(Pocket-lint) - Every act has its Greatest Hit, the real crowd-pleaser they use as a second encore. With LG for the last seven or eight years, its Greatest Hit has been its range of entry-level/affordable OLED TVs.
And we already know that's going to be the case in 2020, too. After all, when we reviewed the 65-inch LG OLED65GX - the 'GX' is more for wall-mounting than this 'CX' model - the company told us pretty much straight: the only difference between the GX and the CX ranges is the audio array and the form-factor.
There's a price difference, too, of course. Because to make 2020's Greatest Hit even more of a phone-torch-in-the-air singalong, LG has managed to bring in the CX range for a little less than the higher-up-the-ranks 'C9' equivalent cost this time last year.
Obviously, the company has its fingers crossed that this will be enough. A relatively affordable OLED TV from one of the acknowledged class-leaders is not to be sniffed at. So how does it stack up?
LG OLED55CX6LA: Design
- Dimensions (55in): 706 x 1,228 x 47mm / Weight (55in): 18.9kg
- Connections: 4x HDMI, 3x USB, 2x tuner, CI card, digital optical, 3.5mm analogue
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Part of what makes LG's GX range of OLED TVs so agreeable from a decorator's point of view is the consistent sub-2cm depth of the frame. More usually, OLED TVs tend to be almost supernaturally slim, right until the moment they become bloated with electronics, inputs, speakers and what-have-you.
And sure enough, that's what's happened with the CX range. Mostly, this 55-inch version is extraordinarily slim - just a couple of millimetres thick. Well, that's the top 60 per cent or so - the bottom 40 per cent is getting on for 5cm deep, because a TV has to keep its hardware somewhere. But no matter how slim the rest of the LG OLED55CX is, if you want to hang it on the wall then it's going to sit 5cm proud.
You don't have to put in on a wall, of course. Unlike the GX, the CX is supplied with a wide, shallow stand that makes the screen a) very stable when standing on a surface and b) impossible to fit a soundbar beneath.
In every other respect, the design of the LG CX is exactly what you want from your new TV: a lot of screen and very little bezel. Everything is fitted together nicely, with not a sharp edge or pointy corner to be felt, nor creaky plastic to be heard.
LG OLED65CX6LA: Features
- High dynamic range: HLG, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Dolby Vision IQ
- 40W of audio power
- Filmmaker Mode
There's no HDR10+ dynamic metadata compatibility here for high dynamic range (HDR) content, because LG and That Other Korean TV Company still can't play nicely. But in every other respect, the OLED55CX is fully loaded - and although the list of features is pretty long, there isn't a superfluous item on there.
HDR is covered by broadcaster's favourite HLG, HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The CX is packing Dolby Vision IQ, too - which is basically Dolby Vision-standard HDR with some bespoke on-the-fly fettling, depending on the information obtained by the screen's integrated light sensor.
Getting information into the LG CX in the first place is straightforward enough. There are four HDMI inputs here, one of which is eARC enabled and all four of which can handle 4K content at 120Hz in 10bit HDR.
This is as significant to those of use who are twitching with excitement at the thought of their next-gen games console - hello PS5 and Xbox Series X - as the LG's ability with ALLM (auto low latency mode), VRR (variable refresh rate), FreeSync, and HGiG HDR tone-mapping is. If you're keeping gaming uppermost in your mind when selecting a new TV, this specification alone might have tipped the balance in the LG's favour. Add in a response time (in Game mode) of around 13ms and the deal may already be sealed.
But for the rest of us, there are also three USB inputs, an Ethernet socket, aerial posts for terrestrial and satellite TV tuners, a CI card slot and, on the wireless side, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. Outputs run to a digital optical socket and a 3.5mm line-level analogue output.
Once the information is on board, there are many numbers of picture presets with which to view it. And while it may not be the most impressive (LG's ISF Expert options are probably the most effective), Filmmaker Mode certainly has the highest picture preset profile. Heavily trailed at CES 2020 and with many a filmmaking heavyweight endorsing its efficacy, the mode is designed to defeat all the clever picture processing the LG's Alpha 9 (Gen 3) engine applies and instead deliver images the way the maker intended.
As far as sound goes, the LG is equipped with a couple of full-range drivers and something an optimistically described 'subwoofer'. This, according to LG, is a '2.2' arrangement, driven by a total of 40W of power.
LG OLED77CX6LA: Interface
- webOS interface
- 'Magic' Bluetooth remote
- No UK catch-up apps (yet)
- Voice control: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Everything that's admirable about the interface to LG's 2020 ranges of television is here in the CX, as is everything that's a bit weird.
The admirable list is a bit longer, thankfully, so let's start there. LG's webOS interface remains one of the cleanest and most straightforward experiences around, and here it's as logical and coherent as ever. The setup menus may be on the Labyrinthine side, but in every other respect the LG is a model of simplicity. And it's stacked with streaming service apps, both great and small - for every Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Disney+, you've access to a dozen you've likely never heard of.
webOS is navigated using either the point-and-click Magic Bluetooth-powered remote control - which makes entering email addresses and the like a much less agonising experience than with a regular remote control - or voice control. There's a mic button on the remote handset, which summons either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant - and the screen itself features integrated far-field mics into which you can issue instructions to any of LG's ThinQ AI components you may have on the network.
What you're unable to do, though, either with the remote control or your voice, is summon any UK TV catch-up programming. In a staggering feat of corporate negligence, LG and Freeview failed to reach an agreement in time for iPlayer, All4 and all the rest to be included on webOS for 2020. Not great for UK purchasers. Both parties are adamant this will be rectified for 2021, and in the meantime LG is negotiating with individual broadcasters to get its apps uploaded… but at the time of publishing this review it's no dice.
LG OLED55CX: Picture quality
Where to start with a 4K HDR OLED TV? With some 4K HDR content, but of course! Loading the Dolby Vision-driven Marriage Story on Netflix and it doesn't take long for the LG's particular talents to come to the fore.
Of course, there's that unmistakable OLED blackness - being able to turn an individual pixel all the way off results not only in the deepest, darkest black tones in TV-land, but also allows the sort of subtlety of shade, tone and gradation that's entirely beyond an LCD alternative.
The LG CX has plenty of this range, and its beautifully nuanced black tones sit easily alongside bright, detailed and clean white tones. Consequently contrasts are strong and convincing, and the CX is capable of real dynamism when it comes to putting dark, information-rich black tones on the same screen as crisp, punchy whites.
The HDR-assisted colour palette is similarly impressive. There's a kind of casual correctness to the way the LG describes colours, a no-big-deal naturalness that speaks of real expertise. Vivid when they need to be, subtle in the right circumstances, but always convincing and always loaded with detail. This level of nuance is by no means a given in TVs at any price, and it means the CX is enjoyable in the same way that looking out of the window to see the outside world is enjoyable.
In every other meaningful respect the LG is equally impressive. It retrieves a huge amount of detail, whether from skin-tones or from the textures of materials. It draws edges with absolute certainty, giving images real depth of field. And it grips onto the intricacies of even the most complicated patterns with absolute assurance - so even if one of the on-screen characters shows up in a tartan skirt, there's no restlessness of uncertainty in the way the LG describes the pattern.
About the only area where the CX doesn't perform with consummate ease is motion-tracking - and, even then, a moment or two spent with the (extensive) setup menus is enough to get the LG looking good. Ironically, Filmmaker Mode doesn't do on-screen movement any favours - so bin it off in favour of LG's Cinema Clear alternative and the CX's motion becomes as smooth as something very recently polished.
You have to step down in source quality quite a long way to fluster the LG CX. Like the LG 65NANO906 LCD TV we reviewed, the OLED55CX is capable of taking a 1080p Blu-ray or high-def TV broadcast and imposing itself on it - so detail levels, contrasts, colour fidelity and motion-handling all impress.
Unlike the LG LCD TV, though, this OLED doesn't give up the ghost with lower-spec content. It does confident work with the humdrum resolution of a DVD disc and, in fact, you have to go all the way down to some standard-definition off-air broadcasts before the CX holds its hands up. And even then, it fights against overt softness and motion blurring to an admirable extent.
A switch of source to a Sony PlayStation 4 reveals the LG to be a great games monitor in the here-and-now, as well as packing all that stuff the PlayStation 5 (and the Xbox Series X) will thrive on. Stick it in Game mode and there's very little drop-off in any of the critical stuff - colours remain vibrant, motion is gripped fanatically, and contrasts stay strong. And, of course, there's that sub-15ms latency - a number which will become even lower with a next-gen console.
LG OLED65CX: Sound quality
Lately there have been quite a number of TVs that sound rather thin. The LG CX is passable, but don't expect a giant soundstage here.
It's quite a dynamic performer by the standards of OLED TVs, with a gesture towards low-end presence and a nice balance to the frequency range it's capable of describing. It's reasonably expansive, too, and there's a sensible amount of emphasis given to the midrange.
None of which means it's a match for a half-decent soundbar though - and while the screen sits so low on its stand there's nowhere obvious to put a soundbar, you shouldn't let that put you off. Not if you want the audio quality to do proper justice to the LG's picture quality, anyhow.
Did you ever doubt LG's expertise when it comes to OLED TVs? The CX is a straight-up great television, with an absolute stack of positives when it comes to picture performance.
The brilliant webOS also goes quite a distance towards letting you know you've made a wise choice (unless you like to watch UK TV whenever you feel like it, admittedly, as there aren't catch-up apps until 2021).
As far as Greatest Hits go, the LG CX deserves to join LG's set-list.
A very worthwhile alternative. It doesn't have the OLED slimness that (most of) the LG screen has, admittedly, but it's got an equally impressive operating system and even faster gaming performance. As an LCD-based TV it doesn't have the LG's ability with black tones, and it has mild backlighting issues that simply don't occur with the CX, but anyone looking to spend getting on for two grand on a new TV owes it to themselves to see the Samsung in action.