LG OLED65G1 4K OLED TV review

hcchighreccomendLG’s decision to call the new higher-brightness panels in its 2021 G1 OLED TVs ‘Evo’ seems a bit odd. LG’s regular annual OLED updates feel like evolutions; using a radically different panel design for the first time in years, like the G1 series does – with a new green layer for improved colour purity, and new high-efficiency materials to deliver a tangible brightness boost without using more power – feels more like a potential revolution.

On the OLED65G1, the Evo panel is housed in a ‘Gallery’ design similar to 2020’s GX range. This means it has a slim (2cm or so), flat profile specifically designed for wall hanging. There’s even a recess in the rear for the supplied super-slender wall mount to slot into, so that the TV’s back panel fits snugly against your wall. You can place the G1 on desktop feet or LG's tripod 'Gallery Stand', but these are optional extras.

LG OLED65G1 connections and features
The forward thinking when it comes to next-gen connections that LG started with its 2019 C9 OLED TVs continues with the OLED65G1. All four HDMIs can handle everything today’s new gaming sources can throw at them, such as 4K HDR at 120Hz refresh rates, Variable Refresh Rates (in AMD FreeSync, Nvidia GSync and HDMI 2.1 formats) and the Automatic Low Latency Mode (ALLM) that allows the TV to switch in and out of Game mode depending on source.

This year LG bolsters its gaming credentials with a new Game Optimiser. This introduces picture presets for different game genres, an AI Sound mode that tweaks the TV’s audio profile to optimise it for different game scenarios, and some options for fine-tuning the brightest and darkest image areas. One of these latter options can be used for combating the tendency LG OLED TVs have had for exhibiting raised black levels when gaming in VRR.

Powering that Evo panel is a new ‘Generation 4’ update to LG’s Alpha 9 processor. This, we're told, optimises the picture to the new panel’s capabilities, as well as introducing improvements to LG’s AI Picture Pro optimisation system. There’s now scene detection, where the processing looks out for cityscape, landscape and night-time content and tweaks the image accordingly, plus new options for spotting specific objects within the pictures and treating those individually.

This upgraded AI Picture Pro system really is outstanding – and much better than any previous iteration. It successfully enhances almost every aspect of picture quality, from sharpness and contrast to colour and noise, but delivers these enhancements without throwing up ‘accidental’ processing glitches.

Another new element of the Alpha 9 processor is a Natural motion default setting that does a good job of smoothing motion out for judder haters. More useful for most HCC readers, though, is the LG's Cinematic Movement option, which arguably trumps even Sony’s legendary motion processing for the way it gently massages judder without leaving films looking icy.

LG OLED65G1 picture performance
When it comes to identifying the talents introduced by the Evo panel, The Greatest Showman and Pan on 4K Blu-ray prove particularly useful. During the Pan sequence where Peter first arrives in Neverland on a flying boat, the skies enjoy a marked lift in overall brightness across the screen compared with last year’s CX/GX models. There’s also a touch more subtle shading detail in the glaring white clouds of this sequence, and the sunlight reflections on the watery ‘spheres’ the boat flies by.

Any scenes in The Greatest Showman that use spotlights, meanwhile, such as the opening performance, reveal noticeably more intensity in the light sources.

The difference the Evo panel makes is not of the ‘blow your eyelids back’ variety. But it’s there, and it gives HDR material more impact. And the new full-screen/peak brightness lifts are accompanied by the same gorgeously deep OLED black levels we’ve long cherished. The technology's pixel-level light control means these blacks are free from the haloing problems associated with locally dimmed LCD TVs. Furthermore, tiny bright highlights look consistently piercing, rather than losing substantial brightness as often happens with LCD displays.

Trying to put some numbers on the brightness improvements, I got just under 900 nits in the G1's brightest Vivid mode when measuring a white HDR window covering 10 per cent of the screen, and north of 750 nits using the more accurate (to content) Cinema and Filmmaker modes. These figures are improvements of between 12 and 20 per cent on the equivalent figures of last year’s CX/GX TVs.

Arguably, the Evo panel’s improvements are at their most noticeable while playing HDR games such as Call Of Duty: Cold War or Outriders. In fact, gaming on the OLED65G1 is a glorious experience from start to finish – not least because it can reduce input lag at 60Hz to as low as 9.4ms.

Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that it doesn’t deliver quite as big a brightness leap as we’d been dreaming of, it’s hard to find fault with LG’s 2021 trailblazer. But I’m paid to try, so here goes.

First, there’s some flickering in dark game scenes when using VRR. here's also a slightly purplish feel to white tones when you’re watching from a severe angle (although the OLED65G1’s viewing angles are still outstanding). I also noted that all of the set’s Dolby Vision presets bar the Vivid one can, unexpectedly, cause some shadow details to disappear into darkness.

These are fleeting niggles. The revamped WebOS smart system introduced by the OLED65G1 is a more regular one. This replaces the launcher bar of last year with a new fullscreen home menu that makes some strange choices in terms of how it divides up its real estate, and it’s a shame you can’t delete or re-order the shelves to suit your preference. Some choices in the revamped picture setup menus are a bit confusing, too.

Perhaps because of its svelte form, the OLED65G1’s speaker system struggles to decode Dolby Atmos convincingly. Powerful Atmos moments in Pan sound swallowed and muted rather than opening up as they should. LG’s AI Sound Pro mode, with 5.1.2 upconversion support, typically sounds much more immersive – but is itself undermined by some pretty aggressive buzzing interference and occasional drop-outs whenever heavy bass kicks in. You'll want to add your own sound system.

LG OLED65G1 verdict
The G1 commands a price premium over LG's other OLEDs, most notably the C1 Series, which sells for £500 less. This is partly due to the G1's Evo panel, and partly its Gallery design. The latter might be of no interest to you, and it's also debatable whether the Evo brightness boost warrants that much extra cash. That said, this is a fine TV with an imperious picture performance.

LG OLED65G1, £2,200

HCC Verdict: 5/5

4K: Yes. 3,840 x 2,160
HDR: Yes. Dolby Vision; HDR10; HLG
TUNER: Yes. Freeview HD; generic satellite
CONNECTIONS: 4 x HDMI inputs; 3 x USBs; optical digital audio out; Ethernet; headphone
SOUND (CLAIMED):60W (4.2 speaker config)
4K/120 PLAYBACK: Yes
DIMENSIONS (OFF STAND): 1,446(w) x 830(h) x 19.9(d)mm

FEATURES: New Evo OLED panel; Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; Alpha 9 Generation 4 processing engine; WebOS 6.0 smart system; Game Optimiser dashboard; AMD FreeSync, Nvidia GSync and HDMI 2.1 VRR support; ALLM; Filmmaker Mode; Dolby Vision IQ; AI Picture Pro; OLED Motion Pro