We go eyes-on with LG's new 2023 OLED TV lineup, including the brighter G3.
For years LG was the only OLED TV game in town, but now Samsung's QD-OLED TVs are in the mix too, and shoppers who want the best TV could be the ultimate winners. Last week Samsung, the largest TV maker in the world, announced pricing on its new 2023 OLED models, largely matching LG's prices. This marks the first time the two Korean rivals have similar pricing on the best high-end TV technology, giving TV buyers more choice and potentially more savings.
I haven't reviewed any 2023 OLED TVs yet, so I can't say which is the best. I briefly saw LG and Samsung's 2023 OLED TVs at CES in January when they were first announced, but last week marked the first time I was able to eyeball the two in person. It happened at LG's headquarters in New Jersey, where the company set up three 2022 OLED TVs -- the Samsung S90B, Sony A95K and LG G2 -- against the new LG G3.
The G3 indeed looked brighter than last year's G2. LG says it's up to 70% brighter than previous its OLED models, thanks to a new Micro Lens Array technology. Billions of tiny lenses inside the OLED panel help focus the light, reduce scatter and improve efficiency. LG didn't specify a number in nits, and noted that only the 55-, 65- and 77-inch G3s get MLA -- the 83-inch has the same brightness as last year.
LG demo'd a range of TV shows and movies and its OLED TVs looked mostly better than the competition based on what I saw. That's par for the course -- every manufacturer-hosted TV demo I've seen is designed to make that TV maker's sets look superior (Sony's recent demo is another example). I'll have to wait until I can compare the LG OLEDs to Samsung and Sony in CNET's TV lab, with my own test video and equipment, to issue a verdict.
OLED TVs offer better overall picture quality than other high-end TVs and, in my experience, are already plenty bright for most lighting environments. Every bit -- er, nit -- of brightness helps, however, especially in bright rooms and with HDR TV shows and movies. Perhaps the G3 will surpass the light output of competing QD-OLED models from Sony and Samsung, but I'd be surprised if it beats mini-LED sets like the Samsung QN90Band Hisense U8H.
Then there's the LG C3, which costs $400 to $700 less than the G3. It's largely unchanged in terms of picture quality from last year's C2. LG did tell me the C3 may look brighter in person, thanks to slightly higher average picture level, but it won't measure any brighter and I'll be surprised if I notice a big difference. LG will also release a B3 model that isn't as bright as the others.
LG didn't show me any of the other models it mentioned at CES. Pricing on the M3 series, an OLED TV that's wireless aside from the power cord, will be available later this year. And if you're holding your breath (and bank account) for a new 8K LG OLED TV this year, I'm sorry to disappoint. The company won't release the "Z3" model it announced at CES this year after all; instead it will continue to sell the Z2 that debuted last year (reminder: 8K isn't worth it).
None of the other improvements LG teased is what I would call major. The TVs have a new "α9 AI Processor Gen6." But in my past tests, better processing has been tough to discern. The company also gave the G3 a design that hugs the wall even closer than before, "leaving no visible gap" when wall-mounted. The company's smart TV system, which I don't like, has been tweaked to add better categorization, personalized recommendations and trending content.
LG also said its 2023 OLED TVs will be the first to be certified by the HDMI organization for Quick Media Switching VRR, which "can eliminate the momentary 'black screen' that sometimes occurs when switching between content played from different source devices connected via the TV's HDMI 2.1a compliant ports." This (again minor) feature is intended for video playback as opposed to gaming and requires a QMS-VRR source device.
For the last couple of years, LG's OLED TVs, specifically the "C" models, have delivered the best picture quality for the money among high-end TVs, and I expect the C3 to once again compete for that honor. That said, the LG C2 from 2022 continues to be my favorite, and none of the improvements so far seems significant enough for me to recommend waiting for a C3.