Table of Contents
For our LG C2 Series OLED TV review, we tapped SPY’s most experienced TV product reviewer, Michael Bizzaco.
Let me be clear about something: I’m still not over the loss of plasmas. Yeah, I know, call me a hard-nosed TV traditionalist, but I’m still nostalgically buried in the days of the Panasonic VT Series. This is to the point where I find myself testing OLED after OLED (yeah, I know, my job is pretty awesome), almost wishing for a fault to find. But after reviewing the best OLED TVs and the top affordable OLEDs, it’s about time I face the music:
OLED TVs are here to stay, plasmas are dead, and if I’m going to cry a river, it may as well be an organically lit, self-emissive one.
The verdict is most definitely in: when it comes to OLED versus LED/QLED, the OLED models have officially won. Even Samsung has given in and started producing its own OLED.
So with my cautiously biased and discerning eyes and ears tasked with reviewing the 2022 LG C2-Series, I went into this testing period with some pretty nuclear expectations — especially considering the sheer amount of fanfare around LG’s revamped Evo panel, a screen engineered to lend more brightness to an OLED than ever before. Based on my testing, we included this TV in the recent SPY Smart Home Awards 2022, and we’re ready to declare it the best TV of 2022. In 2021, the LG C1 Series was our winner for the top TV of the year, and we’re not surprised the C2 is taking its place.
Keep reading for our full, in-depth LG C2 Series OLED TV review and find out if this award-winning OLED is worth it in 2022. Because while this is undoubtedly one of the best TVs ever made, that doesn’t mean everyone will be able to justify the starting price — $1,250 for the 42-inch model.
LG C2 Series OLED TV: At a Glance
- New EVO panel is brighter
- Incredibly crisp image quality
- Excellent for gaming
- Improved OS and smart TV interface
- Expensive compared to non-OLED models
- May require a soundbar
- Resolution: 4K
- Display Technology: OLED (self-emissive)
- Operating system: WebOS 22
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi
- Audio Support: Dolby Atmos
- Ports: 4 HDMI 2.1 w/ eARC (HDMI 2)
- Refresh rate: 120Hz
- HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
LG C2 Series Design: A Streamlined OLED With Plenty of Ports
Out of the box, the 42-inch C2 I tested was fairly simple to set up. After attaching the two required TV feet (more on these little buggers later on), I powered up the set and walked through the initial setup wizard.
Entering some basic info and agreeing to various terms and conditions (mostly based around accessing web content), the TV was ready to go in about five minutes or less.
From a design perspective, the 42-inch LG C2 is razor-sharp in a number of ways, and a little cheap-looking in one specific aesthetic category — a small detriment found only on the 42-inch model (more on that below).
At this stage in the game, I should be a bit more jaded to ultra-thin bezels, but when I saw the minimal profiling around the 42-inch C2 screen, I was reminded of just how bulky things used to be in the world of TVs. The silver framing around the C2’s screen is silver and barely noticeable, drawing your eyes to the screen and nothing but the screen. This is one of the thinnest TVs for sale in 2022, and LG is generally leading the pack when it comes to razor-thin displays.
On the flip side of the TV, a textured plastic casing runs along the back of the screen portion, with a dedicated bump-out section (non-textured plastic) that contains all your inputs, outputs, and power cable. Unfortunately, it’s this same kind of generic, chrome-colored industrial plastic that finds its way to the 42-inch C2’s set of sore thumbs – two nubby TV legs.
On the plus side, the feet have integrated cable management channels for lassoing all your HDMIs, but when viewed from the side, it all looks a little silly. Adding salt to the wound, the feet are only exclusive to the 42-inch, with all other sizes receiving a centralized pedestal. We highly recommend sizing up and investing in the larger models of this TV.
LG C2 Series Review: Incredible Picture quality
This is what we all came here for, am I right? Yes, LG OLED TVs have been receiving top laurels across the board, and have been doing so for years, but is the C2 truly up to snuff when it comes to picture quality? The short answer is a resounding yes. Now to unfurl that short answer into something a bit more detailed.
Throughout my experience with the C2, I opted out of using the default picture settings but only made a few adjustments.
For starters, I flipped out of the Standard picture setting in favor of one of the C2’s ISF Expert modes, delivering an image that erred slightly more toward a warm color spectrum, with a little less brightness overall. The end result was something a bit more filmic, which is how I usually like my TVs to look. Additionally, I went through some of the more advanced picture settings to ensure that any and all motion enhancement features were toggled off.
Being one of the major brands that is now building a Filmmaker Mode into its TVs, LG OLEDs are cinema-friendly from the start, a feat I was worried about with the reported enhancements to the brand’s Evo panel that prioritizes brightness. My fears were put to rest fairly quickly though.
Yes, the Evo screen adds a certain brilliance to the image, but it’s more like a spotlighting for the incredible colors, rather than an impression of a massive backlighting system. Now let’s talk about colors and contrast. Holy TV, what a show we have here.
Even at 42 inches, this is quite simply one of the most impressive displays I’ve ever laid eyes upon. And let me say that the onboard a9 Gen5 AI Processor does one hell of a job in adding layers of nuance. With larger screens, the results will be even more impressive.
The first two images in this section are from two Netflix films in HDR: Chasing Coral and Finding Ohana. HDR is a standout feature of all TVs these days, and the C2 uses all the picture tech at its disposal to make the decoding and displaying of HDR as eye-catching as possible.
And in terms of measurable specs, I clocked around 743 nits for specular highlights (fast bursts of ultra-bright lighting) in HDR, and about 212 nits for sustained HDR brightness, which isn’t unusual considering the C2 has no actual backlighting to speak of. During SDR testing (more on that in a second), I measured around 355 nits for specular details and 320 nits for sustained SDR imagery.
The color gamut is out of this world in HDR, no doubt about it. And that Evo brightness showed up for work, too, adding sharpness and subject spotlighting where applicable, without making things overly bright.
For another type of test content, I loaded up an episode that stood out to me from Better Call Saul Season 5. The reason I went for Saul was because I know that, fundamentally, its creators care a lot about shooting their TV show like its one long movie. The camera work in Saul is arguably some of the best cinematography on any modern series, and the show’s incredible color grading is right there to back up the lens.
And to put the a9 upscaling to the test, I made sure to look at Saul in standard HD as opposed to 4K, just to see how close we could get to UHD without a true 4K source. All things said, the C2 delivered far beyond my expectations.
The episode I queued up is called Bagman. Without giving any spoilers, most of the episode takes place in an unrelenting desert, a vast wasteland rendered gold, brown, and sandy red with flecks of varied green for the desert shrubs and flora, a remarkable earthly expanse that the Evo tech had a field day with.
Everything rocky and rough looked brilliant and bold, but never washed out or oversaturated. This same brilliance carried over to what was above, too – a near-oceanic horizon of merciless blue sky.
In this episode, there are two characters we follow, one dressed in a salmon button-down with a navy-blue suit jacket and pants. The other subject wears pale military greens – a “laying low” garb. The costuming truly calls attention to itself, and the kaleidoscopic appearance of the first talent was given its due diligence by the C2, accentuating the oddball clothing, while never negating the desert proper.
The 42-inch C2 was housed in my bedroom for the duration of its test period, a part of my apartment that receives a ton of sunset luminance in the evening, in addition to a fair amount of ambient lighting from an array of lamps.
At no point did I ever have any trouble with screen glare – maybe a touch of it here and there (during the harshest sunset hours) but nothing I could ever officially complain about.
No questions asked, I’ve never seen a small TV look so good, and even from a range of off-angle perspectives, image sharpness and color strength rarely fades. This is the bedroom TV to beat all bedroom TVs, and a screen of choice for smaller living rooms, too.
LG C2 Review: Invest in a Soundbar
In terms of onboard speakers, we’re working with 20-watt down-firing drivers, which output about 75 decibels at max volume.
Touting its Dolby Atmos-equipped AI Sound Pro processing, I was expecting some pretty big things from these surround-sound simulating speakers, but perhaps I was expecting too much.
No matter what kind of content I was watching, and no matter how much fine-tuning I put into the audio settings, even going as far as to adjust individual frequency response ranges, I could not get the TV to stop sounding like it was trapped inside a tin can.
Not completely in a tin can, mind you, but the treble-heavy, bouncy reverb sound was unmistakable even if subtle, and it never stopped irking me. That being said, whether you’re throwing this in a bedroom or a living room, opt for a soundbar — even a super-cheap one. Trust me, you’re going to want one.
An OLED Gaming Display Like No Other
While our review is reflective of the entire C2 lineup as a whole, here’s a category where we’d like to draw attention to the 42-inch model specifically. If you expect top-notch picture quality, regardless of screen dimensions and viewing space, the 42-inch C2 could very well be one of the best OLED TVs for the size. But you know what else a 42-inch screen is ideal for? Gaming.
And whether you plan on connecting a next-gen console like the Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X, or have big plans for wiring the C2 up to your monster of a gaming PC as a powerful OLED monitor, the C2 is built to tackle any and all gaming requirements you have to throw at it.
On the connections end of things, you’re working with four HDMI 2.1 inputs, all of which are capable of delivering 4K/120Hz. Behind the scenes, the C2 is powered by NVIDIA G-Sync, AMD’s FreeSync Premium, VRR, and LG’s own Game Optimizer, providing you with a dashboard of relevant gameplay specs and settings that can be customized based on the type of game you’re playing.
I’m remiss to say that my testing quarters is only equipped with a PS4, but I needed to see what the C2 was capable of, so I took Resident Evil: Village for a spin.
Renowned for foreboding atmospheres and in-your-face enemy encounters, the Resident Evil series isn’t exactly tame, which is why we thought it would make for a great test title.
Frankly, I don’t know how I ever played this game on anything but an OLED screen. Shadows and dark spaces are a big part of the Village experience, and the inky black levels had many environments looking extra sinister. There was also minimal frame drop during some of the game’s heftier moments. Of note was a location billed as the “Stronghold,” a moniker that probably has vetted Village players gaining goosebumps just from reading this.
During this section of the game, you’re besieged by swarm after swarm of vicious Lycans in a claustrophobic, decrepit temple of sorts. The C2 was defiant during this sequence, delivering crisp visuals that never lagged on the action, even as I wasted through baddies using some of my most heavy weaponry, all of which came with their own unique animations.
The Best (and Busiest) Iteration of WebOS To Date
Smart TV interfaces continue to evolve and change, with brands like Samsung, LG, and Sony always doing their best to make each new iteration of a TV’s web-connected OS faster, stronger, and more feature-rich than the previous version.
On the LG front, the 42-inch C2 (and all other sizes) uses LG’s WebOS 22, accessed by pressing the Home button on the TV remote. WebOS is a proprietary smart TV platform that connects viewers to popular apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, while providing ancillary content in the form of recommended movies and TV shows from top streaming apps and LG affiliates, a Home Dashboard for switching between TV inputs, screen mirroring, and for controlling LG’s compatible ThinQ products (the brand’s take on a first-party Internet of Things ecosystem).
There’s even a built-in Media Player app for accessing photos, videos, and music from a connected USB thumb drive, as well as support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice assistants.
Connected to my home’s Wi-Fi, I found WebOS 22 to be fast-loading and responsive across the board. I always find Netflix to be one of the slowest running apps on any smart hardware, but that wasn’t the case with my C2. Streaming 4K episodes of Peaky Blinders was an instantaneous process, with minimal load times and next to no buffering, save for the 10 or so seconds when a fresh episode started playing and the TV went to work optimizing the 4K stream.
Performance-wise, WebOS is right up there with Samsung’s Tizen and the Google TV platform you’ll find on sets from Sony, TCL, Hisense, and a handful of others. What I wish I could sing the praises of is a streamlined experience, but alas, I cannot.
It seems par for the course in 2022, but smart TV web platforms are slowly looking and feeling more and more like giant advertisements. In fact, I would argue that WebOS and Tizen are two of the worst platforms when it comes to a clean and easily-navigable interface. Loading up WebOS 22, you’ll see row after column of ads, suggested subscriptions, and plenty of other irrelevant content.
If you’re looking for a smart TV that pays close attention to your viewing habits, while presenting recommendations in a concise and cohesive format, Google TV is the way to go. And this isn’t to say that WebOS is unusable. Actually, in terms of the build and variety of features, it’s a mighty workhorse, but it’s definitely cluttered.
Our Verdict: The LG C2 Series OLED TV Is 100% Worth It
I never want this TV to leave my apartment. Even the small 42-inch LG C2 completely blew me away when it came to the most important elements of a TV, so much so that even some of its semi-glaring faults (I’m looking at you, nubby plastic feet) are completely ignorable.
At this time, it’s the best TV you’re going to find, and a powerful titan of a gaming monitor if you’re leaning in that direction. It’s perfect for gamers, cinephiles and anyone looking for an ultra-thin, ultra-sharp TV.
Well done, LG. Well done.