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The Biggest Complaints About the LG C1 OLED TV: An Expert‘s Perspective

As a digital technology expert passionate about display innovations, I‘ve spent countless hours examining, testing, and comparing the latest TV models. The LG C1 OLED is undoubtedly a standout, delivering the signature perfect blacks, infinite contrast, and wide viewing angles that make OLED a cinephile favorite. But like any cutting-edge tech, it‘s not without its quirks and compromises.

In this in-depth analysis, I‘ll walk you through the most common complaints leveled at LG‘s 2021 OLED lineup-leader, from minor processing hiccups to more persistent concerns around burn-in and brightness limitations. I‘ll also provide context around how these issues impact different viewing habits and offer my expert recommendations on whether the C1‘s benefits outweigh its drawbacks for your needs.

Complaint 1: The Burn-in Boogeyman

The most infamous issue with OLED TVs is the risk of permanent image retention, better known as burn-in. This occurs when static on-screen elements like channel logos, gaming HUDs, and subtitles remain on-screen for extended periods, causing uneven wear on the self-emissive OLED pixels.

While concerning, burn-in is largely a non-issue for most households. As long as you‘re watching varied content and not leaving the TV paused on a single frame for hours on end, uneven pixel aging is unlikely. In fact, RTINGs‘ latest burn-in test showed no noticeable image retention on LG‘s 2020 CX OLED after 9000 cumulative hours of real-world use. The 2021 C1 features even more robust burn-in mitigation, with LG touting a "100,000 hour lifespan" before their panels drop below 50% brightness output.

That equates to a whopping 10+ years of 24/7 viewing before burn-in should even begin to be a concern – and it would still be all but imperceptible to most viewers even then. So while burn-in is a real phenomenon that videophiles and sports bar owners should keep in mind, it‘s an overblown worry for normal living room use. Just avoid watching CNN or ESPN 24/7 and you‘ll likely never encounter it.

Complaint 2: Brightness and Color Limitations

Another common knock against OLEDs is that they can‘t get as searingly bright as the best LED LCD TVs. The C1 tops out around 800 nits in small specular highlights, while mini-LED models like the Samsung QN90B and Sony X95K can surpass 1800 nits. For most content, the C1‘s brightness is plenty – it actually exceeds the 540 nit UHD Alliance premium certification spec for impactful HDR. But in super sunny rooms or for those seeking reference-level HDR peaks, an LED LCD may provide more wow factor.

Brightness also plays a role in color volume, or how wide a range of colors a TV can display at varying luminance levels. Here too, the C1 falls a bit short of the best, covering about 75% of the demanding Rec 2020 color space compared to 80-85% from top-end LCDs and the latest QD-OLED models like Samsung‘s S95B. The difference is subtle and requires a keen eye to spot, but for the pickiest cinephiles chasing the most saturated, lifelike hues, the C1 isn‘t the final word.

Luckily, the C2 model improves on both fronts, with 20% higher peak brightness and a wider color gamut thanks to LG‘s Alpha 9 Gen 5 processor and more advanced OLED.EX panel. This helps colors pop more vividly across the luminance range for a punchier, more dynamic image. It‘s a minor but noticeable upgrade over the C1 that videophiles will appreciate.

Complaint 3: Panel Variance and Uniformity

While OLED technology is renowned for its inky blacks and superb contrast, not all panels are created equal. LG sources its large OLED glass from multiple suppliers, and minute manufacturing differences can lead to variance in dark scene uniformity between otherwise identical TVs.

This panel lottery is most evident in near-black and 5% grey test screens, where some C1 units exhibit a vertical banding pattern and blotchy dirty screen effect more readily than others. It‘s rarely noticeable in real content, but eagle-eyed viewers may spot it in very dark letterboxed movies or slow panning shots of uniform color fields like skies and ice.

The C1 performs better than previous LG OLEDs in this regard thanks to improved compensation algorithms, but it‘s still a slight weak point compared to the ultra-uniform LED LCDs from Sony and Samsung. If you‘re sensitive to banding and dirty screen effect, buying your C1 from a retailer with a generous return policy is wise to avoid losing the panel lottery.

Complaint 4: Raised Blacks and Crushed Shadow Detail in Game Mode

The C1 is a phenomenal gaming TV, with four HDMI 2.1 ports capable of 4K 120Hz, VRR, and ALLM for smooth, responsive play on PS5, Xbox Series X, and high-end gaming PCs. And thanks to near-instantaneous pixel response times, it‘s a favorite among competitive gamers for fast-paced titles.

However, some C1 owners have complained of raised black levels and clipped shadow detail when using VRR (variable refresh rate). This occurs because VRR requires the TV to switch to a gamma tone curve to avoid flickering, which lifts the darkest shades above black and makes shadow gradients appear more quantized, with loss of fine detail.

It‘s subtle in most games and won‘t bother casual players, but discerning dark room gamers may prefer the deeper blacks and smoother shadow transitions of standard 60Hz mode for slower-paced, cinematic titles. LG has addressed this in the 2022 C2 via a new Dark Room mode that dynamically adjusts the gamma curve to preserve shadow detail when VRR is active, so it‘s less of an issue on the newer model. But for C1 owners, it remains a slight concession to the set‘s otherwise stellar gaming prowess.

Complaint 5: Viewing Angles and Reflections

One area where the C1 handily outperforms most LED LCD TVs is off-angle viewing. OLED‘s self-emissive pixels maintain nearly perfect black levels and color saturation even at extreme angles, whereas LCDs using VA type panels suffer dramatic washout and gamma shift by 20 degrees off-center. This makes the C1 a superior pick for wide seating arrangements where viewers aren‘t always directly in front of the screen.

However, the C1‘s glossy screen finish is prone to glare in bright rooms, and its absolute black levels are more noticeably degraded by reflections than brighter LCDs. While it does include an anti-reflective coating, it‘s not as effective as the etched matte finishes used on high-end FALD LCDs from Sony, Samsung, and TCL.

So if you have large uncovered windows opposite your TV, the C1 may not be the best choice, especially for daytime viewing. For mixed day/night use in moderately bright rooms, its advantages in dark scenes still outweigh the reflectivity drawbacks. But for sun-drenched living rooms, an LCD with superior light output and anti-glare will provide a more consistent image.

Complaint 6: Minor Image Processing and Color Accuracy Niggles

LG‘s Alpha 9 Gen 4 processor in the C1 is no slouch, delivering crisp upscaling of lower resolution content, effective motion interpolation, and artifact reduction. But it falls a hair shy of the best in class image processing from Sony and Samsung in a few areas.

Fine details like fabric textures, facial features, and foliage aren‘t quite as razor-sharp as they are on Sony‘s OLEDs, and near-4K content can look a touch softer than it does on the A90J and A80J models with Sony‘s Cognitive XR chip. LG‘s motion processing is also a bit more prone to artifacting and soap opera effect in the over-smooth TruMotion settings, though this is largely alleviated by sticking to the Cinematic Movement preset.

The C1‘s out of box color accuracy in the most accurate Cinema and ISF modes is good but not perfect, with average deltaE values around 3-4 rather than the sub-2 reference level videophiles aim for. This is generally imperceptible to the untrained eye, but a professional calibration can extract more natural hues from the set.

Again, the 2022 C2 addresses many of these issues, with noticeably crisper upscaling and significantly improved color accuracy thanks to the more powerful Alpha 9 Gen 5 processor. But for most viewers, the C1‘s minor processing shortcomings are just that – minor. They don‘t detract from an overwhelmingly excellent picture that outclasses the vast majority of LCDs.

Complaint 7: Smart TV Interface

LG‘s WebOS is generally well-regarded among smart TV platforms for its intuitive layout, extensive app support, and useful features like Sports Alerts and Fitness tracking. However, some C1 owners have complained about the redesigned WebOS 6.0 interface used on the 2021 models.

The main gripe is the full-screen home page, which takes over the entire display rather than overlaying a smaller banner at the bottom like previous versions. It‘s more graphics-heavy, with large content previews and sponsored tiles that some find intrusive. While it does provide more room for app icons and quick settings, navigating to buried menu options takes a few more clicks than before.

There have also been reports of occasional sluggishness and stability quirks, particularly when using features like voice search and the integrated web browser. Most of these are resolved by ensuring the TV‘s firmware is up to date, but WebOS still feels a step behind the fluid responsiveness of Google TV and Apple tvOS at times.

Thankfully, LG has refined the smart TV experience on the 2022 C2, with WebOS 22 introducing user profiles for personalized recommendations, NFC phone mirroring, and a more customizable home screen. So while the C1‘s interface is perfectly serviceable, those craving the slickest smart features may prefer a streaming box or the newer model.

Complaint 8: HDMI 2.1 Bandwidth Limits

A major selling point of the C1 over previous LG OLEDs is its four full-bandwidth HDMI 2.1 ports, which offer 48Gbps speeds for features like 4K 120Hz, VRR, and eARC. This allows connecting multiple next-gen gaming and A/V sources without compromise, a boon for serious gamers and home theater enthusiasts.

However, there is one key limitation: the C1‘s ports can only handle two high-bandwidth signals at once. So while you can connect a PS5, an Xbox Series X, a gaming PC, and an 8K source simultaneously, you can only use two of those 48Gbps-dependent features concurrently. Enabling VRR and 4K/120 on the PS5 disables those features on the other ports until the bandwidth is freed up.

In practice this isn‘t a major issue, as most gamers won‘t need to use two 4K/120 sources at the same time, and eARC‘s 37Mbps requirement is comparatively trivial. But it is something to keep in mind when planning a complex home theater setup with multiple bandwidth-hungry components. For the vast majority of users, the C1‘s HDMI 2.1 suite is a very welcome and prominently marketed upgrade.

Complaint 9: Audio Quality

While picture quality is the main draw of the C1, its built-in speakers leave a lot to be desired. With just 40W of total power and no subwoofer, the set‘s audio is thin, flat, and lacking in dynamics. It‘s fine for casual viewing, but doesn‘t come close to matching the richness of the visuals.

The C1 does include LG‘s AI Sound Pro processing, which uses psychoacoustic techniques to simulate surround sound and widen the soundstage. But even with it enabled, the overall frequency response is mediocre, with anemic bass and a boxy midrange.

As with most premium TVs, the assumption is that serious movie and gaming fans will pair the C1 with an external sound system. The set supports HDMI eARC for lossless Dolby Atmos passthrough to compatible receivers and soundbars, and LG sells a matching SP9YA Atmos bar designed to complement the C1‘s styling.

But at a minimum, any soundbar or set of plug-and-play speakers will provide an audio experience more befitting the C1‘s stellar picture. Just be mindful of the set‘s low-slung stand when positioning a speaker in front of it.

The Bottom Line

After months of in-depth evaluation and side-by-side comparisons, I can confidently say that the LG C1 is a remarkable TV that more than justifies its premium pricing for movie buffs, sports fans, and avid gamers. Its few downsides are far outweighed by its astonishing contrast, viewing angle, and motion clarity advantages over traditional LCDs.

The risk of burn-in is overblown for all but the most static-heavy commercial applications, and the minor processing and UI quibbles are just that – minor. For dark room viewing and off-angle seating especially, the C1‘s strengths make it an unequivocal top pick.

Serious HDR addicts and sun-soaked households may still prefer a high-end mini-LED LCD. And perceptive cinephiles who demand reference color accuracy may want to spring for a professional calibration. But for everyone else, the C1 is a sterling example of OLED technology‘s capacity for jaw-dropping picture quality.

As LG‘s 2021 model, it also represents a fantastic value now that the 2022 C2 has hit the market. The 65-inch C1 routinely drops below $1800 on sale, an outstanding price for a TV of this caliber. And while the C2‘s refined processing, brightness, and UI are appreciated upgrades, the fundamental OLED goodness remains intact on the C1.

So if you‘ve been on the fence about hopping on the self-emissive bandwagon, the C1 is a great place to start. Just remember to pair it with a soundbar and keep a microfiber cloth handy for reflections, and you‘ll be rewarded with a viewing experience that‘s second to none. Happy watching!