If for no other reason than its own professional pride, it’s important that LG OLED TVs are among the best around. After all, LG builds the OLED panels with which every other brand constructs its own OLED televisions – so as the keepers of the raw technology, it really wouldn’t do for LG to be off the pace.
Happily, LG OLED TVs have always been there-or-thereabouts when it comes to identifying the class leaders. But there’s no denying that the company hasn’t exactly been pushing the boundaries with its last couple of model ranges. Oh, they’ve been good performers and decent value, sure – but they’ve been no great advance on what’s gone before.
For 2021, though, LG has decided to move the game on – its ‘Gallery’ series of OLED 4K TVs (which is available in 55in and 77in versions in addition to the 65in we’re testing here) uses the company’s new ‘evolution’ panel. In broad terms, the ‘evo’ OLED panel is a minor reimaging of the technology – it has an additional green layer in its composition (for greater image vibrancy), it has narrower (and thus more accurate) red and blue wavelengths, it incorporates a new ‘luminance’ layer that ought to make images brighter even as it makes the screen more power-efficient. In short, the ‘evo’ panel is, in conjunction with LG’s latest and most potent picture processor, designed to serve up the brightest, sharpest, most dynamic pictures an OLED screen has ever been capable of.
Happily, this all boils down to one pretty straightforward question. “Does it?”
We’ve often bemoaned the false promise of OLED TVs where design is concerned. They’re almost spookily slim, aren’t they? Right until the moment you encounter the area where all the electronic bits ’n’ bobs are stored, when they become just as deep as any other TV – and the whole effect is ruined somewhat.
Well, that’s not how LG’s ‘Gallery’ series rolls. Rather than try to make at least some of the chassis no deeper than a credit card, LG has managed to create a chassis that is an even, and consistent, 2cm deep. And when you’re looking at a screen that’s 145cm wide and 83cm tall, a depth of 2cm is no depth at all. So, in case there was any confusion, a ‘Gallery’ screen is meant for wall-hanging – that’s why it is supplied with a wall-bracket (which doesn’t add to the depth) but not feet or a stand. In fact, if you want a pair of feet to stand your OLED65G1 on, LG will unblinkingly charge you for them. You almost have to admire the nerve.
Once it’s up on the wall, you’re better able to admire the minimal nature of the bezel surrounding the screen. There aren’t too many things people will pay more for to get less of, but the bezel around a TV screen is one of them. The bezel here is so brief there’s not even room for any ‘LG’ branding.
Having a fancy new panel design is one thing, of course – having the processing power to maximise its potential is quite another. LG has fitted its Alpha 9 Generation 4 processor here, and it’s absolutely bursting with clever algorithms to make the most of the ‘evo’ panel.
High on this list is AI. LG has gone big on AI for the OLED65G1: AI-assisted upscaling, AI-assisted sound enhancement, AI-assisted picture enhancement… and of these, it’s the last that looks both the most bewilderingly complicated and the most intriguing. In simple terms, ‘AI Picture Pro’ is meant to analyse incoming images and identify specific parts of the image that might require assistance where brightness, or contrast, or colour, or sharpness are concerned. So the LG is, in theory at least, able to finesse local areas of its screen on the fly. It sounds complicated, doesn’t it? But be assured it’s much more complicated than it sounds.
Elsewhere, it’s range-topping TV business as usual. The OLED65G1 has an absolute plethora of picture presets (including the inexplicable ‘Filmmaker Mode’, which seems to want to reproduce the effect of cataracts in the viewer), and almost as many audio EQ options. It’s got more inputs than any reasonable user will ever need.
Its four HDMI inputs are worthy of mention, mind you. All four are HDMI 2.1-specified – which means all of the clever features of your next-gen Playstation or Xbox are catered for. Let’s tick them off: 4K@120Hz, 40gbps, Auto Low Latency Mode, Variable Refresh Rate, HGiG… and all four are eARC-enabled just for good measure. Latency is a rapid 12ms or lower. One of the real plus-points of LG’s 2020 range of TVs was how completely they catered for gamers, and for 2021 the company shows no signs of wanting to take its eye off this particular ball.
In terms of sound, the OLED65G1 has a concealed 60-watt audio system. We never tire of suggesting that TVs never sound as good as they look, and that anyone who spends several thousand pounds on a new telly ought really to be budgeting for an audio system to go along with it – even if it’s ‘just’ a soundbar. And given that LG has managed to hide five speaker drivers in a chassis just 2cm deep, it seems unlikely this advice is about to change.
LG has made a few changes to its webOS operating system, already one of our favourites alongside Samsung’s Tizen – and they’re pretty much all for the good. The OLED65G1 is running webOS 6.0 – it’s now a full-screen affair, with a much bigger emphasis on recommendations than previously. In addition, it’s packed with apps (like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and so on) which are compatible with both Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos soundtracks. The LG doesn’t feature HDR10+ dynamic metadata HDR – but, while a three grand TV really ought to tick every HDR box, if you’re going to have one missing then let it be HDR10+.
In addition, LG has avoided the ocean-going, fur-lined embarrassment it suffered last year when it omitted Freeview Play (and thus all UK TV catch-up services) from its user interface. Freeview Play is back, and so is BBC iPlayer, All4 and all the rest. Which is just as it should be.
The admirable Magic Remote is slimmed down and pared back for this year, too. It still combines point-and-click with scroll-wheel functionality, which makes it a sight more intuitive and usable than any other brand’s alternative. And as well as a few ‘direct access’ buttons, it also has a mic to enable a bit of voice-control. Or you can use LG’s ‘smart remote’ control app – although for once this is an app that’s less intuitive, less logical and less fun to use than the remote control handset alternative.
Set-up menus are extensive but not exhaustive. So it’s just as easy for the menu-shy to get a workable picture as it is for inveterate tweakers to fiddle around the edges of performance for hours on end.
Give the OLED65G1 some of what it was built to deal with – which is native 4K content with a Dolby Vision HDR element – and it’s capable of picture quality that’s actually quite humbling in its fidelity. ‘Watchable’ is too weak a word for what this LG is if you pander to it in terms of content.
Once through a 4K Dolby Vision Blu-ray disc remaster of Stanley Kubrick’s deathless 2001: A Space Odyssey makes it absolutely plain. In every respect, the LG makes a great impression: black tones are deep, detailed and nuanced, with no crushing and no picture noise, and the when the endless inkiness of space is punctuated by one or two stars, or a bright white spacecraft, the breadth and control of contrasts is outstanding. White tones are equally information-rich – by prevailing OLED standards the 65G1 is impressively bright, the ‘evo’ panel making good on its on-paper promise here. The entire colour palette, in fact, manages to be wide-ranging, convincingly natural and yet excitingly vibrant all at once.
Edge definition is smooth and confident, and there’s real three-dimensionality to the way the LG delivers depth of field. It’s capable of seemingly endless nuance of colour, tone and texture, too, and it does deeply impressive work with interior lighting. If what you want from your TV is cinematic realism, you won’t go far wrong here.
Switch down to some 1080p content from Netflix and the story is much the same, if not quite so bravura. Detail levels remain high, edges remain stable, colours pop with assurance and the OLED65G1 keeps a proper grip of patterns even if they’re complex. It upscales the lower-spec content to fit its native panel resolution with efficiency that borders on the fanatical.
Naturally it can’t make a 4K silk purse out of a dated 4:3 sow’s ear’s-worth of content, though. Some elderly daytime TV stuff succumbs across the board – it’s soft, smeary, short on detail, and black tones are blockily crushed at the first opportunity. But then you didn’t buy this TV to watch ITV4 reruns of The Professionals. Did you?
About the only area where the LG isn’t almost instinctively talented is with motion tracking. Within the set-up menus there is certain to be a preset that suits the content you’re watching, a preset that renders movement smooth and life-like. But it’s unlikely in the extreme to be the preset you want when you change sources or inputs – so you’ll have to hunt through the menus to find the most appropriate setting. And then do it again when you change sources again.
It won’t come as any great shock to anyone with ears that the sound the LG makes doesn’t really do justice to the images it produces. It’s reasonably distinct, sure, not without detail and insight, and given that the drivers all fire downwards it actually manages to be quite expansive. But it’s short of dynamism, and in the final analysis is actually quite dull and uninvolving. If you’re ready to drop £3K on a big TV and haven’t budget for one of our preferred soundbars, well, we despair of you.
That’s about it for meaningful complaints, though. LG has delivered an outstanding TV in the OLED65G1, one that advances the OLED art and manages to shade Samsung’s superb QE65QN95A where overall performance (and straightforward watchability) is concerned – which is not an outcoming we were banking on before we plugged the LG in. If it could alight on a universal setting for motion, this TV would be approaching ideal.
Screen size: 65inResolution: 3840 x 2160HDR: HLG, HDR10, Dolby VisionInputs: HDMI x 4; USB x 3; ethernet; RF x 2; Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 5.0; CI slotAudio power (w): 60Dimensions: 830 x 1446 x 20 (hwd, mm)Weight: 29kg
You can buy the LGOLED65G1 TV for £2,999 via Currys and John Lewis [low stock] now.
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