The 2022 C2 promises a handful of improvements, but the 2021 C1 costs hundreds less. We compared them side-by-side in our review.
It's transition time in the TV market, as new 2022 models are just starting to become available. Meanwhile "old" 2021 TVs are still on sale and will remain cheaper than their replacements for as long as supplies last -- which could be months. That brings up a dilemma for TV shoppers: Should you buy last year's TV now at a discount while you still can, or pay extra for the new version?
For the last year or so my favorite high-end TV for the money was the LG C1 OLED. I just reviewed the new version, predictably called the C2. As I said in the LG C2 OLED review, my advice for most TV shoppers now is to buy the C1 from 2021 instead. It's $500 to $1,000 less expensive, depending on what size you want, and any differences in picture quality, design or features are not worth the extra money.
Allow me to explain.
With picture quality as good as any TV I've ever tested -- including the C2 -- and a price that's steep but currently lower than ever, the LG C1 OLED TV remains my go-to pick for people who prioritize picture and are willing to pay for it. It beats any non-OLED TV I've reviewed, including the Samsung QN90A, with its perfect black levels, unbeatable contrast and superb off-angle viewing. It also has the best gaming features, making it the perfect companion to an Xbox Series X or S, PlayStation 5 or both.
The C2 is the first 2022 TV we've reviewed and it's superb, but right now the 2021 model is a better deal. We compared the C2 directly to last year's C1. In terms of picture quality the two were basically identical, despite the fact that LG touts the new "Evo" panel on the C2. The C2 adds carbon-fiber construction as well as tweaks to game mode and a new "always ready" feature, but we don't think those enhancements are worth the price difference.
The prices for the 65-inch size are listed at the top of this article, but LG sells the C1 and C2 series in multiple sizes. Here's how they stack up. Note that prices and saving are approximate as of mid-May 2022.
Not really. In our measurements the C2 was slightly brighter -- by an average of about seven percent, depending on picture mode -- but in side-by-side comparisons we really couldn't see the difference in real-world brightness or contrast. Color was basically the same between the two, and while LG touts improved picture processing on its 2022 models, we didn't see any evidence of the difference in our comparisons. The screen of the C1 seemed slightly more reflective than the C2, but the difference was minimal. From extreme off-angles we saw a very slight color shift toward blue and magenta on the C2 that wasn't visible on the C1, but it has no impact from normal viewing angles.
LG added a few new features to the 2022 version that aren't available on the C1, but we doubt most people will find them essential. The Game Optimizer mode has a new Sports setting as well as a "dark room" option, designed to reduce eyestrain. A new mode called "always ready" puts content on-screen even when the TV is turned "off." And the smart TV system now allows you to log in to different user profiles, which help customize recommendations.
Aside from that the two TVs' feature sets are basically the same. If you want more details on those extras, and why we don't think they're (cough) game changers, check out the C2 review.
Aside from price, the biggest difference between the two is that carbon-fiber construction on the C2. It allows for up to 47% lighter weight -- the 65-inch version I reviewed weighs just 37 pounds with its stand, compared to 72 pounds for the 65-inch C1, which is a substantial difference. If you prioritize having a really light TV for some reason, the C2 is about as light as it gets.
The C2 also has a new 42-inch size option that's not available on the C1. The smallest OLED screen yet, it could be an good option for small rooms or desktop gamers who want a (really big, nice) 4K "monitor." Bigger is better for TVs, however, and we'd bet most folks who have room for a 42-inch OLED can find the extra few inches to squeeze in a 48-incher too -- especially since it costs $400 less right now to get a 48-inch C1 compared to the 42-inch C2.
Spring is the time when current-year TV prices are at their highest. Over the coming months the C2's price will come down, and if previous years are any indication, the price should be best around Black Friday and into the 2022 holiday season. If you don't need a new TV now, it's worth waiting.
If you do need a new TV now, however, or you'd rather not wait, the LG C1 is still the best value in high-end TVs.