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Are cheaper LG TVs good enough or should you spend more on an OLED?

We examine our lab test data to discover how LG's cheaper, backlit TVs compare to its premium OLED models

Are cheaper LG TVs good enough or should you spend more on an OLED?

LG’s annual line-up of TVs is one of the largest. It’s released 78 4K TVs in 2021 so far, and there’s always the chance of a Black Friday range in November.

Just over a quarter of those LG TVs are OLEDs, with backlit LCD and NanoCell models making up the rest.

OLED TVs broadly get the best tech and features, and command the highest prices. We often rate them highly in our labs, too. But if you don’t fancy spending four figures on a new TV, can you get similar quality with a cheaper LG?


Top five TVs for 2021 – our top-rated TVs at different sizes


How OLED, NanoCell and LCD TVs differ

  • OLEDs don’t have backlights. That’s the main difference. The pixels in the display create their own light, which means OLEDs tend to have better control over contrast and blooming, which is where bright parts of the picture have a halo effect around them.
  • NanoCell TVs, which you can always spot because they have ‘NANO’ in their model name, have backlights shining on a layer of liquid crystals and nanocells. These two layers create the colours you see on screen and the nanocells are designed to boost colours.
  • LCD TVs have a backlight and liquid crystals, but don’t have the nanocells.
LG OLED55B16LA 4K OLED TV
The LG OLED55B16LA is an OLED TV and has no backlight

Are LG TVs good quality?

We’ve tested the majority of LG’s 2021 line-up (aside from the huge ones, bigger than 65 inches) so we can look at the averages to see what kind of quality you can expect from different screen types.

We measure every aspect of a TV in our independent lab tests and award a star rating out of five for each.

The ratings we give in our tables, below, are averages, which means individual models can score higher or lower in our lab tests. So make sure you check our expert television reviews before you buy your next TV, to make sure you’re getting one that’s worth your money.

LG TV picture quality

We expect OLEDs to do best here. The way they produce the picture is what makes them so expensive and separates them from backlit models.

TV Type Best picture quality rating Lowest  Average
OLED ***** **** ****
NanoCell **** **** ****
LCD **** *** **** (just)

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Viewing angle

Viewing angle is one of the more difficult things to predict. You’d expect a bigger, brighter screen to have better viewing angle, but that’s not always the case.

TV Type  Best viewing angle rating  Lowest  Average
OLED **** **** ****
NanoCell **** *** ***
LCD **** ** ***

 

LG 55NANO866PA 4K TV
NanoCell TVs like this 55NANO866PA have a colour-boosting nanocell layer

Sound quality

OLEDs could struggle here. The screens are extremely thin, which means there isn’t much space to squeeze in the speakers.

TV Type Best sound quality rating Lowest   Average
OLED ***** **** *****
NanoCell **** **** ****
LCD ***** *** ****

Ease of use

Lots of things can affect how easy your TV is to use. Menu design, speed, remote control and how easy the inputs are to reach are just a handful of the different tests we put each TV through in our lab.

TV Type Best ease of use rating Lowest  Average
OLED ***** **** *****
NanoCell **** **** ****
LCD ***** **** ****

Find out more about OLED, including our favourite models from the brands that make them, including Philips, Panasonic and Sony. See what is OLED TV and the best OLED TVs to buy


And what about the scores?

The tests we’ve picked out above are just a small portion of those that make up our total Which? test score. Our rigorous TV testing involves hundreds of independent checks, measurements and assessments in our test lab. All of these tests feed in to each model’s total test score, and this score lets you easily compare models.

Here, we’ve worked out the average score for each LG TV type:

  • 78% OLED average score
  • 69% NanoCell average score
  • 67% LCD average score

With an average score of 67%, some of the more basic TVs in LG’s line-up must be good. Our latest batch was packed with some of these cheaper models.

Recently reviewed cheaper LG TVs

LG 50UP75006LF – £479

This 50-incher is from LG’s cheapest 2021 range, which means you’re not getting anything flashy.

The remote is more basic than its more expensive siblings, it’s only got two HDMI ports and one USB port, there’s no built-in voice control and no advanced HDR formats. All those are more nice-to-haves that must-haves, though.

Read our 50-inch LG50UP75006LF review to see if LG still makes the best entry-level TVs.

LG 43UP81006LA – £449

The bigger the number, the more high-end the TV.  Which means the 43-inch 43UP81006LA is a few steps up from the 50UP75006LF, above.

That means you are getting LG’s lovely Magic Remote, with its comfy design and onscreen pointer, and built-in voice control.

Advanced HDR is still absent though, so there’s no Dolby Vision. There’s also the fact it’s a small TV, which in recent years is enough to mark many TVs out as ones to avoid.

In 2020 a LG 43-incher came closest to a Best Buy score: is it the same in 2021? Read our LG 43UP81006LA review to find out.

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