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First Impressions - LG OLED83C1 (1 Viewer)

Robert George

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If one saw an earlier thread I posted asking for comments on non-OLED TVs above 80", you will see that my thought process rapidly evolved from non-OLED to OLED. The reason boiled down to one simple thing. The TV I have been using was the Sony X950H, fully calibrated. For those unfamiliar, there are few LCD/LED TVs in this size category that are appreciably better performers. Indeed, I have been very happy with the Sony, but browsing smaller OLED, and even the newer Samsung, I began to look at black level and wondered if I could do better without a second mortgage.

Initially, I found three possibilities: Sony's replacement for the 950, the X95J, Samsung QN90J Neo QLED, and the new LG 86" QNED. The 83" OLEDs were not immediately considered.

To my brief in-store browsing, the Samsung appeared to produce the best overall black level and was the brightest. The level of bright is not necessary in my living room. Samsung's lack of Dolby Vision support disqualified this TV immediately. The new Sony is, at best, an incremental improvement over the already exceptional 950, and therefore not worth the new money. The LG QNED got a second look as the in-store demo looked very good, but I found this, like other LG LCD TVs uses an IPS panel which has lower native contrast than the VA panels in the Sonys and Samsungs. I was concerned that when installed in my low light viewing environment, the processing and mini-LED back lighting and local dimming would not be able to overcome the limitations of the panel. This left me with only two viable options, keep what I had or come off the checkbook for the LG 83" OLED, which I had already determined would be a substantial upgrade to the Sony 950. In fact, only one REAL option.

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A quick note on packaging for those that may consider shipping this TV from online if local is not available in your area. LG is obviously aware of the fragility of this screen as the packaging is the most robust I have seen, and I've unboxed a LOT of TVs (used to work in HT design/sales). The entire unit is completely enclosed in the dense foam packing that is common, but not just top and bottom. Top, bottom, and sides. The outer box is in two halves held with plastic clips. Very cool, very easy, but you will have a lot of material to dispose of.

So, how does it look out of the box.

First a comment on overall brightness. Every review I read of OLED TVs talked about OLED not as bright as LCD/LED. True, I guess, but my eyes are not light meters and that is my final judge. I will say light output was not a major issue for me as I am able to almost completely control ambient light in my living room, even for daytime viewing. Below is a photo of my daytime living room in full "movie mode" with the TV off. BTW, the small red dot is the power LED on the TV...

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For my room, the overall brightness of this TV is more than adequate, even with room lights on. I have spent a good portion of the first 24 hours after installation tweaking settings even though this TV has some of the most accurate color "out-of-the-box" as any I have seen. First order of business was taming some color over-saturation in all modes. Then came a number of hours over two sessions tweaking settings for SDR, 4K HDR, and Dolby Vision. I was able to come to a place yesterday that it was time to just sit back and enjoy. And that I did.

The absolute black level that OLED is capable of is now well known, but I cannot overstate what pixel-level contrast does for the overall image quality. Although this panel has the same number of pixels as as my previous LCD/LED, the perceived sharpness and detail is quite simply stunning in a screen of this size. I have had every direct view technology and even a couple of then very capable front projectors and OLED is a completely different animal. I have seen it written by others that watching OLED for the first time is like watching previously well known content for the first time. That's pretty close.

Obviously contrast and black level are unparalleled, but color reproduction is amazing. Even in the most saturated colors, subtle shadings that LCD simply cannot reproduce and plainly apparent. Even the best plasma screens from their heyday would fall short. This TV simply produces the best subjective image that I have ever seen. Period. Exclamation point.

I'm sure the following photos (iPhone) don't do this TV justice, but I know people like pictures ;)

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A final thought. There are only two OLED TVs of this size, LG and Sony. The Sony is rating a bit better in the few professional reviews, but current pricing is 3K above the LG and I can't imagine the image quality to be that much better, even for those that can afford an $8000 TV. For me, this LG was a budgetary stretch but one I have no regrets making. For the first time I can remember, I now turn on my TV without thinking about what might be better.

I unequivocally recommend the 83C1 to anyone that can make it happen.
 
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