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LG OLED55CX Review

LG's mid-range C-series OLED returns with improved AI skills, Dolby Vision IQ and Filmmaker Mode

Verdict

The CX is another superb OLED TV from LG boasting excellent 4K images, improved upscaling/motion and gaming abilities, all for less than the C9 was when it went on sale. It's not the huge leap over the C9, but this is an outstanding effort from LG and the added customisations are welcome. The only major blot is the continuing lack of some UK catch-up TV apps

Pros

  • Excellent picture quality
  • Great design
  • Plenty of smarts, features and customisation
  • Excellent upscaling

Cons

  • Still missing a few UK catch-up apps
  • Just a small leap over the C9

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1799
  • HDM 2.1
  • Filmmaker Mode
  • Dolby Vision IQ
  • eARC, ALLM, VRR
  • Nvidia G-Sync
  • Weight: 23kg

The LG CX OLED (LG OLED55CX) is the South Korean manufacturer’s mid-range OLED TV for 2020, offering new features at a more affordable price than the 2019 C9.

The first OLED TV to ever go on sale was from Sony. The XEL-1 had a screen size of 11-inches and a native 960 x 540 resolution. All that real estate would have cost $2499.99 back in 2008.

Fast-forward to 2020 and LG’s C-series OLED shows how far the screen technology has come. Perfect black levels, rich contrast, slim design and more smart features than you know what to do with for the price of £1799.

Much like last year’s C9 OLEDs, LG hasn’t reinvented the wheel, but nudged it far enough to extract more performance from its mid-range OLED.

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LG CX (OLED55CX) design — A well-built and stylish TV

There’s not much difference between the LG CX and the 2019 C9, but take nothing away from what LG has accomplished. The CX is another sleek, minimalist set that would make any room more attractive.

The CX’s screen is suitably ridiculous in terms of depth, though the bottom rear panel – where the 40W speaker system, α9 Gen3 AI Processor and physical connections reside – adds some girth to the CX’s waistline.

The screen sits on a central stand, which also helps to reduce the clutter of cables around the back, and acts as a counterweight to ensure the screen doesn’t topple over. Assembly requires two people, though you could get by with one despite the 55-inch version tipping the scales at 23kg.

Putting the TV together is a relatively simple process of attaching the central stand and plinth to the main body. Like all OLED screens, assembly requires some care, lest you want to get your fingerprints all over it or damage the screen.

Around the back are the usual assortment of connections. On the rear there’s a headphone out: optical out, Ethernet, satellite and terrestrial inputs, 2 x USB and a HDMI 2.1 connection. The side-facing connections include the other HDMI 2.1 connections (all four support 4K/120Hz), a USB port and a CI (Common Interface) slot. As the CX uses LG’s Simplink (HDMI CEC), there’s control over connected devices with the Magic Remote

Related: Every 8K and 4K LG OLED and NanoCell TV explained

LG CX (OLED55CX) features — An exhaustive set of features

All four HDMI ports are 2.1 enabled, but only offer 40Gbps of bandwidth compared to the full 48Gbps of the 2019 OLED range. As full bandwidth is only needed for resolutions and frames rates higher than the market can currently offer, it’s nothing to be sore about.

HDMI 2.1 brings eARC, ALLM (Auto Low Latency) and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) into play. The first ensures pass-through of lossless audio (such as Dolby Atmos) to an external speaker. ALLM means the OLED55CX’s display produces lower latency when connected to a game console; VRR syncs the display to match the console’s frame rate for less tearing and stutter. This, alongside 4K/120Hz compatibility, ensures the CX is suited and booted to cope with the demands of the PS5 and Xbox Series X.

Related: What is HDMI 2.1?

The G-Sync technology requires a Nvidia GTX or RTX 16-Series GPU to work

Further gaming features include NVIDIA G-Sync compatibility for less stutter and flicker with PC games. The TV also meets the HGiG’s (HDR Gaming Interest Group) standard for consistent HDR gaming performance.

HDR10, Broadcast HLG (supported by BBC iPlayer and Sky Q) and Dolby Vision HDR are supported. The lack of HDR10+ is an annoyance – 4K Blu-rays and Prime Video support it – but the way Dolby Vision is attaching itself, limpet-style, to streaming services makes it less of a concern. For completeness sake, it would be welcome.

Related: What is Filmmaker Mode?

New for 2020 is Filmmaker Mode and Dolby Vision IQ. Filmmaker Mode is backed by the UHD Alliance, Hollywood creatives and the majority of TV makers. It disables picture enhancements and preserves a film’s creative intent that would have Messrs Scorsese, Jenkins, Coogler and Nolan nodding in approval.

Cinema mode                                                                          Filmmaker Mode

Filmmaker Mode is best viewed in darker conditions (getting close to the environment the film/show was graded in), and works across SDR, HDR10 and HLG modes (it won’t appear as an option when Dolby Vision is enabled). LG’s implementation allows for it to be switched on or off, but there’s no content available with the metadata tag to take advantage of it at the moment.

Dolby Vision IQ uses the TV’s light sensors to detect changes in a room’s ambient light; optimising brightness, colour and contrast of Dolby Vision HDR content. IQ can’t be switched on or off as it doesn’t feature in the menus. In fact, LG’s implementation relies on the AI Brightness mode, enabled by default with the Dolby Vision Cinema Home mode. Considering I didn’t notice this much, consider it a nice rather than essential feature.

OLED burn-in is increasingly less of a worry as LG has employed various solutions for dealing with it such as screensaver mode and pixel shifting. As long as the TV is used responsibly, image retention shouldn’t be an issue.

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For audio there’s Dolby Atmos compatibility. Also supported is Bluetooth Surround Ready which means two compatible speakers of the same model can be added as rear speakers. Continuing on from last year is WiSA (Wireless Speaker & Audio), which removes the need for cables/receivers by connecting to compatible wireless speakers. Bang & Olufsen, Harman Kardon and Klipsch have WiSA-ready speakers and subwoofers available.

LG OLED55CX interface — webOS is a fluid and full of accessibility options

Very few 4K TVs are without smarts, and the LG CX arrives with plenty. WebOS and ThinQ AI build upon 2019’s foundations, furnishing the TV with a few new adjustments and customisations to tailor the experience.

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webOS remains the fluid, tile-based interface that’s responsive and easy to navigate. AI Preview and Intelligent Edit continue over from last year, adding to webOS’ accessibility. Menus are also feel less byzantine than last year.

Navigation is via the Magic Remote. LG doesn’t supply any other remote, so if the point-and-click nature is too fiddly, the size of the on-screen pointer and overall responsiveness can be tweaked in the settings. The remote has quick-access buttons for Netflix, Amazon Video and Rakuten (via the Movies button). Alexa and Google Assistant are the choices for hands-free voice operation.

The ergonomically shaped Magic Remote can be customised in the settings menu

Set-up is fairly swift, and you’ll be guided through a process where the TV automatically detects any connected devices. You’ll also have the chance to switch on AI-enhancements in AI Picture Pro, Brightness and Sound. To get the picture quality enhancements, switch on Picture Pro.

There’s a wide selection of apps that includes Apple TV (which can now pass through Atmos), Disney+ and NOW TV are supported alongside various music and video apps. There’s also LG Channels, offering a curious selection of 50 channels including Classic Cars, Futbol Mundial and The Hollywood Reporter.

What you won’t get is Freeview Play and UK catch-up apps. LG added BBC iPlayer at the end of August, but there’s no word on whether other apps such as all 4 and My5 will make their way to webOS. For terrestrial TV, it’s standard Freeview.

The Home Dashboard is the hub for everything that’s connected to the TV

The Home Dashboard is the hub for all inputs, outputs and Internet of Things (IoT). From there you can access content on linked media servers, switch between inputs, preview those inputs via picture-in-picture and manage connected devices through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, AirPlay 2 and Apple HomeKit.

Annoyed by those pesky ads on the home tiles? They can be switched off in the settings. Want to keep up with your favourite sports teams? You can create an alert to stay abreast of what’s happening.

LG CX (OLED55CX) performance — Gorgeously rich contrast and bold colours

The LG CX boots up in Eco mode but switch to Standard and it delivers a very impressive image. There’s an innumerable of video modes to choose from, with Vivid at one end to the two ISF modes (Bright and Dark) at the other.

The α9 Gen3 AI Processor offers improved upscaling performance, especially with faces. HD images are full of bold colours and contrast; textures are detailed, surfaces are convincingly conveyed and tonally it’s on point. It’s not necessarily the sharpest image, but it’s a remarkably strong performance.

The α9 Gen3 processor is also deft when it comes to motion-handling. Watching Manchester City take on Burnley and there aren’t any distracting artifacts, with the OLED55CX able to keep track of fast-moving action without succumbing to ill-fated blur.

Even SD is displayed with a sense of heroism. Despite the drop in quality, pictures are still watchable. There are predictable issues with halos around objects and people, as well as a softness and lack of detail, but it’s better than it has any right to be.

HD SDR – 1080p                                                                     SD SDR – 480p

Complexions can be shiny, but setting Noise Reduction/MPEG Noise Reduction to Auto reduces this. It’s worth moving Smooth Gradation to low, setting Dynamic Contrast at low and putting TruMotion’s De-judder at 4 and De-Blur at 10 for sub-4K content, though it’s worth playing around for a look you favour. Don’t bother with OLED Motion Pro as it makes the image darker.

New for 2020 is Peak Brightness. Turn it off and the TV offers deeper blacks. Setting it to high lessens black levels, but pumps up the overall brightness.

Give the CX 4K content and it flies. Black levels are impressively deep, but still provide detail in the darker areas. Contrast is superb, making for suitably rich and dramatic presentation. It’s not the brightest OLED, though it feels brighter than the C9/E9, but there’s a naturalness and vibrancy to the CX’s colours and tones that’s exquisite.

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OLEDs ability to place bright and dark pixels together makes for dynamic looking images. The scene where the predator is hunting after Schwarzenegger’s Dutch illuminates the OLED screen with pin-point precision. Dark scenes with bright elements are particularly dazzling.

With Dolby Vision content there’s a rich, textured and almost creamy aspect to the picture. Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods on Netflix takes place in Vietnam, and the rich and verdant greens of the jungle stand out impressively, but interiors have lush, detailed quality to them too. Complexions are well conveyed, black levels are sufficiently deep and near-black levels are revealing with fine detail levels fantastic, doing justice to Newton Thomas Sigel’s cinematography.

TruMotion can be disabled, but the Cinema Clear setting with Dolby Vision can’t. Nevertheless, it’s not a huge bother with the soap opera effect less prominent and slicker motion. In fact watching Sam Mendes’ 1917 on a Sony UBP-X700, the Dolby Vision Cinema Clear setting seems to help mask the one-shot conceit where objects and characters pass by the camera to stitch scenes together, while also retaining a richly cinematic feel.

There is some picture noise in fast moving shots, something that crops up in action films such as the Dolby Vision versions of the Mission: Impossible films. In terms of clarity and smoothness it’s a solid compromise.

Gaming mode is fleet-footed, though there is some flicker when playing The Division 2. LG claims the OLED55CX offers 12.7ms of lag. Tests only recorded 13ms, but let’s not split hairs over 0.3ms.

LG OLED55CX sound quality — Decent but factor in a soundbar

The one rather ordinary aspect of the LG CX is its audio. Packing a 40W 2.2ch system, the CX offer ways to customise and tune the sound.

While it generally sounds fine, Standard mode sounds thin and lacks depth. AI Sound Pro projects voices and bass better , but there’s a slight harshness to it, something I encountered with the SN7CY soundbar. AI Sound Pro also sounds narrower but serves up a more detailed performance. Cinema is the most expansive, while the OLED Surround setting adds more bite and bass.

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AI Tuning adapts the LG CX’s audio for its surroundings (LG recommends that the TV is placed near a wall for best performance), and it does sound noticeably better once it’s gone through the process.

The CX also supports Atmos with compatible content, but it’s not as big or as powerful as the 2019 E9 or the 2020 GX. All this is a long-winded way of saying you should consider a soundbar.

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Should you buy the LG OLED55CX?

The question of whether to purchase the LG CX is complicated by the spectre of the C9. If you’re looking at the CX, it’s a fair assumption that you want an OLED over more conventional LCD or Samsung’s premium QLEDs.

Advances in AI-enhanced picture quality, motion control and added customisation options – such as Peak Brightness – are welcome additions. The overall performance isn’t a huge leap over previous generations making the C9, which is still available, the best value LG OLED.

That said, the CX is an excellent all-round package. Picture quality is outstanding, webOS is intuitive and full of content, and the level of customisation and various AI-enhancements make this a sure-fire winner. The lack of Freeview Play and UK catch-up apps will annoy many though.

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