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The 6 Best Reasons to Avoid an LG C1 TV

The LG C1 OLED TV was widely praised as one of the top 4K TVs to buy when it launched in 2021. It offered the signature perfect blacks, infinite contrast, and wide viewing angles of OLED technology, along with HDMI 2.1 ports, variable refresh rate for gaming, and a sleek design. The C1 was especially appealing as one of the most affordable OLED options on the market.

However, display technology moves fast, and the last few years have seen some major advancements – especially when it comes to high dynamic range (HDR) performance. While the LG C1 still holds up well overall, there are several key reasons you may want to avoid purchasing this TV in 2023, particularly if you care about getting the best HDR experience. Let‘s dive into the details.

HDR Brightness Falls Short
One of the most important factors in delivering an impactful HDR experience is a TV‘s peak brightness. This allows it to really make those bright highlights pop and deliver a more lifelike image. While OLED is unbeatable when it comes to dark room performance and perfect black levels, it has traditionally lagged behind LED LCD TVs in terms of peak brightness.

The LG C1 has a peak brightness of around 750-800 nits. When it launched, this was decent for an OLED, but it falls well short of high-end LED LCD models that could hit 1500-2000 nits. It‘s also notably dimmer than more recent OLED models like the LG C2 (~850 nits) and especially the LG G2 (~1000 nits).

This means that bright highlight details in HDR content won‘t stand out quite as much on the C1. You‘ll still benefit from OLED‘s perfect blacks and pixel-level contrast control, but the overall effect is less impressive than newer, brighter models. Specular highlights, explosions, sun glare – anything that should leap off the screen – will look a bit subdued.

ABL Can Pump the Brakes
The LG C1 also has a fairly aggressive Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL). This is a feature on all OLED TVs that dims the overall screen brightness when large areas of the screen are filled with bright content. It‘s meant to prevent uneven wear on the OLED panel and reduce power consumption.

However, on the C1, the ABL is quite noticeable and can kick in abruptly in certain scenes, causing a jarring drop in overall brightness. Worse, since it dims the whole screen, it can actually REDUCE perceived contrast by making darker parts of the image darker along with the bright parts. This is the opposite of what you want with HDR.

While you can disable ABL in the service menu on the C1, this will increase the risk of burn-in over time. Newer OLED models like the C2 and Samsung S95B have less aggressive ABL that allows for higher sustained brightness without such a sudden, noticeable dip.

Limited HDR Format Support
For an HDR TV in 2023, you‘d ideally want support for a wide range of formats, including HDR10, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HLG. This ensures you can take advantage of the expanding library of HDR content regardless of which format it uses.

The LG C1 supports basic HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG – but it lacks HDR10+. This is a dynamic metadata format (similar to Dolby Vision) that allows brightness levels to be adjusted on a scene-by-scene or even frame-by-frame basis. It‘s not as widely used as Dolby Vision, but it is becoming more common, especially on Amazon Prime Video.

By contrast, some other TVs like the Hisense U8H and TCL 6-Series offer both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support. The Panasonic LZ2000 is one of the only OLED models to include HDR10+ alongside Dolby Vision. While not a huge loss for most people, it‘s another area where the C1 shows its age in the HDR department.

The Burn-In Factor
Perhaps the most widely known drawback of OLED TVs in general is the risk of permanent burn-in. This can occur when static elements, such as a channel logo or scoreboard, are displayed on the screen for long periods of time. Over many hours, these static images can become "etched" into the panel, leaving a faint ghost image even when watching other content.

The LG C1 is just as susceptible to burn-in as any other OLED TV. LG has included some features to help mitigate the risk, such as pixel shifting and static image dimming. However, these don‘t eliminate the possibility entirely – they just reduce the likelihood.

Burn-in is unlikely with normal, varied content. But if you watch a lot of content with static graphics (news, sports, etc.) or play video games with persistent HUD elements, it‘s something to keep in mind. The C1‘s relatively low peak brightness may actually help here, as brighter OLEDs are potentially more vulnerable to burn-in over time. Still, an LED LCD TV would avoid the issue entirely.

A Bump in the Low FPS Road
Another quirk of the LG C1 (and other LG OLEDs) is that it doesn‘t handle low frame rate content particularly well. When watching movies or TV shows at 24fps, or even older games at 30fps, you may notice some judder and stuttering, especially in panning shots.

This is due to the way LG‘s motion processing works. The C1 has to rely on black frame insertion at 60Hz to display 24p content (since 60 is not evenly divisible by 24). This can result in some duplication and unevenness in motion compared to TVs that can refresh at a multiple of 24Hz.

You can mitigate this somewhat using LG‘s Cinematic Movement motion interpolation setting, which will generate new frames to smooth out the judder. However, this introduces a "soap opera effect" that some viewers find unnatural and distracting. It also dims the picture slightly.

Newer LG OLEDs like the C2 have an improved "Filmmaker Mode" that helps with 24p playback. But the C1‘s 120Hz panel means motion still isn‘t quite as clean with 24p content as a 120Hz OLED would be.

Lackluster Audio
While picture quality is the star of the show with any TV, audio is still an important consideration. A TV with weak, thin-sounding audio can put a damper on the overall viewing experience, even if the image looks great.

Unfortunately, audio is one area where the LG C1 just doesn‘t impress. It has a very basic 2.2 channel speaker system with 40W of total power. That‘s fairly typical for a thin OLED TV, but it results in limited dynamic range, minimal bass, and a small soundstage.

The C1 supports Dolby Atmos decoding, but without actual up-firing or surround speakers, the effect is minimal. It also has an AI Acoustic Tuning feature that uses the microphone in the remote to adjust the audio to your room. But no amount of DSP can make up for underpowered hardware.

For any kind of immersive movie watching or gaming, you‘ll really want to pair the C1 with a soundbar or surround sound system. The built-in speakers are fine for casual viewing, but they don‘t do justice to premium audio formats or blockbuster content. With some other high-end TVs adding more powerful multi-speaker arrays, the C1‘s audio is decidedly behind the curve.

Paying a Premium for Older Tech
A final reason you might want to avoid the LG C1 in 2023 comes down to simple economics. Even though it‘s now a two-year-old model, it‘s still commanding a fairly high price. As of this writing, a 65-inch C1 costs around $1600-1800 at most major retailers.

For roughly the same price, you could get a 65-inch LG C2, which has a brighter Evo panel, marginally wider color gamut, and less aggressive ABL. The C2 also uses LG‘s newer Alpha a9 Gen5 processor for slightly better upscaling and a few HDMI 2.1 gaming enhancements. You‘d be paying the same amount of money for a notably newer, more capable TV.

If you can stretch your budget a bit higher, stepping up to an LG G2 or Samsung S95B would get you an even brighter OLED panel with a higher color volume and better-sustained HDR highlights. The S95B also uses an RGB subpixel structure that eliminates the "WRGB" fringing issue some users notice on close-up text with traditional WOLEDs.

Even outside of OLED, there are some compelling LED LCD options that would deliver a better HDR experience than the C1 for a similar or lower price. The Hisense U8H and TCL R655, for example, are excellent mini-LED TVs with much higher peak brightness, better local dimming, and both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support.

The point is, while the LG C1 is far from a bad TV, it‘s hard to recommend buying one in 2023 when there are several newer, better-performing options readily available for a similar cost. Its HDR brightness and format support in particular are showing their age compared to the competition.

Making the OLED Choice
To be clear, the LG C1 is still a great TV overall. It delivers the unparalleled black levels, contrast, and viewing angles that made OLED a revelation when it first hit the market. For many viewers, those core strengths are still worth the high price of entry, even with the drawbacks we‘ve discussed.

However, if you want the absolute best HDR performance currently available in an OLED TV, you‘re better off opting for a newer model like the LG C2 or G2, Samsung S95B, or Sony A95K. These TVs offer significantly higher peak brightness, improved tone mapping, and (in some cases) wider color gamuts. They simply deliver a more impactful, lifelike HDR image.

As always, it‘s important to consider your specific viewing habits, environment, and budget when choosing a TV. If you mostly watch SDR content in a dark room and aren‘t as concerned about having the latest and greatest tech, the LG C1 could still be a good fit. You may even be able to find one at a solid discount as sellers clear out old stock.

But if you‘re looking for a truly future-proof HDR experience that will hold up for years to come, the C1‘s limitations in both hardware and software make it hard to recommend as a smart long-term purchase. With so many exciting recent developments in both OLED and LED LCD technology, it‘s well worth investing in something newer if high-impact HDR is a priority.