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LG C3 OLED vs LG QNED TVs: A Digital Technology Expert‘s In-Depth Guide

As a digital technology expert with a deep passion for home theater and the latest display innovations, I‘ve closely followed the evolution of TV technology over the years. Today, I‘m excited to provide an extensive, in-depth comparison of two of LG‘s most compelling TV series for 2023: the C3 OLED and the QNED LED TVs.

While both lineups deliver top-tier picture quality and features, there are distinct advantages to each underlying display technology that make them better suited for different viewing preferences and environments. In this guide, I‘ll be diving deep into the key differences between LG‘s OLED and QNED TVs, examining everything from color reproduction to processing to gaming performance, so you can make the most informed decision when choosing your next TV.

OLED vs QNED: Display Technology Breakdown

Before we get into the specifics of LG‘s C3 and QNED series, it‘s important to understand the fundamental differences between the OLED and LED display technologies they employ.

OLED, or Organic Light Emitting Diode, is a self-emissive technology where each pixel produces its own light, allowing for individual control over every pixel‘s brightness and color. This enables OLED TVs like LG‘s C3 to produce perfect black levels, as pixels can be completely turned off. The result is exceptional contrast, detail, and color accuracy that LED TVs struggle to match.

However, OLED‘s main weakness is in peak brightness. Even the latest "Evo" panels used in LG‘s 2023 OLEDs top out around 1000 nits, well short of premium QLED and QNED models. OLED panels can also be susceptible to temporary image retention if a static image is left on screen for too long, although LG has made strides in recent years to mitigate this.

LG‘s QNED series, on the other hand, is a more advanced variation of traditional LED LCD TV technology. By combining Quantum Dot and NanoCell layers with a full-array local dimming mini-LED backlight, QNED TVs are able to produce a wider color gamut, better off-angle viewing, and improved contrast compared to standard LED TVs.

While QNED can‘t match OLED‘s pixel-level contrast and perfect blacks, it makes up for it with significantly higher peak brightness, often exceeding 1500 nits. This allows QNED TVs to deliver a more impactful HDR experience and perform better in rooms with a lot of ambient light. QNED is also immune to burn-in and typically comes in at a lower price point than OLED.

LG C3 OLED vs LG QNED85: A Side-by-Side Comparison

For this face-off, I‘ll be comparing the 65" models of LG‘s C3 OLED and QNED85 series, both of which represent the best balance of performance, features and value within their respective lineups. Let‘s start with a table breaking down the key specs of each model:

Specification LG C3 OLED (65") LG QNED85 (65")
Display Type OLED Evo Panel QNED Mini-LED
Resolution 4K (3840 x 2160) 4K (3840 x 2160)
Processor a9 Gen6 AI a7 Gen5 AI
Refresh Rate 120Hz Native 120Hz Native
HDR Formats Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10, HLG
HDMI Ports 4x HDMI 2.1 4x HDMI 2.1
VRR Support Yes (G-Sync, FreeSync) Yes (G-Sync, FreeSync)
Smart Platform webOS 23 webOS 22
Peak Brightness ~1000 nits ~1500 nits
Color 100% DCI-P3 Coverage 90% DCI-P3 Coverage
Dimensions (W/O Stand) 56.7" x 32.5" x 1.8" 56.9" x 32.8" x 3.4"
Weight (W/O Stand) 50.9 lbs 63.9 lbs
Price (MSRP) $2999 $1499

As you can see, both TVs share many of the same high-end features like 4K 120Hz panels, HDMI 2.1 ports, VRR support, and LG‘s webOS smart platform. However, there are some key differences in picture quality and performance:

Picture Quality

When it comes to overall picture quality, the LG C3 OLED is simply in a class of its own. By combining a 3rd generation "Evo" OLED panel with the a9 Gen6 AI processor, the C3 delivers a reference-level viewing experience for cinematic content and discerning videophiles.

With its self-emitting pixels, the C3 OLED is capable of producing stunningly deep, uniform black levels that create an infinite contrast ratio, allowing you to see every subtle shadow detail and specular highlight. It covers 100% of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut used for 4K HDR content, resulting in pristine, lifelike color reproduction. While it can‘t get as bright as the QNED85, topping out around 1000 nits, LG‘s latest panel and heatsink design allows the C3 to maintain higher sustained brightness compared to past OLEDs.

The C3‘s near-instantaneous response time also results in clear motion without artifacting. Viewing angles are effectively perfect, with no color shifting or contrast loss at even extreme off-angles. All of these strengths make the C3 OLED ideal for watching movies in a light-controlled theater room where you can really appreciate its exceptional black levels and color precision.

In its own right, the QNED85 delivers excellent overall picture quality, even if it can‘t quite match the infinite contrast and color accuracy of the C3 OLED. Utilizing Quantum Dots, LG‘s QNED TVs are able to produce a wider color gamut than standard LED TVs, covering about 90% of DCI-P3. The full array local dimming mini-LED backlight is also a big step up, allowing the QNED85 to precisely dim and brighten in zones to create better contrast between light and dark picture elements.

Mini-LED backlighting also allows the QNED85 to get significantly brighter than any consumer OLED, measuring around 1500 nits in peak HDR highlights per RTINGS lab testing. This extra brightness, combined with LG‘s local contrast boosting and effective glare handling, allows the QNED85 to deliver a punchier, more impactful image in brighter viewing environments.

It‘s also worth noting that, while still excellent overall, the a7 Gen5 processor in the QNED85 is a step down from the a9 Gen6 used in LG‘s OLED lineup. This means the C3 has a slight edge in areas like upscaling lower-resolution content, reducing image noise and banding, and analyzing scenes to optimize the picture in real time. However, the QNED85‘s processing is still top-notch for a TV in its class and price range.

Gaming Performance

For gamers, both the C3 OLED and QNED85 are equipped with HDMI 2.1 ports and native 120Hz panels, allowing you to game in 4K at 120fps on the latest consoles and PC GPUs. Each TV also supports Variable Refresh Rate technologies like NVIDIA G-Sync and AMD FreeSync to eliminate screen tearing and stuttering.

In terms of responsiveness, the C3 OLED has the edge due to OLED‘s near-instantaneous pixel response time. In testing performed by RTINGS, the C3‘s input lag measures an incredible 5ms in game mode, making it one of the most responsive TVs on the market. The QNED85 is no slouch though, with input lag around 10ms, which is still excellent and unnoticeable to most gamers.

Both TVs also support gaming features like ALLM to automatically switch into game mode when a console is detected, HGiG and Dolby Vision Game for proper tone mapping with HDR games, and LG‘s Game Optimizer menu for quick adjustments to VRR, input lag boost, and black and white stabilizers.

Ultimately, you can‘t go wrong with either TV for next-gen gaming, but the C3 OLED offers a slight responsiveness advantage, as well as its perfect blacks and pixel-level contrast which can really make dark scenes and shadow details pop in cinematic games. The QNED85 is better suited for brighter gaming environments where its extra luminance is more beneficial.

Design & Smart Features

The C3 OLED and QNED85 both feature sleek, modern designs with slim panels, minimal bezels, and understated stands. The C3 OLED‘s panel is an incredible 1.8" deep without the stand, allowing it to mount nearly flush to your wall, while the QNED85 is a bit thicker at 3.4" deep to accommodate its full array local dimming backlight.

In terms of weight, the 65" C3 OLED comes in at 50.9 lbs without the stand, notably lighter than the 65" QNED85 at 63.9 lbs, likely due to the former‘s lighter display panel and lack of an external backlight system.

Both TVs run LG‘s latest webOS platform, which is consistently praised as one of the most full-featured, easy-to-use smart TV interfaces. The C3 ships with the latest webOS 23, while the QNED85 runs the very similar webOS 22. Navigation is snappy and apps are abundant on both models, with major streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, and HBO Max, as well as LG Channels‘ wide selection of free content.

LG‘s Magic Remote and ThinQ AI are also included, allowing you to use voice commands to pull up content, control your TV‘s settings, and interact with compatible smart home devices. The C3 and QNED85 support Alexa, Google Assistant, and LG‘s own ThinQ for hands-free controls right through the TV.

LG C3 OLED vs LG G2 OLED: The Upgrade Pick

For discerning videophiles considering one of LG‘s premium OLED models, it‘s worth discussing how the C3 compares to the flagship G2 series. Both TVs share the same "Evo" OLED panel, so overall picture quality is largely similar between them, with those perfect blacks, infinite contrast, and wide viewing angles that make OLED the reference standard for picture quality.

The main differences come down to design, brightness, and processing. The G2 has what LG calls a "Gallery" design, with an ultra-slim profile and included flush wall mount that allows it to hang on your wall like a piece of art. It gets slightly brighter than the C3 thanks to its more advanced heatsink and also features the step-up a9 Gen5 AI processor for even better upscaling and dynamic tone mapping.

However, in real-world viewing the differences between the C3 and G2 are minimal, especially if you plan to use a TV stand instead of wall-mounting. The G2 is also significantly more expensive than the C3, often by $1000 or more at the same screen size. As such, the C3 offers the better overall value for videophiles who want world-class picture quality without spending a huge premium on incremental improvements.

The Verdict: Which TV Reigns Supreme?

When it comes to choosing between LG‘s C3 OLED and QNED series, the best option for you ultimately depends on your specific viewing habits, room conditions, and budget. If you primarily watch movies and high-quality TV shows in a light-controlled room where you can appreciate every ounce of shadow detail and color accuracy, the C3 OLED is the clear choice. Its self-emitting pixels, perfect blacks, and reference-level processing deliver a truly unparalleled viewing experience that continues to set the standard for picture quality in the consumer TV market.

On the other hand, if you have a brighter viewing space or tend to watch more mixed content like sports and cable TV, the extra luminance and punch of the QNED85 may be more beneficial. Its quantum dot color and full array local dimming produce excellent overall picture quality in its own right, and it‘s able to maintain that performance better in rooms with high ambient light. The fact that it gets significantly brighter than OLEDs also allows it to deliver a more dynamic, impactful HDR experience, especially with specular highlights.

For gamers and budding home theater enthusiasts, both TVs offer excellent motion clarity and responsiveness, with HDMI 2.1 and VRR support to take full advantage of the latest consoles and GPUs. The C3 OLED does eke out a slight advantage thanks to its near-instantaneous response time and lower input lag, but unless you‘re a professional gamer, you‘d be hard pressed to notice a difference between the two.

Lastly, there is the issue of price. While LG‘s OLEDs continue to come down in price every year, there‘s no denying that the QNED85 offers an excellent value at often half the cost of a comparable C3 model. In the 65" size I‘ve been comparing, the C3 carries an MSRP of $2999 compared to just $1499 for the QNED85. That‘s a significant price gap that may be hard for more budget-conscious shoppers to justify, even considering the C3 OLED‘s advantages in outright picture quality.

Ultimately, if you want the absolute best viewing experience for movie night and can afford the premium, the C3 OLED is a reference-level TV that continues to demonstrate the many strengths of the OLED format. It‘s as close to perfect as any display I‘ve tested and is sure to satisfy the most discerning cinephiles and videophiles.

However, if you want a top-tier TV for a wider variety of content and viewing conditions without breaking the bank, the QNED85 is an excellent all-around performer that really shines in brighter rooms. While it may not have the pristine black levels and color precision of the C3 OLED, its higher peak brightness and fantastic overall picture quality still put it well above many TVs costing much more.

Between the exceptional LG C3 OLED and the excellent value of the QNED85, it‘s never been a better time to upgrade your aging TV to one of these phenomenal LG displays. I hope this in-depth guide has given you all the details and context you need to decide which one is right for you!