Here at the Gamereactor office, we have had a thorough look at all the flagship models from the various manufacturers worth looking at, and we have seen how these series, such as Sony's Bravia, Samsung's QLED, and even Philips' various attempts have developed over the years, and it has been a fascinating battle between the different attempts to manufacture the display technology of the future.
After having praised Samsung's QLED models on several occasions and criticising Sony for its high prices, late last year we arrived at the conclusion that LG makes the best allround models on the market. Yes, webOS is not the most intuitive interface, and the remote is not going to win any awards for its design, but when it comes to the user experience that really matters, LG has managed to remove all quirks from their models and present polished display-technology unlike anything else on the market. We arrived at the conclusion after having used the C9 on all our primary console tests, from Bleeding Edge to The Last of Us: Part II, via Persona 5 Royal and Doom Eternal.
It has been quite a journey, to put it mildly, and when LG earlier this year at CES revealed its new X-models, it seemed that the manufacturer was quite confident about its line-up. Few but significant changes, the same design, the same central philosophy and technology. Is there, therefore, any reason at all to upgrade to the new CX if you already have a C9 (that we have nothing but praise for)? Maybe not, but it doesn't stop the CX from being the best television we have tested at the office and at the same time the television we without a doubt will recommend going forward. It's that good.
We say that the design is unchanged, so let's start there and dig a bit deeper. The panel once again has almost paper-thin aluminium only a couple of millimetres thick, and it covers about two-thirds of the television's back. At the bottom is the plastic case containing connections, AI-processors, and other technology. It is a solution that other manufactures also use, and one we can only applaud it, though all in all we prefer Samsung's solution with connections in a separate box you can place wherever you want. Anyway, the back of the television is both minimalist and beautiful. The foot is once again weighted plastic feet at the back and a simple aluminium one at the front, which gives a mild levitating effect. It is exactly the same foot as on the 9C, but that isn't a complaint - it is a beautiful television front and back.
The connections are placed in the bottom corner, and LG has decided to treat the customer with four HDMI 2.1 ports that all support 4K/120Hz with 10-bit colours in HDR and 4:4:4 Chroma-sampling. On other models, it is usually just some of the ports that use 2.1, but thankfully not in this case. Furthermore, there is an ARC/eARC-port which support Dolby Atmos. We have made use of a Sonos setup, but the point is that is has been a sublime experience from start to finish, and judging from the ports alone it is easy to see that CX will be a perfect companion when the next generation of consoles arrive this autumn. It even supports auto-low-latency modes (ALLM) and variable refresh-rates (VRR) trough HDMI, if your connected devices support the technology, and there is also Nvidia G-Sync. LG has also confirmed that it supports AMD's FreeSync. Speaking of consoles, you can enable the HDR Gaming Interest Group setting (called HGIG) that turns off LG's own HDR-processor and leaves the job to the unit sending signals through the HDMI-port, the unit being a PlayStation, Xbox or something else.
The remote is the same one as last year, and even though it's no looker, and we would like to see a more user-friendly version bundled in the future, LG's Magic Remote does all it needs to do and much more. Luckily, there is no shortcut buttons for streaming services you don't use anyway, just Netflix and Prime, which is more than enough. Once again it supports a gyroscope-based mouse, and we feel it is a faster way to navigate the user interface, so its continued presence is appreciated.
Speaking of the interface, it is rather bland; handy without being flashy you might say. LG has really come a long way in the last couple of years, and even though it's still not possible to remove all the functions that you never use anyway on the home menu or get PS4/Switch/Xbox icons on your HDMI-shortcuts for a better look, it's hard to fault any of the specific design philosophies or decisions behind the newest version of webOS. The interface is easy to manage, offers plenty of advanced features for enthusiasts, and is navigated by a responsive remote. LG has also upped its game when it comes to the selection of apps on their platform, and we didn't find any noticeable omissions.
The user interface is faster to navigate than ever before thanks to the new Alpha-9 series of processors that power the new generation of LG models. The chip not only offers horsepower for navigation, but also introduces AI-based features like improved skin tone recognition, source optimisation, and sound quality. Is all this noticeable? Not really, but that is probably because the C9's Alpha processor already delivered an impressive technical performance; it is in no way a television that keeps you waiting, and the same applies for the CX. Under the initial set-up you are greeted by a new AI Picture Pro setting that delivers improved sharpness both in picture and sound - provided you use the TV's decent internal speakers. Most people will probably turn these processors off, but they did remove some picture blur, especially in SDR HD, so this software does have its uses.
LG's X series also adds to new central modes that admittedly are aimed at a very specific segment of interested users (although they do make a lot of sense for them). First and foremost, we have the Filmmaker Mode, a setting first introduced a year ago by Sony in its Bravia flagship. The mode is developed in collaboration with the UHD Alliance and a team of creative experts and it aims to turn off a lot of the postediting algorithms which, some people argue, change the visual intention behind the content that you experience. It is a bit like HGIG in that the content dictates the calibration. The Technicolor Expert setting on former models served a similar purpose, so the feature is not completely novel. Dolby Vision IQ is a bit more involved as this setting analyses Dolby Vision HDR scenes frame for frame and combines it with a dynamic measurement of the lighting in your room so that the HDR calibration is tailored to your viewing conditions. Does it make a difference? Yes, it worked during our tests, but it isn't a feature anyone here at the office will have turned on for everyday use.
And then finally to the panel itself. What do you want to the know? That it is amazing? It absolutely is. We are talking excellent levels of contrast, deep ink black without loss of detail in the shadows, beautiful HDR with up to 750 NITS in our tests without too much of that 'bloom' or 'halo effect' you see on panels of markedly lesser quality, and colour profiles with a clearer punch on the whole spectrum. LG's self-emitting panel technology has come far over the years, and we have arrived at a place where you can put the whitest pixel next to the deepest black without any spillover, as is the tendency on other panels. Naturally the OLED-technology means that the general brightness is lower, but it really isn't anything you will notice, and the contrast between light and darkness is without a doubt the most impressive we have seen so far, and is markedly better than last year's C9.
With 96% DCI-P3 coverage and 71% Rec2020 coverage there is little reason to complain about the colour correctness, and in our test, we registered an input lag of just 12ms which is quite low for a traditional television. We put it through the motions with a wide array of content, from Netflix in 4K to Gears 5 on an Xbox One X, and we also connected a PC to test the VRR compatibility, and no matter what we threw at the CX it handled it expertly. Going forward this will be a colour, contrast and brightness benchmark for films, series, and games content. Naturally, most of these tests were conducted with LG's picture technologies enabled, such as Al Picture Pro and OLED Motion Pro, which inserts pseudo-frames of black between the feeds own frames to ensure that the eyes position is reset, making for a cleaner picture. You may want to disable many of these settings, as we did, and we can say with confidence that the CX continues to impress even without the extra bells and whistles.
And best of all? Because of increased production capacity and what seems like an attempt to market the flagship models to a wider array of consumer groups, the CX is introduced with a markedly lower introductory price than its predecessor. We have reviewed the 65 inches model, and as per last year's announcement, this one sells for $2799 instead of the C9's $3499. Of course, a C9 sells for a lot less these days, but what this hopefully means is that next year the CX will be even cheaper than the 9 series currently is.
It must be said that if you already own a 9-series TV from LG, you won't miss out on any important features. But still, all in all, this is the panel we will use as a point of reference in the future, and the television we will recommend if you are in the market for an excellent 'all-rounder' or a jack-of-all-trades. In fact, the new generation of consoles can't arrive soon enough now that we have experienced the TV that is made to accompany it.
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