Thursday, 11 April, 2019: The Darling Hotel, Sydney. I’m dragging my eyes away from Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse as it (largely) fills the screen of LG’s newest TV. Reluctantly. I must commit these words to computer screen. I’d rather just sit back, though, and bask in the LG OLED65C9 TV.
First up, a confession. I own an ancestor of this model, the LG OLED65C7, so I’ve very familiar with it operationally. That made it easy for me to use. Nonetheless, I will continue to argue that LG’s WebOS (now up to v4.5), combined with the Magic Remote remains the most intuitive system yet developed for controlling a smart TV. You just move the arrow on the screen by pointing the remote. Simple.
(Note: this review is appearing on 15 April because LG sought an embargo until 8am that day.)
OLED vs the others
But let’s back up a bit.
First, OLED is LG’s premium TV technology. OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. It has a significant advantage of LCD, the only other currently viable display technology: it can provide pure blacks. LCD TVs work by selectively blocking the output of a backlight (or backlights). Fancy designations like “LED TV” and “QLED” and whatnot are all referring to the backlight technology. They provide very useful advantages over other LCD backlights, but overall they remain LCD TVs.
OLED, however, generates reds, greens, blues and (in the case of LG) whites within each pixel. Furthermore, unlike the now largely defunct plasma technology, each pixel can ramp smoothly all the way down to zero output and back up again. It’s that which delivers such excellent black levels.
And really deep, inky, there-ain’t-no-light-there-at-all blacks provide a solid foundation for first class colour performance.
Because there are no backlights, the TV only needs be as thick as the panel, plus whatever additional mechanical support is required. Much of the LG OLED65C9 – perhaps the top sixty per cent, looks as though it is just a sheet of glass.
As the model number suggests, the TV I was using was the 65-inch version. It’s also available in 55 inches ($3,899) and 77 inches ($15,999). There are more expensive variants in the new 2019 LG OLED TV lineup. These employ essentially the same technology, but offer different frills.
The budget-conscious purchaser may want to consider last year’s OLED65C8. It uses an older version of WebOS and a slightly less powerful picture processor, but it remains a killer model. And I see that it has been reduced from the original $6,399 to $5,299. Perhaps as a run out it can be gotten for even fewer dollars.
LG OLED65C9 TV, how thin?
How thick would that be?
One of the problems with reviewing a product at a site organised by the vendor, rather than in my own office, is that I didn’t have all my tools to hand. So, I couldn’t measure the panel thickness. Nonetheless, I’d be surprised if it were any thicker than the 3.6mm of the OLED65C8 which I measured last year. The bottom part swells out because it contains the necessary electronics, TV receiver and processing technology. It’s around 50mm thick.
Around the edges of the active portion of the screen is the bezel. This is pretty much just an extension of the glass screen and is around a centimetre wide.
The panel of the LG 65OLEDC9 TV has, of course, the full UltraHD resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels. Blacks are the strength of OLED, rather than maximum brightness. LG doesn’t seem to publish the actual brightness level. But I have been told that previous models have a a peak brightness of around 1,000 nits. What does that mean for contrast ratio? Well, if this TV can go all the way down to 0 nits and the contrast ratio is the maximum divided by the minimum, well … Mathematical purists say that infinity isn’t a number, but just a placeholder for a concept called “undefined”. For our purposes, an infinite contrast ratio will do.
The LG OLED65C9 TV supports HDR, Hybrid Log Gamma and Dolby Vision colour and grey scale profiles. The panel itself is 10 bits, so it can discriminate between four times as many levels as an 8-bit panel. Sixty-five inches translates to 165.1 centimetres.