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LG OLEDB8P series review: LG's least-expensive OLED is the best high-end TV value

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The Good The LG B8 has spectacular image quality, second only to LG's more-expensive OLED TVs among models we've tested. It delivers perfect black levels, superb uniformity, wide viewing angles, accurate color and a great bright-room picture. Its striking design features a super-slim panel.

The Bad It can't get as bright as competing LCD TVs.

The Bottom Line LG's entry-level OLED TV doesn't compromise picture quality.

8.7 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 10
  • Performance 10
  • Value 6

For people who want the best picture they can afford, stretching the budget to get LG's B8 OLED is pretty tempting. It has image quality that's basically as good as any other OLED TV, for less. And that picture is still better than any non-OLED TV we've ever reviewed.

In mid-fall 2018, the B8 costs $1,700 for the 55-inch size and $2,600 for the 65 inches. Yes, that can seem like quite a stretch, but relief could be on the way soon. For the last couple of years LG has dropped its OLED TV prices for Black Friday in mid-November. This year I wouldn't be surprised if the 65-inch B8 got down to $2,100... or maybe even less.

If you've been eyeing a new OLED TV recently, maybe you're wondering about the C8, which costs slightly more and has a newer video processor than the B8. Lemme cut to the chase: in my side-by-side comparisons, that processor does help the image a tiny bit, making the C8 ever-so-slightly better than the B8 for image quality, but it's not worth the extra money in my opinion. Both TVs deserve a 10 in image quality, and the B8 is the superior value, so it gets the higher CNET rating overall.

If you're not familiar with OLED TVs, maybe you're wondering why the heck they cost so much more than LCD-based TVs. My favorite LCD so far, the TCL 6 series, costs less than half as much and has an excellent picture, while higher-end sets like the Vizio P series Quantum and Sony X900F are still hundreds less than the B8. The short answer is that if you want the best picture, OLED is worth it.

Deja vu design still feels futuristic

The B8 is a beautiful study in minimalism. There's less than a half-inch of black frame around the picture itself to the top and sides, a bit more below.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Seen in profile, the top portion is razor-thin, just a quarter-inch deep, but has the typical bulge at the bottom that juts out another 1.75 inches. That bulge houses the inputs, power supply, speakers and other depth-eating TV components.

I wrote those exact words in my review of the C7 OLED TV from 2017. That's because the B8, eighteen months older, looks exactly the same as that TV. The biggest difference between 2018's B8 and the C8 is in the design of their stands. The stand is narrower on the B8, with a sleek, angled look (just like the C7's). The stand of the C8, on the other hand, is curved slightly and extends almost the entire length of the panel.

Tastes differ, but I actually like the cheaper B8's stand better. If you're wall-mounting and ditch the stand, the B8 and C8 look exactly the same.

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The stand of the B8 (foreground) compared to the C8.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Motion remote, complete with Google

LG's Web OS menu system feels nice and snappy, but it's basically unchanged from last year. It still lacks the innovative extras and app-based setup of Samsung's 2018 Tizen system and falls well short of the app coverage of Roku TV or Sony's Android TV -- although it's much snappier than the latter. If you want more apps, your best bet is to get an external streamer, but it's worth mentioning that only one, the Apple TV 4K, can support Dolby Vision.

The remote is the same as the 2017 model's. I like using its motion control to whip around the screen, something that's particularly helpful when signing into apps or searching using an on-screen keyboard. The scroll wheel is also great for moving through apps, like those seemingly infinite thumbnail rows on Netflix and Amazon.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The B8 builds in Google Assistant, allowing you to speak into the clicker to search for TV shows and movies, control compatible smart-home devices, get the weather, order pizza and much more. You can also control some stuff on the TV using Google Home or Amazon Alexa smart speakers.

Features and connections

Key features

Display technology OLED
LED backlight N/A
Resolution 4K
HDR compatible HDR10 and Dolby Vision
Smart TV: Web OS
Remote: Motion

OLED's basic tech is closer to late, lamented plasma than to the LED LCD (QLED, quantum dot or otherwise) technology used in the vast majority of today's TVs. LCD relies on a backlight shining through a liquid crystal panel to create the picture, while each individual sub-pixel is responsible for creating illumination on OLED and plasma screens. That's why OLED and plasma are known as "emissive" and LED LCD are called "transmissive" displays -- and a big reason why OLED's picture quality is so good.

LG's 2018 OLED TVs have the same light output and color gamut capabilities as 2017 models, so the biggest picture quality difference is that the 2018 TVs get LG's new Alpha 9 processor. The exception is the B8 reviewed here; it's the only 2018 LG OLED to use LG's older processor instead. LG also added black frame insertion to all of its 2018 OLED TVs, including the B8. See the picture quality section below for more details.

Unlike Samsung, LG TVs like the C8 support both major current types of HDR video: Dolby Vision and HDR10. The set also supports HLG HDR as well as Technicolor and Philips' HDR format. But you should think of them as future-proofing features, as there's no content you can watch in those formats yet. A Technicolor-approved picture mode is also available.

New for 2018, LG's TVs are also compatible with HFR (high frame rate) video, although only through built-in streaming apps, not on external devices connected by HDMI. The presentation of higher frame rates in a handful of movies -- for example, The Hobbit and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk -- is controversial. Many viewers simply don't like the effect, which can give films a similar look to the much-maligned soap opera effect. That said, it might become more widely accepted in sports and gaming content. Again there's no HFR content available yet.

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In addition to its standard burn-in prevention measures, LG's added one called "Logo Luminance Adjustment." It's designed to automatically detect a static on-screen logo and, after two minutes, start decreasing its brightness over about a minute and a half, after which the logo should be 20 percent dimmer. Our tests of the feature found it does reduce logo brightness a bit, but we don't expect it to be a cure-all given the relatively mild percentage decrease.

The selection of connections is top-notch. Unlike many of Samsung's sets, this one actually has an analog video input for legacy (non-HDMI) devices, although it no longer supports analog component video.

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  • Four HDMI inputs with HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2
  • Three USB ports
  • One composite video input
  • Optical digital audio output
  • One RF (antenna) input
  • RS-232 port (minijack, for service only)
  • Ethernet (LAN) port

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