LG OLED TV gets more affordable with A1 series starting at $1,300 – CNET

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The G1 Evo Gallery series promises better OLED picture quality than ever.

LG

OLED is the king of TVs and LG is the king of OLED. The company offers more varieties of OLED screen than any manufacturer and its 2021 lineup is more diversified than ever, in both price and capability. There’s a step-up G1 series called Evo that packs an all-new panel that’s been re-engineered to improve light output, but the biggest news to mainstream shoppers is the launch of a new A1 series that’s easier on the wallet, if not exactly cheap.

The new A1 series starts at $1,300 for the 48-inch size. That’s not quite the lowest price we’ve seen for any OLED — the sale price for Vizio’s 55-inch, 2020 model is $1,200 right now — but it represents a new low for LG’s initial pricing, and is sure to fall later in the year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that A1 get down to $1,000 for the holiday season in the 48-inch and maybe even the 55-inch size.

The bad news for video quality aficionados is that the A1 has lower-end specifications that could cause its image quality to lag slightly behind other OLED TVs like our Editors’ Choice for 2020, the CX series. It also lacks high-end gaming features, namely 4K/120Hz input and VRR, that can eke the best quality out of a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X

We’ll know how the A1 compares to other OLED TVs once we have the chance to review it. In the meantime here’s what we know now.

LG 2021 OLED TV pricing and availability

Series Model Size Price Shipping
A1 OLED48A1PUA 48-inch $1,300 June
A1 OLED55A1PUA 55-inch $1,600 April
A1 OLED65A1PUA 65-inch $2,200 April
A1 OLED77A1PUA 77-inch $3,200 June
C1 OLED48C1PUB 48-inch $1,500 April
C1 OLED55C1PUB 55-inch $1,800 March
C1 OLED65C1PUB 65-inch $2,500 March
C1 OLED77C1PUB 77-inch $3,800 March
C1 OLED83C1PUA 83-inch $6,000 May
G1 OLED55G1PUA 55-inch $2,100 March
G1 OLED65G1PUA 65-inch $3,000 March
G1 OLED77G1PUA 77-inch $4,500 April

Now playing: Watch this: LG amps up the brightness in its 2021 OLED and QNED TVs


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In case you’re new here, OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode. OLED screens in TVs, phones and other devices produce superior picture quality compared to LCD, the only other major display technology on the market, because each individual pixel emits its own light and can be turned off completely, creating infinite contrast

Last year the best high-end TV I reviewed was the LG CX series OLED TV, and in my side-by-side tests it beat LCD models like Samsung and TCL’s QLED TVs. Only LG, Sony and Vizio sell OLED TVs in the US and panels for all three manufacturers are produced by one company: LG Display. For years LGD’s OLED panels have remained essentially unchanged, albeit excellent, while LCD TVs continued to improve. Peak light output on the brightest LCDs is more than double that of OLEDs available now, and brightness is an important component of picture quality, especially HDR. New Mini-LED-powered LCDs like Samsung’s Neo QLED and LG’s own QNED promise to further widen the gap.

LG’s new G1 series Evo TVs for 2021, along with the brighter OLED models from Sony, represent the first major (sorry) evolution in OLED since HDR itself in 2015. 

Here’s a quick look at the differences between LG’s 2021 OLED lineup and how it breaks down.

A1 series: As LG’s least expensive 2021 OLED TV, the main difference between the A1 and C1 is lack of HDMI 2.1, a less impressive processor and fewer HDMI inputs (three instead of four). The A1 series has a 60Hz refresh instead of the 120Hz found on the C1 and above, and without HDMI 2.1 it won’t accept 4K/120Hz signals or work with variable refresh rate. That means next-gen console owners might want to spend a bit more to get the C1. The A1 also lacks eARC and Auto Low Latency mode (a.k.a. Auto Game mode). 

LG confirmed to CNET that despite being a 60Hz TV the A1 will still offer a setting to enable motion smoothing, a.k.a. the Soap Opera Effect, if users want it (and more importantly, they can disable it too). It’s also said to be just as bright as the C1, and aside from the differences noted above, should still offer excellent image quality.

LG confirmed that another series, the B1, will also be available for sale later this year through LG’s website, but didn’t provide any additional details.

LG 2021 OLED features

Series Sizes (inches) Resolution EVO panel Processor Refresh rate HDMI version Next-Gen TV tuner
A1 77, 65, 55, 48 4K No A7 Gen 4 60Hz 2.0 No
C1 83, 77, 65, 55, 48 4K No A9 Gen 4 120Hz 2.1 No
G1 77, 65, 55 4K Yes A9 Gen 4 120Hz 2.1 Yes
ZX (2020 holdover) 88, 77 8K No A9 Gen 3 8K 120Hz 2.1 Yes

C1 series: As with 2020, LG’s “C” series of OLED TVs is the baseline, with the most sizes and the company’s latest 4K processor. New for 2021 it’s adding a new size, 83 inches, to keep up with the influx of 85-inch LCD TVs from competitors. Otherwise it’s very similar to the 2020 CX, although LG has upgraded its A9 processor again to the fourth generation, adding scene detection and upgrading object enhancement. I expect any image quality improvement over the CX to be minimal, but we’ll have to wait for reviews to be sure.

G1 series: The G stands for Gallery, a reference to the slim, wall-hugging design first introduced last year, but the biggest upgrade is Evo. The only way to get LG’s new, brighter panel is to buy its G1 series — none of the other LG OLEDs have it. The construction of the OLED pixel itself is different, with new materials for red and blue and a new green layer too, all of which have narrower wavelengths compared to the pixels used on other OLED TVs. Benefits include improved brightness and color, according to LG.  How much brighter the company wouldn’t specify. The G1 and ZX are also the only models with built-in Next-Gen (ATSC 3.0) tuners.

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LG

ZX series: A holdover from 2020,the ZX is only OLED you can buy with 8K resolution. I still consider 8K TVs a waste of money, and 8K OLED TVs even more so, but if you’re wealthy, it’s the next best thing to MicroLED. FYI the 88-inch version costs $30,000. LG mentioned a 2021 version at CES, called the Z1, but now it says the ZX “will be available throughout 2021.”

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The C1 series is LG’s mainstream 2021 OLED.

LG

Aside from the 83-inch size, the Evo panel and updated processing LG also added a few new tricks to its 2021 OLEDs.

Game Optimizer: The CX was my pick as the overall best TV for gaming and LG (in the C1 models and up) will continue to support next-gen gaming features like Nvidia G-Sync, AMD FreeSync, VRR and 4K/120Hz input (on all four HDMI ports), as well as adding a new Game Optimizer feature. It’s designed to automatically recognize and classify games by genre, for example First-Person Shooter, Strategy or Role-Playing, and adjust contrast, clarity and shadow detail accordingly — for example making shadows brighter in FPS games to reveal hidden enemies. The TVs also have a single screen that gathers all game-related data and settings, including genre settings, VRR status, blue light reduction and input lag delay, in one place. 

Cloud gaming built-in: New for 2021, LG’s TVs will work with Google Stadia, the search giant’s game streaming platform. In theory all you’d need to play is one of the platform’s controllers and a fast internet connection. LG’s Stadia-equipped TVs will also be able to stream in 4K HDR to Stadia Pro subscribers. Separately, LG TVs are adding a built-in app for the Twitch game streaming service.

New remote and home screen: LG tweaked the home page of its smart TV system to bolster personalized recommendations and access apps more quickly. It also has a newly designed remote that includes separate buttons for all three voice assistants built into the TV — Google AssistantAmazon Alexa and LG’s ThinQ system — as well as additional hotkeys for more streaming services.

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LG’s new Gallery stand in action.

LG

Gallery stand: A new option for the 55- and 65-inch sizes in the G1, C1 and A1 series is a modern-looking freestanding stand. Its slim pole-mount doesn’t allow any room for components and its tripod of legs precludes placement too close to a wall. Instead it creates a sleek, minimalist look more at home toward the middle of a suitably modernist room.

We look forward to reviewing LG’s new OLED TVs soon.

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