sharpness’ and ‘Super resolution’ settings; creating false detail is easy. The processor also has a solid solution for block formation and color bands. Set ‘MPEG noise reduction’ and ‘Smooth gradation’ to the ‘Low’ position, and most image defects disappear. Only in our Game of Thrones scene did we have to swerve to the middle position. There is minimal loss of detail; in such cases, you can decide whether to leave a little banding behind. Like the G3, the C3 failed with an obvious combing effect in one of our deinterlacing tests but proved to be no problem in further testing.
No novelties in terms of motion sharpness. Thanks to its fast response time, the OLED screen is not bothered by lingering images or vague edges. The finest detail remains hidden, but it remains a very good result. You can activate Black Frame Insertion (BFI ) via the ‘OLED Motion’ setting, but the minimal extra detail is not worth it since the image then visibly flickers. You can activate motion interpolation via TruMotion. Fast camera movements in movies are then displayed smoothly. The C3 can do that without introducing excessive image artifacts but can’t always keep pace with fast motion. ‘Cinematographic Movement’ is the best setting for purists.
|General||Advanced Setting||Advanced Setting|
|Picture Mode: Filmmaker Mode / Cinema
Aspect Ratio: Original Scanning: On
General / Energy Saving: Off or Auto
OLED Pixel Brightness: 80
Color Depth: 50
OLED Motion: off
LG OLED55C34LA – Picture quality
The C3 uses an OLED evo panel with Brightness Booster, the same panel as last year. The MLA layer is reserved for the G3.
Our sample had very good uniformity, with no visible deviation in dark and bright images. You get fantastic images from the Filmmaker mode that presents a top calibration. A touch of blue is missing in the brightest shades of the grayscale, but even then, the error remained below the visible limit. The colors are amazing, with very accurate skin tones.
The only comment we can make is that a little bit of black detail is missing, but fortunately, that does not lead to disturbing flaws. This was hardly noticeable in the Harry Potter scene and certainly not in The Revenant. You can always switch to Cinema mode, which uses a gamma that reveals a little more black detail.
LG OLED55C34LA – HDR
THERE IS no MLA panel, so there is no impressive peak brightness increase like on the G3. In Filmmaker mode, we measure a peak of 880 nits on a 10% window and 170 nits on the completely white screen. It is striking that LG is quite generous with light across the line; only on the completely white field does it squeeze the light a little more. But rest assured, these are excellent results and put the C3 clearly at the forefront of the list in this category. Just to give a comparison, the G2 could only outperform 8% on the 2% and 10% windows, but it lags over 20% on the medium windows, while the all-white field gives identical results.
The color range of 97% DCI-P3 and 70% Rec.2020 is what we expect from an OLED TV. The Filmmaker Mode is exemplary calibrated and neatly respects the HDR10 metadata so that all white detail is visible. Just like on the G3, a minimal amount of black detail is missing, but that does not cause any pronounced problems.
Just like the G3, the C3 uses ‘OLED Dynamic Tonemapping Pro’, where the TV divides the screen into many zones that can individually give an optimal tone map. Unfortunately, that sometimes went wrong on the G3, with sometimes affected colors. On the C3, that problem seems to have disappeared completely (software version 03.11.45). With dynamic tone mapping activated, you get some extra black detail in dark images. In very clear mastered images, we see that the tone mapping recovers a lot of color and depth that would otherwise be lost. We also didn’t see the algorithm go wrong anywhere, so leave it safely activated. We have also extensively tested the ‘Expression Enhancer’ again but still see only limited added value. The ‘Detail’ mode accentuates the dark parts of the image somewhat, while ‘Brightness’ generally brightens the image. We found the latter to be avoided, the former is a possible choice, but the impact is limited. HDR images look excellent on the C3 anyway.
Gaming, Reflections, and viewing angles
LIKE ALL OLED TVs, the C3 has a very good viewing angle, although it has to admit it’s superior to the G3 with the new MLA screen. It repels reflections well but avoids direct incident light.
Gamers have a tough job with the C3. First of all, there are four HDMI 2.1 connections. They use ALLM, VRR (HDMI VRR, Nvidia G-Sync, and AMD FreeSync), and 4K120. Dolby Vision 4K120Hz gaming (for Xbox Series X) is supported. Then there is an excellent input lag of 10.4ms (4K60) and 5.7ms (2K120). Finally, there is the extensive game dashboard that indicates your FPS, input-lag mode, and HDR, and you can quickly adjust several settings, both for image and sound.
LG OLED55C34LA – Sound quality
The 2.2 speaker system with 40 watts of power supports Dolby Atmos and new this year, now also DTS: X. That is an important novelty because it means you can now pass DTS in all its forms via eARC to an external audio setup. The C3 can adjust the audio to the room acoustics; you must go through a short procedure. The configuration delivers sufficient volume and keeps the distortion under control at normal volumes. If you ask a little more, you risk hearing some distortion; the sound will become messy. There is enough bass in the sound, which is generally very warm. That is particularly pleasant for music. Voices are clear, and the TV produces a reasonable but limited surround effect. Avoid the AI setting for audio, especially music,
LG OLED55C34LA – Conclusion
There is little point in denying it; the gulf between the G3 and C3 has become significant. Where the G3 makes a huge leap in brightness with its new panel, the LG OLED55C3 can only present some minor improvements. But that doesn’t stop the C3 from maintaining its status as an iconic OLED TV can confirm. It combines excellent peak brightness, fantastic colors, perfect contrast, and good image processing. Both in SDR and HDR, the images are to die for. The C3 is very equipped for gamers, with four HDMI 2.1 ports and all the required features. The audio performance is fine, and the good news is that the C3 can also handle DTS, one of the few novelties. The improvements to webOS are welcome; this smart TV system remains one of our favorites. The only real comment we can make? The price is high, especially for a TV that is not that different from its predecessor. It can be worthwhile to wait a little longer, as the price battle often becomes tougher in the autumn.
- Excellent peak brightness for OLED
- Excellent calibration
- Very good image processing
- Impressive HDR images
- HDMI 2.1 and a wide selection of gamer features
- Great sound, including Dolby Atmos and DTS
- WebOS 23 is even more user-friendly