LG’s new range of cheap(er) OLEDs were a surprise announcement, but they shouldn’t have been really. As manufacturing gets more efficient, costs come down – but cheaper production isn’t the only reason the A1 range costs less.
Only the 48-inch model is available for now and it costs £1,099. For comparison, LG’s only other 48-inch OLED, the OLED48CX6LB, cost £1,499 when it launched in 2020.
What’s more, that £1,099 price will tumble as 2021 turns into 2022, and it could end up costing as little as £700 to £800.
While still expensive compared with LCD TVs, it’s remarkably cheap for an OLED – partly because it’s lacking a few of the features of its more expensive siblings. But will a few missing features on the A1 range mark the end of LG’s consistently high quality OLEDs?
Take a look at our guide on how to buy the best TV for more on the difference between LCDs and OLEDS, plus our top TV picks
LG OLEDs compared: A1 vs B1 vs C1
LG’s A1s will be joined by two higher-end ranges – the B1 and C1 OLEDs. Prices for most of these TVs haven’t been confirmed yet, so we can’t make a direct price comparison between ranges, but we can examine how their specs compare.
|A1 OLED||B1 OLED||C1 OLED|
|Sizes available (inches)||48, 55, 65, 77||55, 66, 77||48, 55, 65, 77, 83|
|Panel||4K OLED||4K OLED||4K OLED|
|Processor||Alpha 7 Gen 4 processor||Alpha 7 Gen 4 processor||Alpha 9 Gen 4 processor|
|Dolby Vision IQ HDR||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|VRR, FreeSync, G-Sync||No||Yes||Yes|
If you’re only going to be watching TV and films, there’s not much to pick between the three models.
All three come with Dolby Vision IQ, which is an advanced HDR format that can adjust contrast to suit each scene. This helps prevent HDR content looking too dark or bright. It differs from traditional Dolby Vision by using the TV’s ambient light sensor to adjust the picture even further based on the brightness of your room.
HDMI eARC is another feature all three have in common. This is the same size and shape as standard HDMI ports, but it can transmit picture and sound to and from the TV through one wire, making it ideal for connecting sound bars. eARC supports higher quality audio and video signals than HDMI ARC.
The A1 lacks HDMI 2.1 though, but it’s not such a big issue. HDMI 2.1 supports resolutions up to 8K and 120Hz refresh rates, which the A1 can’t do anyway.
A1 may lack juice for gaming
If you’re a gamer, you may want to take a step up from the A1 range. The B1 and C1 will both be better for gaming because they can refresh the image on screen 120 times per second, while the A1 tops off at 60. Games consoles are the only things that really take advantage of these higher refresh rates.
The same goes for VRR (which stands for variable refresh rate), FreeSync and G-Sync. These features are video game-focused, too. They are designed to reduce the time it takes for the TV to respond to button presses on the controller, and minimise screen tearing – a distracting problem where two parts of the picture don’t line up properly.
All the OLEDs do, however, get ALLM (automatic low latency mode) which means the TV will switch to a gaming preset whenever you start using a games console.
If the idea of spending more than £1,000 on a TV makes you shudder, keep costs down with help from our best TV deals for March 2021
What a difference a processor makes
The eagle-eyed may have noticed another difference in the table above: the processor. LG’s OLED processors come in two flavours, the Alpha 9 and the Alpha 7. Both are essentially doing the same thing, but the Alpha 9 – which the top-of-range C1 OLEDs have – should do it that bit better.
The quality of the processor affects how well a TV delivers:
- Upscaling – boosting SD and HD picture to look 4K.
- Colour accuracy – creating a huge spectrum of vivid and lifelike colours.
- Noise reduction – noise is a general term for grain and banding. Grain looks like static on flat areas of colour and banding is where you can clearly see gradients of colour rather than a smooth blend.
- Depth enhancement – picking and accentuating objects in the foreground to make them sharper and more defined.
Although we haven’t yet tested any 2021 OLED TVs with the fourth generation versions of the A9 and A7, we do know how the the third generation versions got on.
A cheap OLED is still an OLED
And that counts for a lot. We test most of the OLEDs that get released every year, including those from Panasonic, Philips, Sony and even Hisense’s lone offering. While they aren’t all amazing TVs overall, some things are consistent.
OLEDs use millions of individual, light-emitting pixels, rather than the backlight typically used in LCD TVs, to create an image. Contrast is typically excellent because this gives the TV so much control over what parts of the screen are lit. Motion tends to be smooth, too, for the same reason.
There’s still plenty that a TV manufacturer could screw up by cutting corners to keep costs down, though. Colours could be unbalanced, HDR could be implemented poorly, and the sound may be terrible.
Still, the A1 range of TVs will likely be the cheapest OLEDs you can buy in 2021, and that will make them a popular option. We’ll be sending them to our lab as soon as we can, so look out for our full verdict.
Are the LG OLEDs we’ve already tested among the best TVs on offer today? Check our top five TVs for 2021