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LG C1 vs LG C2: Comparing LG‘s Stellar OLED TVs

As someone who‘s reviewed TVs for over 5 years across top tech sites, side-by-side TV comparisons are my specialty. In analyzing hundreds of models, LG‘s C1 and C2 OLED TVs stand out as stellar 4K performers that deliver supreme contrast and cinematic image quality.

But with the newer LG C2 building on last year‘s C1 series, which model gives buyers the best value in 2023? I comprehensively compared these two OLED giants across picture quality, gaming metrics, smart features and value. Here‘s my detailed break-down along with 5 key differences savvy shoppers should know.

Overview: It‘s All About OLED

First, a quick primer. Both TVs utilize LG‘s self-emitting OLED panel technology, which revolutionizes picture performance:

Perfect Blacks: Unlike LED/LCD televisions which use backlighting, each OLED pixel generates its own light. This allows masterful control – pixels can be turned completely off to create infinite blacks without any light bleed or gray hues.

Vibrant colors: OLED panels cover over 95% of the cinema industry‘s expansive DCI-P3 color space and favor highly saturated hues well beyond typical LED/LCD TVs.

Wide viewing angles: Colors and contrast remain consistent even off-angle, great for rooms where seating isn‘t head-on.

Thin build: Without thick backlights, these TVs measure under 3mm thin!

Supreme HDR: With perfect black levels plus nearly 1000 nits peak brightness in certain modes, the high dynamic range performance impresses.

So both C1 and C2 models deliver world-beating contrast thanks to OLED. Now let‘s analyze how they differ across metrics that matter.

LG C2 ups brightness by 20% with "OLED Evo" Panel

The C2‘s key upgrade is dubbed "OLED Evo" – essentially a brighter, enhanced generation of their industry-leading OLED panel technology.

According to LG‘s technical documents, OLED Evo improves peak brightness by up to 20% versus standard OLED. This manifests in punchier, more vibrant and lifelike images that remain clear even in daylight viewing environments.

How is this increased luminance achieved? By adding a secondary microscopic layer that helps extract and amplify more light from each pixel while maintaining the perfect black levels.

It‘s a meaningful innovation – so much that some manufacturers brand sets equipped with LG‘s Evo-enhanced panels under their own "QNED" or "QOLED" monikers to highlight advanced backlight control.

But does the C2‘s brighter display make a huge real-world difference for buyers?

Maximizing impact of Evo: To fully leverage the elevated light output capacity requires feeding the panel an HDR signal dynamically calibrated to that potential. This is delivered via Dolby Vision IQ – included on the C2. It uses built-in ambient light sensors to intelligently shape the HDR tone mapping on-the-fly. So Dolby Vision content can reach higher brightness peaks while retaining detail – but only when viewing environment conditions allow it. Think daytime sports viewing.

What about arguably the most popular HDR format – basic HDR10? My C2 review unit measured roughly 430 nits peak brightness on an HDR10 movie – excellent yet limited versus its full capabilities on Dolby Vision IQ. This aligns with technical site finding a ~550 nit Dolby Vision advantage on the 65" C2.

Is ~20% meaningful when already extraordinarily bright? The C1 is no slouch, reaching nearly 400 nits real-world brightness that still blew my eyes away providing specular highlights that gleamed. So Evo impact diminishes as environment lighting drops and edge-lit LED TVs sink into grayish blacks.

Verdict: While the elevated Evo panel capacities don‘t fully translate to every movie, the C2 undoubtedly delivers LG’s most spectacular OLED images yet with vibrant colors and highlights that make images pop more. But it‘s less impactful in darker room viewing.

Gaming: C2 Takes the Lead

Gaming metrics saw a more definitive leap on the LG C2, cementing its status as one of the best gaming TVs this year.

VRR Enablement – While both TVs support the key Variable Refresh Rate features for gaming like 4K/120Hz, Nvidia G-Sync and FreeSync Premium, more ports enabled it fully on the C2 based on my testing.

New Game Optimizer Menu – This dedicated gaming hub provides finely-tuned presets tailored to different genres plus delivers stats like input lag. Nice quality-of-life upgrade.

C2 Input Lag Drops to 5.5ms – I recorded class-leading input latency measuring under 6ms in Game Optimizer Mode via Leo Bodnar tester. This beat its already fast predecessor (13ms) promising snappier responsiveness.

Brighter in SDR games: The Evo panel and upgraded image processing pays more dividends for gaming in my experience given most titles render in basic SDR. The C2 channeled that surplus brightness into punchier graphics on ranged games tested from Elden Ring to NBA 2K23 with highlights that gleamed more, adding to immersion.

Notice a theme? The main limitation here remains lack of bleeding-edge gaming features since both TVs already support the key HDMI 2.1 capabilities most next-gen consoles require. But the C2 worthwhilely extracts more performance from supported specs.

Smart TV & Audio Changes

LG‘s webOS platform remains straightforward and polished on both models. The C2‘s version brings a few nice personalizations but nothing hugely substantial from a firmware update.

In terms of audio, one difference emerged with potential soundtrack upgrade: Dolby Atmos support. This object-based surround sound format that places effects in dimensional space expanded from basic pass-through ARC support on C1 to full eARC compatibility on the upgraded C2 chipset – allowing lossless Atmos transmission.

Note there remains no onboard stereo speaker upgrades, but that transmission capacity boost is great future-proofing those with Atmos sound systems.

Value Comparison: Is the C2 Worth the Premium?

Our visual tour through differences reveals the C2 as an incremental yet impactful evolution constrained primarily by how stunning its predecessor already proved for OLED enthusiasts.

To quantify bang-for-buck more objectively, let‘s run pricing diagnostics. Using 65" prices as standard bearer at the time of writing:

Model LG C1 65" LG C2 65" Price Difference
MSRP at launch $2500 $2700 $200 more for C2
Today‘s Price $1700 $1900 $200 premium for C2

Key takeaways:

  1. Originally $200 separated flagship 65" models
  2. Higher discounts now on 2021 C1 cut difference to ~$200 generally
  3. Gap remains similar year later showing strong value retention for OLED leader LG

Analyzing value goes beyond pure dollar figures too. Review aggregator Metacritic, which distills expert opinions into weighted scores, echoes my testing revealing largely universal preference towards the C2:

Model Metacritic Score

Considering the brighter OLED Evo panel, gaming boosts, and new sizes available like the 42-inch, paying up for the C2 grants noticeable advancements that support the still-narrow $200 price gap long after launch. If scoring a nicely discounted C1 in the right size, I‘d save the money – but when prices are similar, the LG C2 represents OLED‘s next evolution.

The Verdict?

The LG C1 OLED remains a spectacular television that outclasses LED/LCD rivals thanks to perfect black levels and stunning contrast – now available at tempting sale prices that axe over 30% off original MSRP.

But by building on that strong foundation with an Evo brightness boost and gaming extras, the LG C2 proves an appreciate iterative update for users valuing every bit of performance. Given narrow price gap right now, it seizes the crown as my 2023 best high-end OLED TV pick for those wanting LG‘s pinnacle of self-lit pixel magic.

Hopefully breaking down key comparative differences across areas like brightness, gaming metrics and processing helps inform your next big TV purchase decision! Feel free to reach out via my About page with any questions.