underscored lg Cx 55 review
CNN  — 

We recently took a look at Sony’s A8H OLED, a new model with flagship features at a slightly lower price point for OLEDs. Now it’s time to take a look at a direct competitor, the LG CX. It’s available in more sizes (48, 55, 65 and a massive 77 inches) and is slightly more affordable.

Affordability is all in the eye of the beholder, though, as OLEDs, as a whole, are on the higher end. You’re looking at a minimum of $1,500 for the 48-inch CX.

The 55-inch version of the LG CX, which we’ve tested for a week, has all the necessary tropes of an OLED, starting with the design.

The panel is ridiculously thin, even thinner than the Sony A8H, and while installing the stand, you can feel a slight flex in the panel. That’s normal for OLEDs, though. The picture quality is quite impressive with bright colors and a crazy amount of contrast.

Let’s dive into our full thoughts.

A ridiculously thin design that focuses on the screen

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The most striking thing about the LG CX is the thickness of the panel, which is evident from when you slide it out of the box. The panel is just 4 millimeters (0.16 inches) thick, which is crazy. It’s briefly thicker on the back from a small area that sticks out to house the processor and other needed hardware.

LG has also opted for a center metal stand on the CX 55, which we prefer to the left and right stands we’ve seen on other models. It’s likely a placebo effect, but it makes us feel as if the CX is more sturdy.

It took more effort to install the stand than the one on the A8H (and a Phillips screwdriver). As mentioned, don’t worry about the display slightly flexing when you screw in the stand. We didn’t experience any issues.

The overall design focuses on the screen.

There aren’t any bezels in that the screen is edge-to-edge against the frame. The only branding on the CX 55 is on the bottom right corner of the stand, and it’s just a simple “LG OLED” against the grayish-silver stand.

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On the flip side, you’ll find the power plug, four HDMI ports (all of which meet the 2.0 standard; one of which is eARC), an Ethernet jack, two USB-A ports, a headphone out, and an optical. You’ll find plenty of IO spots on the CX 55.

For a remote, you get the Magic Wand, which is kind of like a normal TV remote with a curved backside. And like the Wii Remote, you’ll be able to control the pointer on the screen by just waving the remote, which is fun, and quite frankly, addicting.

It’s a unique take on a TV remote and, dare we say, makes it fun to type passwords.

How’s the picture quality?

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As an OLED, the LG CX 55 is up to snuff, to say the least.

OLED TVs, as a whole, are emissive as the pixels individually light up to create an image. It means you can have a solar burst on one side with the black of space next to it. You won’t have the sunburst-like effects from the brightness that you might get on an LED, LCD or QLED. Those panel standards are transmissive via a backlighting panel that goes through filters containing pixels to create the visuals.

OLEDs have a different technology that shows when comparing one with an LED displaying the same content. We even noticed differences between the LG CX and the Sony A8H in our testing.

As a whole, LG’s CX 55 still stands tall as an immersive and exciting TV. With 2008’s “Iron Man,” you get pulled into Tony Stark’s flights over California and around the world. There’s a vibrancy to his suit when the red sections gleam in the light, not to mention the subtle twist of the gold trim. And, of course, the beams and fumes from his jets explode with brightness and color, especially during night scenes. The hovering and motion is next level.

We also appreciated the OLED display when we screened “Hamilton.” The musical features bold, colorful lighting during pivotal scenes, like when Hercules Mulligan is introduced. The intense overhead light bounces off him and other characters while creating a sharp contrast with the darker background. And the brilliant scenes involving King George III always show his especially colorful costume and sparkling jewels.

On the upscaling front, we give the big plus to Sony’s A8H with its X1 Ultimate Processor. Yes, the LG CX is powered by an α9 Gen3 AI Processor 4K, but it doesn’t increase the sharpness and level of details as we would have liked. That results in fuzziness with older content, as well as overcompensation on color vibrancy at times.

This isn’t a huge issue for HD and 4K content, though. LG does a great job of keeping sharpness and details intact.

We noticed that vibrancy goes higher on the CX as well. During “Captain Marvel,” there’s a certain shine to her red and blue suit that makes it pop more. It’s not exactly easy to distinguish the animation from the live-action aspects, but it doesn’t look as realistic when compared with Sony’s A8H.

In that case, the colors look more true to life, which goes for most content we watched on both the CX 55 and A8H.

LG aims to match the normal picture mode of the A8H, with its new Filmmaker Mode. This tones down highlights throughout and delivers a more dry experience, to a degree.

Colors aren’t as saturated and details don’t get as distorted. Overall, it feels like a mode that strives for accuracy rather than boosting existing qualities beyond their original intentions. We found ourselves sticking with Filmmaker, Cinema and Standard for the most enjoyable experiences.

It’s a close call between the LG CX and Sony A8H. We prefer the more accurate and realistic view on the A8H, but like the CX for its range of highlights and brightness. It gets noticeably brighter, which can be helpful for scenes with many more highlights. Both give new light to darker scenes, thanks to the OLED panel.

One final note: LG’s CX line is the first to feature Dolby Vision IQ, so for eligible content that supports Dolby Vision, not only will the TV calibrate itself using the metadata, but with Dolby Vision IQ, it will also read the room through ambient light sensors to better present the content. It made a noticeable difference in “Hamilton,” so we’re excited to see how this performs with future releases.

Smarts and sound

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As expected, the CX runs LG’s custom smart interface, webOS.

Yes, the classic software that originally ran on the HP TouchPad has a second life on LG smart TVs. It’s a decent experience that’s on par with Sony’s Android TV interface. Roku TV and Samsung Tizen still remain high at the top of the list for us.

Clicking the home button on the Magic Wand remote brings up a bottom bar that provides access to the store for downloading apps and to see your most frequently used ones. All the core ones, such as Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, Hulu, Sling and YouTube are here. There’s quick navigation through this interface and the individual apps, which is an excellent experience.

LG CX 55 also supports Google Cast and AirPlay 2, which let you easily stream content from your phone, tablet or computer. Just make sure you’re on the same Wi-Fi network.

We highly recommend purchasing or connecting a soundbar or home theater system to any TV. And that’s especially true with an OLED. As TVs become thinner, there’s simply less space for speakers, and sound quality suffers.

And if you haven’t invested in a sound system, don’t fret the setup — LG makes it easy to connect Bluetooth speakers. It’s a neat feature, one that we hope other TV makers will adopt. The sound is all right, but not nearly as room-filling as, say, a soundbar. Plus, there’s barely any bass.

Bottom line

By all accounts, the LG CX is a great series of OLEDs, and at $1,699 (originally $1,799), the 55-inch is slightly cheaper than the A8H. OLEDs have been coming down in price, a trend we expect to continue in 2020. Vizio is already promising its first line of OLEDs with a $1,300 starting price.

For now, LG and Sony are neck and neck with OLEDs, but we still put the A8H on top for better color accuracy. The CX is an excellent option and can get brighter, with a unique remote and a crazy thin panel. Plus, it comes in more sizes.

But it’s also worth seeing if you can buy the previous-gen LG OLED — the B9 — for less. It’s also an OLED and will give you an experience that’s nearly best in class.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.