Review: LG OLED65C7P (C7)

This is a review of the LG OLED65C7P, which is the 65-inch class model from the C7 series. Although the OLED65C7P doesn’t have some of the premium design features and enhanced audio of the higher end models in this year’s LG OLED line-up, it uses the same OLED panel, so no compromises are made with the picture quality when you compare it with the flagship models.

It needs to be stressed that the OLED65C7P uses a flat screen panel unlike its predecessor: the OLED65C6P which had a curved screen. The stand is also different. In case of the OLED65C7P, the stand is inclined, which provides a certain elevation, thus making the pedestal used with the OLED65C6P redundant. There is slightly less clearance beneath the screen, though. By omitting the transparent pedestal, the OLED65C7P has a diminished ability to give the impression that the screen is floating mid-air. But this is not relevant in case of mounting your TV on a wall. Speaking of which, the OLED65C6P required a 400×200 VESA compatible wall mount. The OLED65C7P needs a 300×200 VESA compatible wall mount.

There is also a difference in the speaker configuration. The 2.2 channel configuration indicates the presence of two sub-woofers on the OLED65C7P in addition to two regular speakers for the mid-range and high-frequency sounds. The OLED65C6P had a 4.0 channel speakers, meaning there was no sub-woofer. Therefore, the OLED65C7P has an advantage in the low-frequency sound range. In other words, the bass is deeper on the new model. Although the total audio power output is 40 Watts on both TVs, the OLED65C7P allocates 20 Watts to its sub-woofers. Another improvement in terms of audio for the new model is the Dolby Atmos decoder, which was missing from the OLED65C6P. You can listen soundtracks in this object-based audio format through the TV speakers, or pass-through the bitstream to a compatible receiver via HDMI Audio Return Channel.

The OLED65C6P had 3 HDMI inputs, all of which were side-facing. In contrast, there are 4 HDMI inputs on the OLED65C7P. HDMI IN 1-3 are side-facing whereas HDMI IN 4 is rear-facing. HDCP 2.2 is supported on all HDMI inputs for both models. All 3 USB ports were side-facing on the OLED65C6P. However, only the USB IN 1 (i.e. the USB 3.0 port) is side-facing on the OLED65C7P. The remaining two, which are USB 2.0, are rear-facing. Other connections that can be found on both models include: an Ethernet port, a RF input (Antenna/Cable), a composite input, a component input (shared with composite), a Digital Optical Audio Output, a RS232C (Mini Jack). They both have built-in Wi-Fi. The OLED65C7P omits the passive 3D functionality that was present on the OLED65C6P, so you won’t be able to watch any 3D content on it.

The picture quality with SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) content is mostly identical. That being said, the peak brightness is up to 25% higher on the OLED65C7P vs OLED65C6P, according to LG. Therefore, the OLED65C7P has a distinct advantage in some situations that involve displaying content consisting predominantly of scenes with mid-to-high average picture level (e.g. hockey, skiing, etc). The last year’s OLED65C6P wasn’t particularly dim either since it was able to surpass 100cd/m2 (which is what SDR content is typically mastered to) on a full-field white (100% window size). The OLED65C7P provides more headroom before the Auto Brightness Limiter starts to operate (i.e. to reduce the brightness based on the average picture level), which makes it slightly more suitable for high ambient light environments in comparison to the OLED65C6P.

Where the difference between the two models is more obvious is HDR (High Dynamic Range) content. The extra brightness on the OLED65C7P doesn’t make the image brighter overall, but is instead reserved to be used in specular highlights. This way, more highlight detail can be resolved. By clearly outlining the brightest objects, instead of presenting them as diffuse light, the sense of dimensionality can also be improved. This is especially important with HDR10 content that is mastered to 4,000cd/m2 because the OLED65C6P clipped specular highlights instead of tone-mapping them to its peak brightness capability. Although the Perceptual Quantizer (PQ) EOTF (Eletro-Optical Transfer Function) tracking was improved with a firmware update on the last year’s model, the OLED65C7P can resolve highlight detail up to approximately 90% stimulus level, which corresponds to 4,000cd/m2 in HDR10 signal.

The OLED65C7P still needs to perform tone-mapping with the aforementioned content due to its peak brightness in small specular highlights (5% window size) reaching only up to 1,000cd/m2, even when in the brightest HDR mode. Still, the up to 25% brightness increase over the OLED65C6P translates to a wider color volume, which is particularly noticeable in specular highlights where the OLED65C7P can show more saturated colors than the OLED65C6P. Furthermore, the DCI-P3 color space coverage for the mid-tones, which take up most luminosity levels, is slightly wider on the OLED65C7P vs OLED65C6P, but the difference in terms of color saturation in this case is less pronounced than it’s in the highlights.

The OLED65C7P is able to more efficiently utilize its luminance range with HDR10 content thanks to being equipped with Active HDR processing, which the OLED65C6P didn’t have. This technique analyzes HDR10 content and generates dynamic metadata. Which in turn makes a scene-by-scene optimization possible due to the fact that the OLED65C7P no longer has to compress the dynamic range based on the MaxCLL (maximum content light level) that the HDR10 static metadata defines for the entire content. Scenes without highlights benefit the most from this since brighter mid-tones no longer have to be compressed.

The Dolby Vision format of HDR content has an inherent advantage over HDR10 due to the dynamic metadata being generated during post-production of the content, instead of automatically by the active HDR processing on LG. Dolby Vision is thus able to convey the director’s intended look of the content more faithfully, especially when the display has more limited dynamic range. The HDR10 and Dolby Vision are supported by both the OLED65C7P and OLED65C6P. The new model, however, also supports HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), which is a HDR standard for TV broadcasts. The OLED65C7P is also ready to support Advanced HDR by technicolor via a future firmware update.

The non-linear black level adjustment control on the OLED65C7P allows you to set the point where the TV transitions from black to dark gray more accurately. In contrast, the OLED65C6P used full-step increments, which made it more prone to either crushing some shadow detail, or raising the black level, depending on your settings. The near-black gradation is smoother on the OLED65C7P vs OLED65C6P due to the processing on the former being carried out at a higher bit depth, hence the ability to avoid quantization errors (and the resulting contouring artifacts). The OLED65C6P had a Clear Panel Noise option, which is called Pixel Refresher on the OLED65C7P. Notwithstanding the name change, the functionality it provides is the same: it allows you to start a more than an hour long compensation cycle that corrects voltage irregularities in different areas of the panel. This is done to remove any image retention, but you normally don’t have to manually start this cycle because both TVs automatically correct these irregularities periodically, albeit in shorter cycles.

The WebOS 3.0 Smart TV system, which was used on the OLED65C6P, is updated to WebOS 3.5 on the OLED65C7P. Magic Link is one of the new features. It intends to provide additional information about the actors and characters in the program, if such info is present, as well as to suggest related content (based on what you’re currently watching). The OLED65C7P adds a recording functionality to the OLED65C6P’s Magic Zoom feature. That being said, an external drive is required since the recordings cannot be stored on the TV. Provided you have an external flash or hard drive, the OLED65C7P allows you not only to zoom in on content that is stored on this drive, but also save the recording to the same external drive. The 1 to 9 number buttons on the OLED65C7P’s magic remote can be used as shortcuts, meaning you can press and hold a single button to launch an app you have assigned to this button. The WebOS 3.5 supports playback of 360-degree content stored on an external drive. You can use the magic Remote to navigate the scene in different directions, in addition to zooming in and out with the scroll wheel.

Check availability and pricing on Amazon.com for the OLED65C7P and OLED65C6P (affiliate links).

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