LG 65-inch CX 4K OLED TV Review
Tony O’Brien is charmed by the heroic hues of this new mid-sized OLED TV…
65-inch CX OLED 4K TV
It was with no small amount of relief – given these tumultuous times – that I accepted LG’s offer to deliver its new £2,699 CX OLED in my home, and install it. Customarily reserved for select 75-inch and above televisions, I was treated to what they refer to as their white-glove service. How the other half live!
After helping me relocate my old C9, the installers had the 65-inch CX assembled and my Sony PS3 and 4K Blu-ray player connected in short order. While I did point out that the service also includes free-wall mounting, they politely reminded me that they’d be back to collect the unit in a week’s time, so I duly elected to skip that option…
Removing every trace of packaging, the installers left me with this shiny new LG television to make my judgement. Like many I suspect, the burning question on my mind was how much better could the CX really be, given that the C9 is already a massive success in its own right. Would it be a case of incremental improvements, or would the CX bring notable enhancements over the C9? As it turned out, it was a bit of both…
Pronounced as the ‘C10’, this new design is available in either 55-, 65- or 77-inch models. A self-emissive technology, OLED controls luminance on a per-pixel basis. This allows thus-equipped televisions to turn off individual pixels to produce true blacks. As with last year’s C9, the 2020 CX is a 4K television, 8K being reserved for its more expensive sibling. The onboard processing has had an overhaul, with the Alpha 9 Gen 3 processor making its debut in the 2020 lineup. Dolby Vision IQ also makes its first appearance in this year’s model range, too. Working in conjunction with the television’s inbuilt sensor, this swanky system adjusts the brightness, contrast and colour of Dolby Vision content based on room lighting and metadata.
By eschewing motion smoothing and adjusting colour, Filmmaker Mode seeks to stay true to the artist’s intent, displaying content in the same manner as the cinemas do. Gaming is also a major focus of this new model, with Game Mode claimed to reduce input lag to 13ms with 4K 60p HDR content. In addition, the CX is the first TV to be G-Sync Compatible with Variable Refresh Rate and Auto Low Latency Mode. It’s also HGIG (HDR Gaming Interest Group) compatible, allowing the television to set peak brightness and HDR based on content automatically.
Sports fans haven’t been forgotten either, with LG’s new OLED Motion PRO using BFI (Black Frame Insertion), designed to optimise fast-action content to reduce motion blur. Sports Alert also makes its debut, notifying you of key moments before during and after games with select content.
The now-familiar WebOS and magic remote also make a return, along with Google Assistant, Apple Airplay and Apple Home Kit. First launched in 2019, the CX also features Dolby Atmos – although I imagine many are going to match this TV with a home theatre system or soundbar.
Size difference aside, the CX is identical in appearance to my own 55-inch C9 OLED. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, from its angled brushed matt aluminium stand and back, nothing’s been overlooked. As with all OLED televisions, thin is the order of the day; the panel measures just 3mm thick at its thinnest point, with the remainder of the TV measuring some 40mm thick. Any way you look at it, this is quite a beautiful looking television.
Aesthetics take precedence over practicality however, as the screen starts a mere 25mm from the base of the stand. When wall-mounted this hardly matters, but when stand-mounted it’s going to present a hurdle for those who want to place a soundbar or centre speaker below the television. This issue is hardly insurmountable, but do give it some consideration to ensure a fuss-free install.
The CX offers a plethora of connection options, including four HDMI 2.1 inputs, three USB 2.0 inputs, single composite/component inputs, a 3.5mm headphone input, one 1RF/Antenna Input and a LAN input. The CX also supports Bluetooth as well as smartphone and wireless connectivity. This product was connected to a Sony UBP-X700 4K Blu-ray player; the TV’s internal speakers were used alongside a pair of Sony WH1000 MX3 noise-cancelling headphones for late-night viewing; these were connected via Bluetooth.
MEASUREMENTS & CALIBRATION
When it comes to evaluating the picture quality of a television or projector, the impact of incorrect picture settings cannot be underestimated. Often people conflate poor results delivered when it’s actually the settings at fault, rather than the product itself – so don’t assume that factory settings are necessarily correct. That’s why, before making any critical evaluations concerning picture quality, all the projectors and televisions we review at StereoNET are professionally calibrated.
My calibration tools consist of an X-Rite i1Pro2 spectroradiometer and Spectracal C6 colourimeter (profiled against the i1Pro2) in contact mode – against the screen. Measurements are taken with Calman Professional Calibration software, with 10% window patterns generated via a Murideo SIX-G Pattern Generator and the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark disc.
The CX boasts no less than twenty different picture modes, consisting of ten SDR Picture Modes (Vivid, Standard, FILMMAKER MODE, APS, Cinema, Cricket, Game, HDR Effect, ISF Bright Room, ISF Dark Room), five Dolby Vision Picture Modes (Vivid, Standard, Cinema Home, Cinema, Game) and as many HDR Picture Modes (Vivid, Standard, FILMMAKER MODE, Cinema Home, Cinema). Keen observers and/or people who should get out more, will note that Technicolor Expert Picture Mode is no longer present in the CX’s picture modes.
Another missing feature in this new CX is the shortcut to the picture controls; this is accessed by holding down the button with the gear icon. Although many will not notice, calibrators and tinkerers alike are now forced to navigate extra menus to access the picture controls. The user menu has had some slight cosmetic changes with overall functionality identical to the 2019 range. In addition to the standard picture controls, the CX offers 2, 10 and 22 point greyscale/luminance controls and a six-point colour management system (CMS).
As with previous models, the CX also offers full integration with Calman. This is a unique offering with select LG televisions that allows the CX to be reverted to a ‘raw’ factory state and a 17x17x17 point LUT calibration to be performed. In simple terms, this means the CX can be calibrated for nearly 5,000 points of colour. LUT calibration is my preferred method to calibrate LG televisions, but as I didn’t receive the CX update until almost a fortnight after the CX was returned, the calibration was completed with the CX’s controls.
ISF Dark Room was calibrated and used for critical SDR viewing with FilmMaker mode purposely uncalibrated and used for comparison. Likewise, both the Dolby Vision Cinema and HDR Cinema picture modes were calibrated and used for critical viewing of each format.
In ISF Dark Room, the CX produced a pleasing 116 nits, with ISF Dark Bright Room mode producing 151 nits. Using the 22 point greyscale and luminance controls, the CX was able to be calibrated to provide very accurate greyscale tracking the warmer bias removed. Likewise, pre-calibration gamma tracking of 2.16 was able to be improved to an average of 2.37.
With the six-point CMS, we were able to achieve superb colour accuracy with the CX. It’s important to note that while the report shows a decrease in post-calibration colour accuracy, this is because we targeted a 75% saturation point, in favour of the 100% saturation point used in reports.
FilmMaker mode proved to be somewhat colour-accurate, favouring both a lower gamma response and overall brightness than preferred, with peak white topping out at a rather dim 65 nits.
Depending on the picture mode, the 65” CX was able to achieve up to 658 nits with a 10% white window. P3 gamut coverage measured 99.19% of UHDAP3 1976 uv and 97.91% of UHDAP3 1931 xy. If these numbers leave you scratching your head, suffice to say the CX comes close to achieving all of the new wider 4K Ultra HD colour standard. Pre-calibration greyscale tracking in the CX’s HDR Cinema mode was excellent, with calibration improving greyscale tracking between 10 and 30%.
Click here to download the full calibration reports.
After those impressive test results, it didn’t come as a complete surprise to see that the new CX is a lovely thing to look at. For starters, it produced benchmark black levels, giving images an unrivalled sense of depth and dimensionality. Where the C9 exhibited a small amount of black crush in its uncalibrated state, the CX showed no sign.
Likewise, colour reproduction proved first-class, the CX producing wildly bold colours when asked for – yet it was still capable of producing lifelike natural hues in less extreme conditions. While the CX wasn’t measurably brighter than the C9, it was notably brighter than the C9 with Dolby Vision content. More surprising was the CX’s handle on motion, which coupled with its excellent black levels and colour reproduction produced a very watchable natural image.
With Netflix’s In The Tall Grass and The Highwaymen, this television delivered razor-sharp images, its reference black levels giving images an incredible sense of dimensionality and detail. The picture provided a wealth of detail that I easily found myself getting lost in.
Colour reproduction was fantastic, skin tones appearing both natural and realistic. Likewise, the green of the grass was nicely saturated, yet still looked believable. The CX couldn’t match the colour accuracy or subtleties of my C9, but this is due to the latter having had a LUT calibration rather than a fault of the CX. Having performed calibrations on both the 8 and 9 series, I have every confidence that this new television will at least match the C9 in terms of colour reproduction with LUT calibration.
With the Ultra HD disc of Bumblebee, the new LG was at its splendid best. Here the wildly fantastic colours of Cybertron were displayed in all of their glory. Images were notably brighter, with much of the credit I’m sure being due to this product’s Dolby Vision IQ processing.
The HDR10 disc of Sicario: Day of Soldado fared just as well, the CX allowing me to peek into the near-black detail of the opening scenes without a hint of banding, or any other near-black nasties. Images were rock-solid with the CX producing the best motion handling I’ve seen from LG to date.
With a mix of broadcast television and SDR Netflix content, the uncalibrated Film Maker mode produced a reasonable sense of colour accuracy. The quality of Australia’s broadcast television can leave a lot to be desired, yet the CX was surprisingly forgiving here. Although it couldn’t quite rival the calibrated performance of the C9, this is one of the better ways to experience this new TV in an uncalibrated state. It’s a pity though that many are going to avoid this mode, as it’s not bright enough for most rooms, especially when it can be easily fixed by increasing the OLED LIGHT setting.
Overall then, LG’s new CX television builds upon the already impressive C9 which we reviewed last year. Granted much of what I said of the former is also true of the latter, it’s the subtle and not-so-subtle improvements that make the CX the front-runner. Chief amongst these is the new product’s motion handling capabilities, which are good enough to give Sony – which I consider to be king of motion handling – a run for its money.
Once again, LG has produced a reference piece. It is capable of producing both the boldest and subtlest of colours, with excellent accuracy and black levels that have to be seen to be believed. Of course, if you want to take such performance to whole a new level, then seek out a competent calibrator to eke out the last word in performance from this beautiful TV. Either way though, the CX is a stunner, and well worth of both your hard-earned dollar, and the accolades I’m heaping upon it!
Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator by day, and an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products by night. Tony has calibrated and worked with some of the best home cinema designers throughout Australia.
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