(Pocket-lint) - Pretty much every OLED TV is an LG OLED TV. As well as turning out some of the very best pound-for-pound OLED tellies of the last few years under its own name, LG also provides raw OLED screens to more-or-less every other TV manufacturer. So every new range of LG OLEDs can generally be treated as a benchmark for the state of the mainstream OLED art.
'GX' is a very specific range in LG's 2020 OLED TV line-up. By the company's own admission, there's no difference in the screen technology, or the picture processing, or the broader functionality, of the GX range and its (considerably more affordable) 'CX' alternative. Instead, LG intends to part you from a chunk above CX money with a more purposeful audio system and a physical design that makes the GX one of the most wall-hangable TVs ever built.
If that's excited your internal interior decorator as much as your internal big-screen enthusiast, then read on. The LG OLED GX range - which consists of this 65-inch model, plus a 55-inch and 77-inch alternatives - could be exactly the OLED TV you're looking for.
- Dimensions: 829 x 1446 x 20mm
- Weight: 29.8kg (65-inch model)
- Connections: 4x HDMI, 3x USB, 2x tuner, 1x CI card, 1x digital optical, 1x 3.5mm analogue
- Bluetooth 5.0 (inc. Bluetooth Surround Ready), Wi-Fi
The legendary slimness of OLED TVs has always been compromised by the need to fit a load of inputs and electronics to the screen. Which usually means that even the skinniest OLED TV tends to have a lump, or a bulge, that basically undermines all the physical advantages OLED theoretically has.
But the OLED GX is different. Even before you look at the screen itself, the knowledge that it comes supplied with a wall bracket but not with any feet or a pedestal should tip you off as to how LG has designed it. And while it's not as vanishingly slim at any point as plenty of rival OLED designs, neither does it feature the muffin-top of electronics, sockets and what-have-you. Instead, the OLED GX is a fraction under 20mm deep - and that's a consistent, uncompromised measurement. Which means it is absolutely perfect for wall-hanging, because to all intents and purposes it's flush with the wall.
As far as design goes that's pretty much all there is to it. The OLED GX is super-slim in profile, the bezel surrounding the screen is equally brief. LG has almost achieved the Holy Grail of TV design: a screen that barely exists in the third dimension.
Despite that vanishingly low profile, though, LG has found space for four HDMI HDCP2.2 inputs, one of which is eARC-equipped, and all of which feature 4K compatibility at 120Hz and HDMI 2.1 specification (apart from the 8K aspect, obviously).
This means the next-gen games consoles - the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 will be here by 2020's end - should benefit no end from being connected to this TV, thanks to Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), FreeSync and HGiG HDR tone-mapping all being supported.
Three USB slots, an Ethernet input, twin aerial posts for satellite and terrestrial TV, and a CI card slot make up the rest of the physical inputs. There's also a 3.5mm line-level analogue output and a digital optical output too.
And if all of those physical inputs and outputs seem a bit, well, physical, there is (of course) dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity available as well. Like the 65NANO906 LED TV we reviewed, the OLED GX is 'Bluetooth Surround Ready' - just wirelessly strap on a pair of appropriate Bluetooth speakers and quick, easy surround-sound can be yours.
- HLG, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Dolby Vision IQ
- Filmmaker Mode
Let's get the most obvious stuff out of the way first. This is a 4K TV, with a native resolution of 2840 x 2160. It's equipped to deal with Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), HDR10 and Dolby Vision high dynamic range standards, and is also packing Dolby Vision IQ (which uses the screen's integrated light sensor to optimise a Dolby Vision picture on the fly).
Running the show is the latest (third-generation) of LG's Alpha 9 processor. It governs an absolute plethora of picture processing options and adjustments, as well as putting a lot of emphasis on picture quality enhancements via LG's 'AI Picture Pro' machine learning algorithm.
The headline-grabber in terms of picture quality, though, is the appearance of Filmmaker Mode. In theory, Filmmaker Mode renders pictures as close to the original intention of the filmmaker by defeating all of the TV's picture processing. In practice, it applies very, very similar picture settings to the OLED GX's 'Cinema' picture presets - and that's regardless of the type of content you're watching. There's a possibility this preset might become a little more adaptable when some content begins carrying the 'Filmmaker Mode' flag - but we shall have to wait and see.
Sound is provided by a downward-firing system of drivers, arranged in what LG describes as a 4.2 layout. A big, expensive TV really calls for a big, expensive audio system to do some justice to those images, of course, but LG is to be commended for taking the GX's audio requirements seriously while managing to make the whole sound system basically invisible.
- webOS interface and voice control
- 'Magic' Bluetooth remote handset
- No UK TV catch-up apps (yet)
LG's webOS user interface/smart TV portal was refined into something approaching ideal a while back, and thankfully LG has chosen to leave well enough alone. It's bold but tidy, it's clean but comprehensive, and it's colourful but not shouty. If accessing the more esoteric picture adjustment menus wasn't such a chore it would be nigh-on perfect.
There are a huge number of streaming services integrated into webOS as standard. In a folder marked 'LG channels' you'll find some of the more rarified and less well-publicised services, but all the mainstream stuff is front-and-centre. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, the suddenly compulsory Disney+, Rakuten, Now TV and all the rest are just a click away.
Rather gallingly, though, there are currently no UK TV catch-up services on board the OLED GX. LG and Freeview somehow contrived to miss the deadline to get Freeview Play aboard any of LG's 2020 TVs - and though both parties promise this won't be the case come 2021, and though LG is working its metaphorical socks off to get individual broadcasters' apps on to its 2020 TVs, as it stands there's no BBC iPlayer, no All4, etc, to be seen here. Which would be an eyebrow-raiser on a TV costing a few hundred, let alone a few thousand.
webOS is also good for setting up and running routines for any Internet of Things (IoT) devices on a shared network, and the screen itself has a far-field mic for use with LG's ThinQ AI range - a quick "hi LG" is all that's required.
The 'Magic' remote control (a Bluetooth-powered point-and-click job) also has a mic button, for use with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. There's nothing luxurious about the way the remote control feels, and some of its buttons are almost wilfully small, but pointing and clicking is certainly a lot less laborious than navigating an on-screen keyboard using direction buttons.
The Irishman on Netflix has everything required to give the OLED GX a thorough workout. Dolby Vision picture quality, Dolby Atmos sound, some fairly heavy-handed CGI, and some of the most intricate testing patterns and textures the wardrobe department could muster are all in evidence. And in every respect, the LG is never less than competent and in some respects deeply impressive.
The colour palette the LG draws from is wide-ranging, naturalistic and yet quite opulent. Black tones, an established OLED strength, are deep, varied and carry plenty of detail. The subtleties of texture are described in full - the way the GX describes some of the textures of shirt material in this movie is enough to make your skin itch.
At the opposite end of the colour spectrum, white tones are just as nuanced and detailed as the blacks - and the two happily coexist on the same screen without any alarms.
Movement is controlled and described with real skill - the Dolby Vision flag defaults the LG's TruMotion processing to 'Cinema Clear', which works a treat - and edges remain composed and smoothly drawn throughout. Picture noise is all but eliminated.
Overall, the images are sharp but not edgy, colourful but not lurid. Watchable is to understate the OLED GX's abilities somewhat. It's simply masterful.
It's a similar story with a 4K UHD HDR10 Blu-ray disc of Dunkirk. Other OLED TVs will summon more out-and-out punch to their colour palette, and other OLED TVs are capable of greater dynamism where contrasts are concerned - but where detail retrieval, edge definition, motion-tracking and sheer colour fidelity are concerned, the LG is right up there.
And it proves to be a really adept upscaler, too. Even a 576i DVD of Zoolander looks pretty poised and coherent - and when you consider the LG is taking less than 415,000 pixels worth of information and filling a screen of well over eight million pixels, that's no mean feat. The same impressive colour palette is in evidence, the same deep blacks... Yes, detail levels fall away and edges can get a bit restless, but in broad terms the OLED GX does fine work. It's a smooth and well-defined watch.
While the LG promises the moon and stars where next-gen games consoles are concerned, it's more than capable of extracting the best from a PlayStation 4 right now. Input lag is so low as to be, effectively, non-existent - and with Game mode selected the images are solid, with no trace of ghosting, smearing or doubling of edges. Again, it's possible to achieve punchier colours - but the sort of calm solidity the OLED GX is capable of isn't all that easy to come by.
- 60 watts of audio power
In audio terms, the LG is a classic game of two halves. Combine the careful arrangement of drivers, the ample power they're driven by, and the painstaking Dolby Atmos soundtrack to The Irishman, and the GX sounds reasonably spacious and impressively well defined. There's genuine width and depth to the modest soundstage it generates, and it does decent work in keeping even finer details audible.
Like the overwhelming majority of flatscreen TVs, though, there's not really any low-frequency activity to speak of here, and precious little in the way of dynamism either. In addition, the LG's overall tonality is on the hard and rather unforgiving side - so, predictably, we'd suggest a half-decent soundbar is essential to accompany these very decent images.
That LG knows what it's doing where OLED technology is concerned goes without saying. As a wall-mount proposition, the OLED GX is masterful.
The only real problem for the GX series is that it's attempting to command a premium price despite its picture quality being no better than more affordable (but less slender, and less spacious-sounding) LG alternatives, i.e. the CX models.
But if you're determined to hang your new TV on the wall, you won't buy one more suitable than this - and once it's up there, its picture-making abilities will prove satisfying for the long haul.
Not as slim as the LG (at 35mm it's almost twice as deep) and not able to generate quite the depth of black of the LG either. But on a pound-for-pound basis the Samsung is more than capable of competing.