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12 July 2021

How to buy the best LG TV

Numerous OLED ranges – bolstered by LCD 4K and Full HD sets – make up LG's yearly line-up. We explore the new technology in these TVs, so you know how the ranges differ
Martin Pratt
LG C1 OLED

LG is one of the leading TV brands and is best known for its OLED TVs that forgo backlights in favour of self-illuminating pixels.

It also makes Nanocell and LCD sets. Most are 4K, but LG makes some 8K sets, too. It debuts its high-end TVs at CES each year and releases most of its yearly line-up in the spring. We've broken down each range in LG's line-up and explained the tech that powers them. 

To find out our verdict on all the models we've tested, visit our LG TV reviews

LG TV technology explained

There's no shortage of intriguing technology in LG's TVs, including an improved image processor, new HDR formats and object-based sound rendering.

Alpha 9 processor

LG's high-end TVs for 2021 are powered by the fourth-generation of the Alpha 9 processor, while lower-end OLEDs and LCDs will likely retain the third-generation Alpha 9. The latest version builds on its predecessors with several added features, most notably the ability to recognise and enhance faces and bodies as well as creating a better sense depth from foreground and background images. 

TVs with this upgraded chip will analyse every frame of what you're watching and hone it to look as close to 4K or 8K as possible. What resolution the content is boosted to will depend on your TV. 8K sets rely on this sort of technology as there's no 8K content to watch, but if it works well then SD and HD footage will look better than ever on 4K TVs, too.

Dolby Atmos and DTS Audio

The sound-processing tech in LG's OLEDs should help to create a more immersive sound experience. It does this by creating object-based sound effects, which should make it seem as though the TV audio is all around you rather than coming directly from the TV. 

In theory, this means that the sound of a plane taking off on screen would seem to come from above you, or the sound of a tumultuous crowd in a stadium would surround you.

Dolby Vision IQ

HDR is designed to improve the contrast of whatever you're watching, but we sometimes think it makes things worse. Our most common complaint is how the deeper blacks and brighter whites can obscure detail. As HDR normally goes hand in hand with 4K, it's a crime to cover up the extra detail the high resolution of 4K affords.

Dolby Vision IQ offers a solution by using the light sensors in the TV to adjust contrast based on your room's ambient light. Our tests of LG's high-end 2021 TVs will reveal how well this works, but it's a good solution in theory.

Filmmaker mode

It's strange to think that when you watch a film on your TV, it may not look the way the people who made it intended. That's why the likes of Martin Scorsese, Ava DuVernay and Rian Johnson put their weight behind Filmmaker Mode, which disables TV-added effects that can compromise that original vision.

It should make for a more cinematic experience, as motion-smoothing effects are blocked. In our tests we tinker with picture settings to get the best picture from each TV, and motion smoothing is something we often turn off ourselves. For anyone who doesn't want to delve into the deep recesses of TV picture settings, the Filmmaker Mode should be a welcome addition to LG's high-end TVs.  

Gaming features

Refresh rate and input lag are vital to enjoying video games on modern TVs. Refresh rates refer to how often the image on the screen refreshes. If you watch a film, you usually get 24 frames per second, which sounds like a lot, but many video games rattle through 60 frames per second or even more.

If the refresh rate of a TV can't cope, then games begin to look jagged and are less pleasant to play. LG has worked with graphics card manufacturer Nvidia to improve the refresh rates on its TVs. 

They have worked together on input lag, too, which is how quickly the display responds to button presses on a game controller. A small delay can mean the difference between making a jump and falling short, and it's something gamers won't put up with. LG's TVs should provide a better experience for gamers with all this extra tech.

HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG HDR formats

LG is covering most of the HDR (high dynamic range) bases with its TVs. The OLED models have three formats built in, so there won't be many devices or HDR content that they won't be compatible with.

HDR10 is the standard format at the moment, although Samsung and Panasonic's support for HDR10+ may change that.

HLG is the type of HDR that broadcasters will use when they launch HDR channels. It's not so useful now, but given that most of us keep the same TV for years, it's good to know that it will work with new channels. 

Unlike HDR10, Dolby Vision costs the manufacturer a licence fee to use. Cost aside, the key difference between it and HDR10 is metadata – this is the data that makes up the quality of the picture. HDR10 gets one dump of information for every film and TV show compatible with HDR; this means the HDR version of what you're watching will be the same regardless of the TV it's being displayed on. 

Dolby Vision, on the other hand, can react to what's on screen by accounting for the brightness, colour and contrast of different TVs.

If you're unsure what this technology does, then head to our guide on what is HDR TV?.
TV

HFR (high frame rate)

HFR ups the number of frames a TV can display per second to 120. This should make high-speed action look silky smooth, with no hint of blur.

This is a feature that comes part and parcel with HDMI 2.1 connections (even your TV's connections get updates) which is something many LG TVs support. HDMI is a type of connection you'll find on your TV that enables you to link it up with other devices, such as games consoles.

Gaming is the natural fit for this technology. It's unlikely to be used for TV or movies, which are displayed at around 24 frames per second. Upping this to 120 would look very unnatural.

OLED evo

OLED evo is supposedly an improvement on regular OLED technology, and the it seems the big shift from standard OLED sets to OLED evo ones relates to brightness. It makes sense since this is one of the few ways OLED displays lag behind backlit LCD and QLED ones. 

We don't know how much brighter they will be yet, but our tests determine peak brightness of every TV, so we'll know how they compare to standard OLED models. OLEDs are famed for their peerless black levels and if the evo technology can push the lighter parts of the screen even further it should increase the range and make those darker points look even more impressive.

The OLED evo tech is the reserve of one range in 2021 and that's LG's G1 Gallery series.

QNED Mini LEDs

TVs get bigger and bigger, but manufacturers try and make some aspects smaller. The LEDs that make up the backlights in most TVs shine onto a colour producing layer to create a picture. Generally, the more bulbs make up the backlight the more control the TV has over contrast, brightness and what portions of the screen are lit.

LG's newly developed (for 2021) LEDs are it's smallest ever and it means close to 30,000 bulbs can be packed behind a display. This creates numerous, independently controlled dimming zones for impressive contrast control.

It's unlikely to match the self-lit pixel glory of OLEDs, but it could come close.

Nanocell

LG TVs with 'NANO' in the model name are Nanocell TVs. They are basically LCD TVs, so use a backlight, but have an extra layer of nanocells, which are designed to boost colour. Nanocell models range from mid to high-end.

ThinQ

TVs get smarter every year, and the ThinQ technology that debuted in 2018 is still favoured in LG's 2021 TVs. ThinQ-enabled TVs will be able to control other LG appliances, so your TV can alert you when your washing is done, or it might display the contents of your fridge. 

Voice search will still feature, and you'll be able to search for specific channels and apps, or look up films of a certain genre or starring a specific actor. If you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home, you can use those to control your TV rather than the remote. 

Looking for a great deal on a good TV from LG or other big-name brands? Check out our guide on the best TV deals.

LG's 2021 TV range overview

LG OLED evo G1 Gallery Series

LG OLED EVO G1

2021 is the first time we're seeing LG's OLED evo technology, but only one range is getting it: the Gallery Series G1. 

Models in this range are designed to look like works of art, with a range of paintings and pictures that can be displayed while the TV is not in use. G1 TVs even simulate the look of a picture frame, and the impressive wall mount means there's no gap between the TV and the wall.

That's all well and good, but it's the evo aspect we're more interested in: the brighter display could make a big difference to OLEDs. It should emphasise the already impressive contrast and address one of the few areas where backlit TVs have them beat.

The design of G1 makes it an expensive option, even without the evo aspect, and LG's C1 and B1 OLED ranges are likely to be more popular. But if evo makes a big difference to picture quality, it won't be long before we see it on cheaper ranges.

LG OLED C1

Historically, LG's C range of OLEDs have been its most popular. Since their debut five years ago, each successive C model OLED has been plastered on buses and TV ads, and featured in articles in magazines (including our own once or twice). The same is true of the C1.

TVs in the range feature the same Alpha 9 fourth-gen processor that's found in the G1 series above, but they don't have the OLED evo screen. This means they won't be as bright, but for colour and detail there shouldn't be much difference.

We're pleased to see the 48-inch version continuing, so anyone who wants a smaller OLED can get one. 

LG QNED MiniLED 99 8K

LG QNED miniLED 99

It's not just OLEDs that are getting improvements in 2021: backlit models are too. By shrinking the size of the LEDs that make up the backlight in its QNED range, LG has managed to pack in 30,000 of them. This is a significant increase and should lead to LCD TVs with better contrast control and less blooming, which is where bright parts of the screen spread into darker parts, like a child going over the lines when colouring in.

The fourth-gen Alpha 9 processor is powering this new display, so detail shouldn't be an issue in 4K content, but the MiniLED 99 is an 8K set, so the Alpha 9's real challenge is upscaling 4K footage to an 8K standard.

Because it's an 8K set and features a new for 2021 display technology, the MiniLED 99 is expensive and sizes start at 75 inches.

LG QNED MiniLED 90

8K doesn't get all the fun. The MiniLED 90 is the 4K equivalent to the 8K MiniLED 99 above. It's a fair bit cheaper as a result, but you need to look elsewhere if you're after a TV smaller than 75 inches.

The processor is different from the MiniLED 99, too. It uses the Alpha 7 rather than the Alpha 9 processor. In theory this should mean colour and detail aren't as good, but in our tests of TVs with previous iterations of the processors we haven't seen a gulf in quality – not big enough to warrant the extra expense of buying an Alpha 9-equipped TV, anyway.

LG QNED MiniLED 85

This is the most affordable QNED. It's available in a smaller size than other QNED ranges, although 65 inches is still pretty hefty. It also has a 60Hz screen rather than a 120Hz one. That means the image won't be as smooth when playing games that support such a high frame rate (the number of times per second the screen can refresh the image).

That underlying backlight technology is still the same though, and that's of more interest than the frame rate, since you should see the benefit on everything you watch, not just games and the limited amount of video content that supports 120Hz.

LG Nano90 Nano80 and Nano75

LG Nanocell Nano75 TV
  • Nano90 - any model with 'Nano' in the model name is a Nanocell TV and the Nano90s sit at the top. Nanocell TVs use backlights to create the image, but don't have the tiny LEDs from the QNED ranges. What the Nano90 models have that other Nanocell sets don't is a 120Hz screen. It also uses the Alpha 7 processor, which is the same one powering some of LG's OLED and MiniLED models.
  • Nano80 - the maximum framerate drops from 120 to 60Hz on the Nano80 range and rather than the Alpha 7 processor they get the more generic sound quad-core processor. This could lead to a drop in clarity, contrast and colour on these ranges and motion isn't likely to be displayed as smoothly
  • Nano75 - one thing the Nano75s have going for them is the sizes they are available in. It's the only Nanocell range with a 43-inch screen option, which is bound to make it popular. Specs wise it shares much with the Nano80, but you don't get local dimming, which means contrast will suffer.

LG's 2020 TV range overview

We've reviewed almost all of LG's 4K TVs and some of its 8K ones. Read on to see the differences between the ranges and links to the review to learn more and see our expert verdicts.

LG Signature OLED TV RX

LG Signature OLED TV RX

When LG puts 'Signature' in the name of one of its TVs or appliances, it means it's something special. These devices represent LG at its finest, with the latest technology, cutting-edge features and striking designs. They usually cost a fortune, too.

The OLED RX looks unusual at first, with its huge sound bar base that's wider than the screen itself. But when you realise that the screen rolls up into that base, it starts to make more sense. Not everyone wants a large screen dominating their living room, so having one that can disappear entirely is a tempting prospect. 

When it's fully unfurled, the RX should be a force to be reckoned with. It uses the latest third-generation Alpha 9 processor, which should optimise SD, HD and 4K content better than ever by analysing and sharpening everything on screen. It will provide a welcome boost to HDR, too. 

The OLED display measures 65 inches. It's 4K rather than 8K, possibly because LG hasn't been able to roll up an 8K display yet, but that's not a reason to be put off – 8K content is non-existent.

LG Signature ZX

LG Signature ZX

 

LG's other Signature OLED set for 2020 doesn't roll up like a scroll, but it is 8K. It's much bigger than the RX rollable OLED, too, at 88 inches. 

Resolution and rolling aside, the two Signatures are similar. The third-generation Alpha 9 processor is present on both, but its importance, and challenge, is even greater here. It's not enough to make sure everything looks close to 4K; it needs to look 8K, otherwise the ZX is a pricey waste of space, as there's no actual 8K content available. 

Filmmaker Mode is an interesting new addition. It's found on many of LG's high-end sets, and it's designed to strip away the post-processing effects that the TV adds to content, so that what you watch is true to the filmmakers' original vision.

LG Signature WX OLED

Lg signature wx 485823

The original Signature TV is still an impressive-looking set, even if its style hasn't changed much since it debuted three years ago. It's known as the Wallpaper TV, and with good reason. The paper-thin OLED display is so flexible it can peel on to the wall (though it's not quite as pliable as the rollable RX OLED).

The TV manages this feat by housing most of the components in a sound-bar-style base that's connected to the TV by one almost transparent wire. 

The look may not have changed since its launch, but the internals have. The WX now uses the third-generation Alpha 9 processor, so its picture quality should be sharper than ever, with particular attention being paid to HDR footage. It supports Filmmaker Mode, too.

Currently only a 65-inch model is listed, but in previous years we've seen 77-inch models too, so this could also be an option.

We haven't tested the the WX because it's prohibitively expensive due to its unconventional design, but if you'd like to know more about it, you can read our LG OLED65WX9LA non-tested review.

LG GX Gallery Design

LG GX Gallery Design

LG's answer to the Samsung Galaxy Frame is its Gallery Design range. As with the Frame range, Gallery Design models aren't supposed to look like TVs at all – they're designed to look like pictures.

Thicker bezels mimic the look of a picture frame, and when the TV is turned off it will display real works of art to blend in better. 

A clever feature of Samsung's Frame is how all the connections are housed in a separate box attached to the TV by one wire. LG hasn't followed suit, which means any HDMI and USB cables will be connected to the back of the TV. The illusion of the Gallery range being pictures rather than TVs will be trickier to pull off unless you pass cables through the wall.

As for the TV itself, it's an OLED display with the third-generation Alpha 9 processor, and available in 55, 65 and 77 inches.

Read our reviews of the GX OLEDs if you're interested in a discreet TV with cutting-edge technology

LG CX OLED

LG CX OLED

The CX range is where LG's OLEDs become affordable. It's the successor to the C9 range from 2019, and it doesn't look wildly different.

The big change is on the inside: the CX uses the cutting-edge third-generation Alpha 9 processor. It's the same one found in the entire Signature range, which will all cost significantly more than any model in the CX range.

Improved upscaling, adaptive sound and better HDR content are the hallmarks of the latest version of the processor. Filmmaker Mode filters down to these cheaper ranges, too, so you'll be able to watch films the way the cinematographers and directors intended by stripping away processing effects added by the TV.

The CX range is 4K and available in 55, 65 and 77-inch screen sizes.

Read our reviews to find out if these were among the best TVs of 2020.

LG BX OLED

LG BX OLED

The BX OLED range is LG's most affordable. It's the processor that keeps costs down: rather than using the Alpha 9, the BX range uses the Alpha 7. It in effect does the same thing as the Alpha 9, just not as well, although our tests have shown that the processor isn't the be-all and end-all for quality.

There's no Filmmaker Mode, but the BXs do benefit from Dolby Vision IQ. This boosts HDR performance by using light sensors in the TV to adjust the picture based on how bright your room is.

The BX OLEDs are available in 55 and 65 inches.

Being LG's cheapest range means the BXs are bound to be popular. Read our reviews if you're interested in seeing whether these budget OLEDs compete well with more expensive ones.

LG Nano 956NA 8K range

It's not just OLEDs that get the 8K treatment – some LCD TVs benefit, too. This Nano 9 Series has 33m pixels packed into its 55 or 65-inch display.

This is a huge figure, but there isn't any 8K content to take advantage of it, which is where the third-generation Alpha 9 processor comes in. Although it's found on 4K TVs too, it's got a tougher job on 8K models like this one. It needs to upscale SD, HD and 4K to look like 8K. If it can't, TVs like this are pointless at the moment.

TVs in this range share other features with LG's OLEDs, too. Filmmaker Mode is built in, as is Dolby Vision IQ, so its HDR footage should look impeccable. We too often find that the boost to black and white shades obscures detail when HDR is employed, but using the TV's light sensors to adjust the contrast on the fly should help to avoid this issue.

There are 65 and 75-inch versions of this TV. There's also a Gallery version, which works in the same way as the GX Gallery OLEDs to make the TVs look more like pictures on your wall when not in use.

Read our review if you're keen to see how well LG's 8K TVs compare with Samsung's.

LG Nano 906NA 4K range

If you're understandably not ready to shell out for an 8K TV yet, then you can buy a 9 Series Nanocell TV. OLEDs aside, these TVs are LG's range-topping models.

There are two main differences between LG's high-end Nanocell TVs and high-end OLEDs. First is the screen: Nanocell models use backlights, just like LCD TVs, while OLEDs don't. The other is the processor: the 9 Series gets the older Alpha 7 processor rather than the Alpha 9. This is still an impressive chip that has done an excellent job in TVs we've tested in the past.

 Read our reviews of the 9 Series Nanocell TVs if you want to see whether all that high-end technology pays off.

LG Nano 866NA 4K range

The Nano 866NA range gets the Alpha 7 processor rather than the Alpha 9. This isn't necessarily an issue, particularly when the Nano 8 doesn't have an 8K screen to power. The Alpha 7 should be more than capable of making 4K footage shine.

Filmmaker Mode and Dolby Vision IQ should make films look great on the display – the TV reacts to ambient light in the room to adjust contrast, and it shows footage as the cinematographers and directors intended, without the extra processing added by the TV.

Nano 8 TVs come in four sizes: 49, 55, 65 and 75 inches.

Check out our reviews if you're interested in a TV with high-end features that isn't as prohibitively expensive as some.

LG Nano 816NA 4K range

There's an even cheaper Nanocell option, but this one doesn't have the Alpha 7 processor. Instead it has to settle for the more generic sounding 'Quad-core processor'.

It loses out on several other features, too. There's no Filmmaker Mode or Dolby Vision IQ. You don't get Dolby Atmos either, so the sound could have a less expansive feel. It is possible of course, that these fancy sounding extra don't make too much difference to the overall quality.

Read our reviews of this range if you're interested in a low-cost Nanocell TV.

LG UN8100 4K range

LG still makes traditional LCD TVs without the colour-boosting Nanocell layer, and TVs in this range should be the best of them. 

You won't find the kind of extra software that OLEDs and Nanocells enjoy. There's no Dolby Vision HDR, so you're just getting the basic HDR10 and HLG formats. Filmmaker Mode and Dolby Vision IQ are absent, too.

What you do get is the accomplished webOS smart operating system and the ingenious Magic Remote. These all play into our ease of use score, but that will always be secondary to picture and sound quality.

Check our reviews if you want to see if the UN8100 misses all that picture-boosting software.

LG UN7400 4K range

If you're looking at an LG range with a 7 in the name, it's one of the more basic sets. The 7400 range isn't packed with cutting-edge tech, but it does get the wonderful Magic Remote, so it should be easy to use.

We've enjoyed watching even LG's cheaper TVs in the past so we hope the 7400s continue the trend.

Read our reviews of the 7400 range if you're interested in a cheap 4K TV from a brand capable of outstanding quality.

LG UN7100 4K range

It's LG's most basic 2020 range, but it still has more features than budget rivals from Samsung and Sony. You get a single-tuner PVR, both a Freeview and satellite tuner, and the same accomplished operating system as LG's most expensive TVs.

Read our reviews if you want to see how LG's cheapest 2020 range fared.