Hands on: LG CX 48-inch OLED (OLED48CXPUA) Review

We go hands-on with LG's new smaller 48-inch 4K OLED to find out if it can keep up with its big brothers in terms of quality and features.

First Impressions

With a smaller screen size that will suit a lot of people, the LG CX 48-inch OLED (OLED48CXPUA) opens up OLED technology to a wider range of people that have been wanting a high-quality 4K television. While the TV may be smaller than previous models, it's big on features, with Filmmaker Mode, Dolby Vision IQ and Nvidia G-Sync technology all built in.

Key Specifications

  • New Filmmaker Mode
  • α9 Gen 3 processor
  • 48-inch OLED display
  • Nvidia G-Sync built-in
  • Supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant natively
  • Support for Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG, plus new Dolby Vision IQ

If there’s been one problem with OLED TVs in general, it’s that they’ve all been massive, with the smallest options still a hefty 55-inch. This year, things change and we got a hands-on look at the LG 48-inch OLED (OLED48CXPUA).

LG CX 48-inch OLED (OLED48CXPUA) design – Small enough (just about) to use on a desk

Now, dropping the diagonal screen size by seven inches may not sound like a lot but the OLED48CXPUA feels sufficiently smaller than its predecessors. In fact, it’s small enough that it could be placed on a desk easily enough if you wanted a large 4K display to use.

More likely than not, this size TV makes it easier for people with smaller lounges or those that don’t want their living room to be dominated by the television to buy into OLED.

As you can see from the image, the OLED48CXPUA looks and feels significantly smaller than the models that went before it, and I think that this size will be a big success in the UK where rooms are traditionally smaller than in the US.

Externally the OLED48CXPUA looks very similar to last year’s C9. Slim bezels, a very slim panel and a neat stand make this TV as attractive as last year’s model.

As with last year’s model, this model has four HDMI 2.1 inputs (three side and one rear), which gives you plenty of options for connecting up devices.

LG CX 48-inch OLED (OLED48CXPUA) features – Pretty much every mode and standard that you could want

LG has gone to town this year with this model, and it has pretty much every feature and standard that you could want. For HDR, there’s support for Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG, plus this model gets the new Dolby Vision IQ tech. This uses the ambient light sensor in the TV to adjust the HDR mode to suit the level of light. In other words, whether you watch in a bright room or a darkened room, you get the same level of performance.

Well, that’s the theory, as I haven’t seen the tech in operation, only seeing the TV operate in a darkened hotel room in Las Vegas. We’ll have to see how it performs when we get a model in for review.

There’s also the Filmmaker Mode, a new feature endorsed by Hollywood, which is designed to show films the way that they were meant to be displayed, including turning off certain features (motion processing and noise reduction) and maintaining colours and aspect ratios. Expect to hear a lot more about this in reviews of 2020 televisions.

LG CX 48-inch OLED (OLED48CXPUA) Filmmaker Mode

Filmmaker Mode is designed to show content the way the creators intended

Voice Assistant wise you’re spoilt for choice, as the TV supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant natively so that you can voice-control your television using the provided remote control. WebOS, the TV’s operating system, also supports Apple HomeKit, so you can use your phone to turn your TV on or off, or do the same thing with your voice using Siri either via your phone or a HomePod.

There’s also Nvidia G-Sync built-in, letting the TV produce smoother frame rates from a PC, turning this into a proper screen for gamers. The TV can run at up to 120fps at a resolution of 4K.

All processing is handled by the α9 Gen 3 processor, which is able to perform some clever feats, such as setting the picture mode automatically by detecting what kind of content is on screen. Check out the LG TV 2020 guide for more information.

LG CX 48-inch OLED (OLED48CXPUA) performance – Looks set to be a winner

It’s always hard to judge a TV’s performance based on the demo footage that you’re shown but we saw enough to form some opinions. First, I saw a demonstration of Filmmaker Mode. As well as turning off some of the processing, what the screen does depends on the mode.

For HDR content, there’s little difference, bar noise reduction is turned off. For SDR content, the screen drops its brightness to 100nits.

There are good reasons for doing this but the main one is that it lets the display produce a flat response rate: you get 100nits across the entire display even when showing a completely white screen. At higher brightness levels, the measured response differs depending on how much brightness there is in the picture.

With its more consistent picture, the OLED48CXPUA should be more capable of showing films as intended. The downside, of course, is that this mode is really designed for watching films when it’s dark; in brightly lit rooms, you’ll want to change to a different mode manually or adjust the brightness up temporarily.

For Filmmaker Mode, LG has enabled automatic detection of content. The first time film content is detected, the TV asks if you want to switch to Filmmaker mode automatically. If you say Yes, you never get the message again; if you say No, the next time you watch you get the message; if you say No Never you never get the option again and the mode stays off. You can change your mind later in the main menu.

Watching HDR content on this display, I was impressed by the level of detail and clarity. Last year’s C9 won our Best TV of the Year award and it’s easy to see this year’s models maintaining the high review scores.

Next, I saw a game being played on the TV, running using G-Sync from a PC. Currently, Nvidia graphics cards support HDMI 2.0 only, so the footage runs at 120fps with a 4K resolution, but only a 4:2:0 colour encoding; when Nvidia supports HDMI 2.2, LG has told me that the TV can do 120fps at 4K using 4:4:4 for greater colour depth.

LG CX 48-inch OLED (OLED48CXPUA) G-Sync

G-Sync turns this TV into a proper gaming display

What’s impressive about OLED as a gaming platform is that there’s no difference in response or input lag regardless of the mode that you put the TV in, so you can pick the mode that looks best. There’s still a Gaming mode, which turns off some features that don’t apply to games including motion interpolation and 24p content detection.

LG CX 48-inch OLED (OLED48CXPUA) early verdict

The full judgement will come when the TV comes in for review but the first impression is that this TV has the right traits to be a winner. The smaller size opens up the quality of OLED to new people that don’t want a massive television, while the range of features and options show this to be a TV that can keep up with the high end, delivering the quality that those that want the best from games and films demand.

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