LG C7 OLED 4K HDR TV Review (OLED55C7P, OLED65C7P)
- Stunning OLED-perfect black levels
- Infinite Contrast
- Superb HDR color performance
- Excellent motion handling
- Very light, elegant physical design
- Brightest OLED TV yet
- Multi-format HDR support
- Peak brightness diminishes under some conditions
- No 3D support
- slight image retention
LG’s 2017 C7 OLED HDR TV is pretty much excellent across the board and this is what we essentially expected for this model and its cousins for this year. Since their first release in 2014 the OLED TVs of LG have shown themselves to be mostly wonderful 4K performers and the further refinements now present in this example of the company’s latest sets take things to new highs, especially in crucial areas like color delivery, motion handling and display brightness most importantly of all.
This is where the C7 2017 HDR OLED model really shines, literally in this case. It combines the very best we’ve seen of LG’s previous OLED 4K creations with a new level of peak display brightness that finally makes OLED TV technology compare very favorably with some of the best in LCD TV bright panels. In the case of the C7, continuing limitations to peak brightness for both SDR and HDR content are more than offset by the fact that this TV’s OLED display can create essentially perfect black levels for a much better perceived level of display luminosity. It is expensive but the C7 delivers some of the best we’ve yet seen from OLED 4K television technology in almost all categories.
It’s hard to even know where to start, due to the sheer number of positive specs ratings and features in this particular OLED TV. So let’s go with its design first and from there move onto the key areas of display performance, motion handling, connectivity and smart TV qualities.
First and most immediately obvious, there is the physical design of the LG C7 OLED. This model looks somewhat similar to its 2016 C6 cousin but with some important changes. The most obvious and best of these changes is the C7’s flat panel design. LG has finally gotten rid of pointless curved display designs in 2017 for all of its OLED TVs and thus, unlike its 2016 C6 predecessor, the C7 is a fully flat television model of delightful elegance. The usual extremely thin OLED display panel with virtually no bezeling along the upper and side edges shows off particularly nicely in this TV as a result and while being viewed in a heavily darkened room, the C7 manages to almost resemble a floating window into another world.
Another change from 2016 in this otherwise superbly light and elegant 4K OLED TV is the brushed metallic stand it comes with. The new stand angles straight up to the underside of the C7 without a glass support like that of the 2016 models and it feels very sturdy while also having a footprint that’s smaller than was the case last year, for easier placement on smaller surfaces or tables. The C7 also of course comes with VESA 300X200 mounting and includes a cable management design for neater management of connectivity cables in the back end. The LG C7 is also a very light 4K TV. Again, OLED technology is responsible for this quality since it eliminates the need for complicated and heavy back-light arrays and other associated hardware. Thus, even the larger models of this television are incredibly thin and light to handle.
Next we come to the most important part of the C7’s overall quality and this is its display performance. Here is where this particular television absolutely shines in virtually every way and all of its important specs are either excellent or very good, though some of them have to be taken within the context of OLED TV performance metrics, referring here most specifically to the C7’s peak brightness capacity.
Quite simply, the LG C7 is an outstanding 4K HDR TV with full visible support for HDR10, Dolby Vision and, soon, HLG high dynamic range display standards. And for all of these standards, you can bet that this TV gives as good as can be expected of any 4K TV in todays market, with superb, almost unparalleled color delivery, stunning perfect OLED contrast and total, absolute black levels that are as good as or possibly even better than any we’ve yet seen in OLED 4K TVs to-date. Then of course there is the pixel-precise local dimming that all OLED TV technology comes with. Due to the specific nature or Organic Light-Emitting Diode 4K TV displays, each individual pixel on these TVs can be fully dimmed or brightly lit up while leaving any and all pixels around it in a different state of brightness or in total perfect blackness if needed. Thus, unlike even the best LCD 4K TV local dimming systems with full-array LED backlight panels (which even in their best versions dim locally by zones of pixels), OLED TVs can totally dim or completely light up for each of their 8.29 million pixels individually. The C7 is an excellent model at delivering this and especially so because it’s capable of greater peak brightness per individual pixel than any 2016 or 2015 OLED TV we reviewed was. Taking all of these display specs together, the LG C7 also manages to apply them to non-4K sources of content, giving 1080p, 720p and even SD video sources some superb resolution upscaling while applying to them its superb contrast ratios, perfect total blacks and excellent color delivery (at least SDR color for non-HDR videos).
Motion handling in the OLED C7 is also better than we’ve yet seen it in any LCD TV and as good as we’ve ever seen it in any OLED 4K TV. Like all current OLED TVs, the C7 offers incredibly swift motion blur control, with extremely low response times on color shifts in individual pixels. This is also possible specifically due to the nature of OLED pixels, which can change from one color to another with a speed no LCD TV we know of today can match as content moves on the screen. The result is a level of sharpness for past-paced content that’s exquisite and particularly useful for viewers who find motion blur during movement in movies and other programming to be hard on the eyes.
Smart Functionality Audio Support and Connectivity
Finally, the connectivity package and smart functionality of the C7 are both fully modern and robust. Multiple HDMI 2.0a ports offer support for multiple HDR formats and this TV comes with the usual array of USB 3.0 and digital audio ports for some very solid audio performance and Dolby/DTS audio format support if connected to the right sort of sound system. The C7’s native sound performance is also tolerable but we’ll go into that further in our next section. The WebOS 3.5 smart platform on the C7 and all of its 2017 LG 4K TV cousins is excellent as well, but we’ll cover that in further detail below.
4.7 – 4 Reviews
There is very, very little to really criticize in LG’s OLED 4K TVs for 2017 from a consumer-centered point of view and the C7 is no exception to this judgement. This 4K TV is an outstanding performer by any normal home viewing standards and even consumers who are used to owning top-shelf premium 4K HDR TVs will be impressed by what this particular 2017 television delivers. However, for the sake of thoroughness, a few things that are mostly likely to stand out only under specific test conditions are worth mentioning.
The first and most obvious “weakness” of the C7 is the quality of its built-in speakers. The power in the sound produced by this TV’s dual speakers isn’t too bad by native TV speaker standards but it’s also noting to be impressed over. In this LG has changed very little from the speakers we saw in their 2015 and 2016 OLED TVs. We’d strongly recommend getting an external sound bar if you want some serious audio performance which matches the sound system compatibilities that the C7 actually has built into it.
The second more notable weakness of the C7 is a characteristic that still plagues all OLED 4K TV technology to this day. Namely, even at their best, OLED 4K HDR TVs of even the best kind can’t quite match their best premium LCD 4K HDR TV counterparts at peak brightness emissions. LG has brought peak brightness in the C7 up to a very respectable level of over 700 nits but this is still far below the 1400 to 2000 nits that the best LCD HDR TVs of 2016 and 2017 are capable of and this level doesn’t even quite outshine the peak brightness of the similar 2016 B6 OLED TV from this brand, which could also reach peak brightness ratings of over 700 nits. Now we obviously don’t expect OLED to match the best in LCD HDR TV technology at this point in the game and it has to be kept in mind that the perfect, unbeatable black levels of OLED displays make what brightness they deliver look much deeper than it would in any LCD TV. However, for the 2017 LG lineup with this display technology we did have hopes of seeing peak brightness levels of at least 850+ nits.
Despite all this said above about lower peak brightness in the C7, please bear in mind that we’re talking in highly relative terms here. By the standards of virtually all normal 4K TVs and even many, many mid-range LCD HDR 4K TVs, (and much more so SDR 4K or HDTVs) the LG C7 is a remarkably bright piece of display technology. It’s weakness at maximum peak brightness only becomes notable if you put this model up next to a really luminous HDR model like Samsung’s QLED editions or Sony’s X930E HDR 4K television.
Finally a couple of extra minor issues are worth mentioning here which we consider to be particularly minor or which only some consumers won’t like. First of all, there is a bit of image retention to the C7. This is a common problem with OLED TVs and in the C7 along with its 2017 cousins, this issue is actually lesser than we’ve ever seen it before but the residual ghosts of images can be very vaguely visible on a particularly light section of the screen for a few seconds after said image has changed. LG has given their WebOS 3.5 TV control settings a “Pixel refresher” setting in the “OLED Panel settings” menu to eliminate most image retention. Secondly and we mention this only for those readers who happen to need 3D in their 4K TV, the C7 and all of its 2017 4K TV cousins from LG lack 3D technology of any kind. Due to lackluster popularity, LG has removed the technology from its newer televisions. However, Samsung and Sony have also done this so it’s not just an LG issue.
We love the LG OLED C7 4K HDR TV. There’s no denying its excellent quality as a premium 2017 4K TV even when measured by the pickiest of standards and almost anyone except for people who love 3D or need enormous peak brightness in their high dynamic range TVs would probably be very happy with this model if they can afford it. Our biggest complaint about the C7 is that we wish it cost a bit less. From this we can also however say that the C7’s performance is only moderately superior to that of the 2016 B6 model’s and the B6 is currently a lot cheaper, so in our “final” opinion, we’d say that the B6 might offer a better value for your money until the C7 gets cheaper later in 2017.
Key TV Specs
- Screen size: 55 diagonal inches (OLED55C7P), 65 diagonal inches (OLED65C7P)
- Smart TV: WebOS 3.5 with Apps and Full Web Browser
- HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
- VP9 Included. Yes
- HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
- HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
- HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
- Screen Lighting: OLED panel
- Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
- Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
- Remotes: LG smart button remote with voice recognition
- Connectivity: 4 HDMI (all of them 2.0a with HDCP 2.2) ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out,
- Sound: 2.2 Channel with40W (Woofer: 20W) speakers
- Contrast Ratio: infinite (native, real contrast)
- Black Level maximum: 0.000 nits
- 3D Technology: N/A
- TV dimensions (55 inch model): 48.4″ x 28.0″ x 1.8″ inches without stand, 48.4″ x 29.5″ x 8.5″ with stand
- TV weight (55 inch model): 42.3 lb lbs w/ Stand, 38.1 without stand
- Processor: 4K HDR Processor
Some Important Highlights
OLED Black and local dimming: OLED TVs are universally equipped to deliver the best black levels possible of any 4K TV technology in existence today and this characteristic of their pixels is pretty much the same in all models we’ve yet reviewed. The 2017 C7 model delivers just as well as any other OLED model we’ve ever reviewed and the overall effect on picture quality and perceived color vibrancy is stunning indeed. Since black levels are perfect in this TV, contrast is in effect infinite and thus perceived more sharply despite the fact that the C7 doesn’t quite deliver the same peak brightness as some premium LCD HDR 4K TVs.
Another major aspect of OLED display technology which relates directly to these perfect blacks and infinite contrast ratios in the C7 and its cousins is the display panel’s capacity for completely dimming or lighting up parts of the screen right down to the level of individual pixels, even if they’re side by side. Since the C7 (as a 4K TV) has a total of 8.29 million pixels on its screen, you can image just how good the local dimming is with OLED display. Not even the very best LCD TVs come anywhere close to matching this level of precision with their pixel zone-based local dimming capacities and LED backlight arrays.
Superb Peak Brightness: As we commented further above, the C7 OLED TV delivers nowhere near the peak brightness of the best and most premium full-array LCD/LED 4K HDR TVs being sold today. It won’t match models such as Samsung’s new QLED TVs, Sony’s X940E Full-array 4K HDR TV or even 2016 4K HDR LCD TVs like the Samsung KS9800 or much less the Sony Z9D televisions. However, by OLED TV standards, the C7 creates some of the best brightness levels we’ve yet seen in these kinds of TVs and when these levels are combined with its total black level, the resulting perceived brightness is impressive. It should also be mentioned in fairness to the C7 that, with its actual peak brightness of over 700 nits, this OLED TV actually outshines most 4K HDR LCD TVs of the mid-range variety being sold today.
WebOS smart platform Improvements: WebOS 3.5 is the version of this smart platform found in LG’s 2017 4K TVs and it’s better than ever. We’ve always considered WebOS to be the best of the native smart TV systems found on the market since our reviews of even the old 2014 LG 4K televisions. This latest version is more user-friendly, feature-loaded and navigable than ever before with the C7’s smart remote. A cursor also follows the movement of the remote for the C7 as its pointed at the screen, allowing for easy individual selection of apps, content and other things without having to scroll as much. WebOS 3.5 is also designed to handle voice control through the remote control.
Expanded HDR Capabilities: the HDR display capabilities of LG’s OLED TVs since they first got this technology in late 2015 and early 2016, have been very good but now in the 2017 models they’re broader and perhaps better than ever, with notable improvements in HDR contrast range, color vibrancy in the DCI-P3 color space and support for high dynamic range formats, which now includes Dolby Vision, HDR10 and the new addition of HLG broadcast HDR for whenever content in that format comes out from major broadcasters. The C7 is a full, premium HDR 4K TV in other words.
4.7 – 4 Reviews
Key Display Metrics
To summarize the display performance of the C7 briefly, we can say that this 4K TV is outstanding. Across all major metrics of quality, it performs impressively or even amazingly well and its overall display performance is as good as or better than that of any major OLED TV we’ve yet reviewed. Compared to the majority of LCD 4K TVs sold today, the C7 stands a cut above and even outdoes most of the best premium LCD 4K TVs in how well it delivers both 4K HDR content and non-4K SDR video sources along with anything in between. Only on peak brightness does the C7 lack behind its best LCD counterparts but this is compensated for through its perfect black levels.
We’re now going to briefly cover the important metrics for key display specifications categories in the LG C7 OLED television. These consist of its performance on Black Level & contrast, brightness, color performance and finally, motion handling and upscaling. Let’s take a look.
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast: When it comes to OLED technology, these two metrics lose the complexity they can have with LCD TVs. Black level in the C7 is perfect and contrast is thus infinite in this 4K HDR TV. As a result of how OLED display works, local dimming is also precise down to the individual pixel level. In OLED TV’s the technology can’t even really be called local dimming. Pixel dimming would be the more accurate term. Either way, on these three metrics the C7 cannot be matched by any LCD 4K TV of any kind available today.
Brightness: The C7 is quite a bright 4K HDR television by OLED standards and though we were hoping for even larger improvements in the 2017 OLED 4K lineup from LG, this model does show a notable performance boost from all of its 2016 cousins except for the B6. The C7 can handle sustained high HDR brightness in particular with its SDR brightness readings being quite a bit lower.
For SDR brightness (during playback of all SDR content types), the highest level reached by this television sits at 394 nits for a 2% Peak window. In a peak 10% window this level drops to 388 nits and then drops further to just 143 nits over a 100% window. However in a 50% window brightness stays decently high at 389 nits, which is fairly bright by either LCD or OLED 4K TV standards. Sustained SDR brightness in 2%, 10%, 50% and 100% coverage areas stays very similar, with readings of 388 nits, 382 nits, 374 nits and 137 nits respectively.
When being used for playback of full HDR content, the C7 performs much better in smaller display areas but worse than under SDR settings for larger ones. Peak 2% and 10%, HDR brightness reaches 738 nits and 734 nits respectively but then falls off to below what we saw under SDR settings for 50% and 100% windows, with readings of 325 nits and 139 nits respectively. This is an odd sort of inversion and a bit disappointing, though the deep black levels compensate for it in this model. Sustained HDR brightness in 2%, 10%, 50% and 100% display areas measures similar results at 729 nits, 715 nits and then 302 nits and 133 nits respectively.
Color Performance: The LG C7, as a full high dynamic range 4K TV, offers both 10-bit color and WCG (wide color gamut) support for nearly 100% of the DCI-P3 color space. HDR TVs tend to generally perform very well on color delivery and the C7 is a particularly powerful example of how LG has continued to improve on this metric of display performance in its 2017 models. As such, this model delivers nearly perfect 10-bit color support with virtually no banding in any gradation of the 1.07 billion RGB (Red Green Blue) color values that it can display. Furthermore, this television’s support of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut space is exceptionally high at 97.8%. This is the best DCI-P3 color space coverage we’ve yet seen from any 4K TV to date in fact. The C7 also effectively represents a solid 74% of the much larger Rec 2020 color space, which is outstanding.
As for color accuracy, it’s also remarkably good, with a color delta E of just 1.21 after a bit of calibration through the C7’s picture settings menus. Finally, in terms of color volume, the C7 performs well but suffers from one minor problem. This is an inability to show extremely bright colors at the levels of brightness that they’re supposed to have. This is however more due to limitations in OLED pixels than any deficiencies of this model’s general color specs. OLED is getting better at showing bright white light but works a bit less effectively on objects that are both very colorful and need to be very bright. Most of this won’t even be noticeable to an average viewer however.
Motion Handling and Upscaling: The motion handling of the LG C7 is downright superb across the board. Since this is an OLED TV, it manages motion blur with exceptional smoothness and an extremely low nearly perfect response time of just 0.3 milliseconds (the average in even the best LCD 4K TVs is 10 ms, for comparison). There is a bit of image flicker but it’s a minor issue that won’t even be visible for most normal content viewing. As for motion interpolation on the native 120Hz panel of the C7, well it’s basically perfect, with extremely smooth handling of content sources with much lower frame rates.
Finally, the C7 and all of its 2017 OLED 4K cousins support full 24p content playback without judder, in all formats.
Below are the connectivity options of the LG C7 OLED 4K HDR TV. All major advanced content connectivity specs are included and this TV is fully capable of console gaming and PC monitor use in all major resolution formats, frame rates and color subsampling modes. We should also note that the C7 comes with excellent performance for console gaming. This TV robustly supports all content, color sampling and major resolution formats from game consoles and within its Game mode it does this at very low levels of input lag. 4K and 1080p gaming in HDR can be done with an input lag of between 21 and 25 milliseconds. Now. Here are the C7’s inputs, all of them located at the back of this television or along its side:
- HDMI : 4 (All come with HDCP 2.2 and full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- USB : 3 (USB 3.0)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
There is no component input for the LG C7.
The C7 models also offer audio connectivity in the following types
- 1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough ARC DTS
- 1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough Optical DTS
LG has priced their C7 OLED models much more affordably than the even more premium W7 Signature OLED or the 2017 G7 and E7 models for this year. However, the C7 is still fairly expensive with a price that sits a full $1000 higher than that of the only moderately inferior 2016 B6 OLED TV. The following are the prices as of mid-April of 2017, though we suggest clicking the below Amazon links to check them for discounts, sale offerings and general price reductions which can happen at any time.
55 inch OLED55C7P 4K HDR OLED Smart TV: $ $2,796.99
65 inch OLED65C7P 4K HDR LCD Smart TV: $3,997.00
4.7 – 4 Reviews
The Bottom Line
The LG C7 4K HDR TV lineup is one of LG’s best so far created and while we think that these models are a bit pricey considering the B6 and C6 2016 LG OLED’s only moderately inferior performance metrics, they are still better performers at color and brightness than any of last year’s OLED TVs from this brand. Overall, we highly recommend the C7 model in either of its two sizes but hopefully its price drops at least a bit some time soon.