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- LG’s CX is our top OLED TV pick thanks to its gorgeous display and forward-looking features.
- The 48-inch model makes the most of OLED tech and can serve as a living room TV or gaming monitor.
- A new 2021 C1 OLED is set for release this year, but we think the CX will remain a better value.
The 48-inch review unit we received is the smallest OLED TV on the market, with prices starting at $1,500 and dipping to $1,200 during sales. LG’s CX is also available in 55-, 65-, and 77-inch models, with base retail pricing going up to $5,000 ($3,500 on sale) for the largest size.
While the LG CX OLED is significantly more expensive than many 4K LED TVs of the same size, the difference in picture quality is immediately noticeable due to the OLED panel’s self-illuminating pixels. Because each pixel on an OLED display can be lit individually, black portions of the screen will remain pitch black during dark scenes, avoiding the cloudy grey “halo” effect that occurs on a back-lit LED TV. The infinite contrast ratio also helps enhance high dynamic range (HDR) formats like HDR10 and Dolby Vision, which have become the new standard for streaming shows and video games.
Along with being our top rated OLED TV, the LG CX has also built a reputation as an impressive gaming monitor. LG’s CX boasts a native 120Hz refresh rate and HDMI 2.1 ports, allowing PCs and next-gen consoles, like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, to run at a faster frame rate. This leads to smoother looking gameplay when compared to older TV models that are limited to 60Hz. Of course, with sizes starting at 48 inches, the LG CX demands much more space than a typical monitor.
After spending more than two months using the LG CX for everyday viewing, I can feel confident saying that this OLED TV is the best pick for most households, whether you’re looking for a family TV, a home theater display, or a personal gaming setup. So long as you can afford the premium price tag, the LG CX OLED will leave you thoroughly impressed.
LG CX OLED TV specifications
|LG 48-nch CX OLED 4K TV||Specifications|
|Screen||48-inch OLED panel|
|Dimensions with stand||42.2 x 25.6 x 9.9 inches|
|Weight with stand||41.7 pounds (32.8 pounds without stand)|
|Resolution||4K Ultra HD 3,840 x 2,160|
|Refresh rate||120Hz with support for VRR, Nvidia G-sync, and AMD FreeSync|
|HDR Formats||HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, HGiG|
|Ports||4x HDMI 2.1 ports, 3x USB 2.0 ports, 1x AV input|
|Audio||2.2ch speakers, 40W with 20W woofer|
|Connectivity||Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay2, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Smart TV platform||LG webOS|
|Remote||LG magic remote with voice controls|
|Digital Assistants||Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatible|
Setup and design
While the 48-inch LG CX is small enough for one person to carry, you’ll definitely want a second set of hands to gently unpack the 33-pound screen and get it mounted on the stand’s wide base. The base is easily secured with the included screws, or you can opt for a VESA wall mount.
The razor thin bezel around the outside of the OLED screen gives the LG CX a distinct look that’s more comparable to a sleek smartphone display than a boxed in TV screen. This helps the OLED screen’s striking blacks stick out even more when watching letterbox films, since the black bars create a distinct border pushing against the edges of the screen.
Though slim, the width of the base gives the LG CX a sturdier foundation than some of LG’s cheaper LED models, which use small plastic feet on the left and right of the screen. The rear of the LG CX base also contains a cable management compartment, making it easier to hide whatever wires you need to run to the TV.
Most of the LG CX’s inputs are accessible from the left of the TV, set a few inches behind the display. That includes three HDMI ports and two USB ports; while the remaining ports are located in the TV’s rear. A single button located under the screen provides power and a quick menu of on-screen controls.
LG has been manufacturing industry-leading OLED displays for several years, and the LG CX has relatively flawless image quality. Along with a top-notch display, the LG CX has the latest hardware to maximize quality from 4K devices and licensed technology, like Dolby Vision and Nvidia G-Sync, to further enhance picture performance.
The TV has four HDMI 2.1 ports, which can transfer data at a much higher rate than the more commonly used HDMI 2.0 ports. This helps 4K streaming devices display the highest possible picture quality, and allows elevated refresh rates with video game consoles and PCs.
LG’s CX OLED display requires little to no calibration once setup, though that might depend on your taste. The standard picture mode is slightly brightened and features some post-processing, as is common with most consumer TVs, but the cinema mode will remove those effects for a neutral picture that should match the source more closely. LG’s CX will detect when HDR content is being displayed and switch to HDR specific presets, though you’ll still find the crucial standard, cinema, and game modes.
The peak brightness of the 48-inch LG CX tops out at about 600 nits, while the larger models can reach up to 700, according to CNET. That brightness level is actually lower than some LED TVs, but the OLED display’s infinite blacks provide greater contrast and a more satisfying experience when viewing in HDR videos as a result.
I used films like “The Lord of the Rings” and the notoriously dark “The Long Night” episode of “Game of Thrones” to test the LG CX’s contrast and overall picture quality, with and without HDR. The results are wildly impressive on both fronts – shadowy scenes that were difficult to parse on my older LG LED TV can be seen in fine detail, but the sharp lighting keeps dark caverns and castles from looking washed out. Similarly, bright scenes retain their fine details without extra portions of the screen taking on a glow from an LED backlight.
The LG CX does a commendable job of upscaling lower resolution signals too, smoothing out the inconsistent picture quality coming from my 1080i cable box and the jagged edges of my 480p Nintendo Wii at 60Hz.
When using a PlayStation or Xbox console the TV will automatically switch to “Instant Game Response” mode, which disables most post-processing, maximizes brightness, and reduces input delay so your controls are as responsive as possible. If you primarily use the LG CX for gaming, you’ll want to activate HGiG for your console’s HDMI port to get the most accurate HDR picture quality.
I used fast-paced, visually intense video games like “Tetris Effect” and “Dragon Ball FighterZ” to help me test the CX for issues like artifacting and ghosting, but the screen remained amazingly responsive whether I was playing at 60Hz on Wii and Switch, or 120 Hz with my PC and PS5.
The LG CX is amazingly responsive for a TV, registering similar input delay to many high-end gaming monitors, and at a higher native resolution.
Many of the newest features supported by the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, like variable refresh rate and gaming at 120 frames per second, are only available with HDMI 2.1 compatible TVs like the LG CX.
For example, the PS5’s RGB color display requires too much bandwidth to use at 4K resolution with an HDMI 2.0 port, so it defaults to YUV422, a slightly degraded format, instead. Similarly, playing at 4K resolution and 120Hz refresh rate requires an HDMI 2.1 port, or you’ll be limited to 1440p and 120Hz on HDMI 2.0.
While a few TVs have adopted a single HDMI 2.1 port, the LG CX has four, so you can have multiple high bandwidth 4K devices.
The LG CX also has access to variable refresh rate, and licensed technology from the leading computer graphics hardware companies, Nvidia and AMD. Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync help the display’s refresh rate match the speed of a video game as it’s being played. This helps alleviate issues like screen tearing and smooths animation, and it’s especially helpful for PC gamers.
I was able to set up my RTX 2060 PC with the LG CX using G-Sync and HDR with no problems. Both my Xbox Series S and Xbox One X were able to take advantage of the AMD FreeSync compatibility to activate variable refresh rate.
Smart TV features
LG’s webOS smart TV service is one of the best in the business, making features like streaming apps, screen sharing, and voice control easily accessible. The LG CX’s a9 processor makes navigating the interface quick and simple too, rarely showing any stutter between tasks when compared to cheaper webOS TVs.
The home screen and options interface allow for customization, so you can order your most used menu items and apps, remove the ones you don’t need, and rename all of your inputs. WebOS also accessed my local TV listings during setup, immediately providing much faster navigation and schedule information than my set-top cable box.
WebOS supports most popular streaming apps, including Netflix, YouTube, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Hulu, Peacock, Apple TV Plus, and even music apps like Spotify and Pandora. Apps that support 4K HDR and Dolby Vision should use those formats automatically when downloaded from LG’s content store. With that said, some features won’t always work, like Dolby Atmos through Disney Plus, since companies sometimes limit support depending on the platform being used.
HBO Max is noticeably missing from webOS, though you can use another mobile device to cast the HBO Max app to the LG CX for screen sharing. The CX supports both Android casting and Apple’s AirPlay 2, so most mobile devices can screen share with the TV. You can use a USB drive to sideload your saved movies, music, and photos too, or stream them directly from a shared media folder on another PC in your network.
There’s a large selection of games and other entertainment apps to choose from in the LG content store, though few of the offerings seem worth the time. The CX also has access to LG Channels, a set of more than 100 free streaming “IP channels.” These are channels dedicated to a certain subject rather than operating as traditional broadcast or cable TV stations, but it’s a free service that only requires an internet connection.
The CX is compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa for voice commands; webOS voice searches will be answered by Google Assistant. I found LG’s Alexa skill rather cumbersome due to the specific phrases needed and the speed required to process commands; it was often faster to just grab the remote, unless I was already well out of range of the TV.
The LG magic remote
To be honest I underestimated the impact the magic remote would have on my time with the LG CX, but the mouse-style control feels like a significant game changer thanks in large part to the TV’s quick processing.
LG’s Magic Remote Control brings a motion-controlled cursor, a scroll wheel, and voice control to the table, and is easily integrated with most set-top boxes and video game consoles thanks to webOS. The LG CX configured the magic remote to work seamlessly with my Amazon Fire Stick, PlayStation, and Xbox consoles with no setup required, though there is a universal remote setup process for more specific devices.
The remote’s voice control is easy to operate when prompted and generally accurate, whether it’s being used within specific apps or webOS.
Should you worry about burn-in on an OLED TV?
OLED display technology has been known to suffer from an issue called burn-in. Burn-in happens when a static image is left on the display for so long that the screen’s pixels begin to age at different rates. This can create a faint “ghost” image that remains on screen while viewing. With this issue in mind, OLED manufacturers have created TV features to prevent burn-in.
The LG CX has three features to address burn-in and image retention. You can use “clear panel noise” to reset the TV’s pixels to their original color; you can activate screen shift, which adjusts the pixels at regular intervals to prevent a static image from getting stuck; or you can use logo luminance adjustment, which will reduce the brightness of static logos, like sports scoreboards or news tickers.
Websites like Rtings have conducted long-term tests with OLED burn-in if you’re curious, and generally, while burn-in can occur, these tests show that most buyers won’t have to worry about it.
I haven’t noticed any image retention or burn-in issues after more than two months with the LG CX, whether using it as a TV or a PC monitor. I primarily used the LG CX for gaming on PC, but spending two full days using it as my primary work monitor didn’t produce any adverse effects either.
Should you buy it?
If you’re in the market for a new TV and can afford to spend more than $1,000, the LG CX OLED is a great choice. Beyond the best-in-class display, the OLED’s speedy processing and features should satisfy all of your entertainment demands for years to come.
The 48-inch model may be a bit small for some living rooms, so be sure to measure your usual viewing distance to select the optimal size; LG also offers 55-, 65-, and 77-inch models. In fact, the 55-inch model is cheaper than the 48-inch version right now, so you actually pay a premium for the added convenience of a more compact size.
LG’s CX is also ideal for gamers trying to make the most of next-gen hardware like the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Nvidia 3000 series graphics cards. It’s more expensive than most premium gaming monitors, but the OLED’s flawless support of HDR color and the increased refresh rates of HDMI 2.1 help the LG CX outperform just about every monitor on the market, and its smart TV features bring additional value.
What are your alternatives?
The 48-inch LG CX is one of the most affordable OLED TVs on the market, and also the smallest, so it’s got solid value for buyers who want a high-end TV under 50 inches. In fact, it’s the only OLED TV currently available at that screen size.
However, if you’re open to a larger 55-inch TV, you can consider the LG BX OLED, which has lower peak brightness than the CX and a smaller stand, but is around $200 cheaper.
Vizio’s 55-inch OLED is also a worthwhile contender for buyers on a budget. It’s $300 cheaper than the 48-inch LG CX, but our review found that it has some issues with glitches and HDMI 2.1 compatibility. Most of these issues have been corrected by a firmware update, however.
The Sony A8H OLED may have even better picture accuracy than the LG CX based on our reviewer’s experience, but fans of games and high quality HDR formats may be disappointed by its total lack of HDMI 2.1 ports.
It’s also worth noting that LG will be releasing its new C1 48-inch OLED later this year, but pricing hasn’t been announced. The 2021 model is the successor to the CX, and it offers improved processing. Outside of processing, however, the C1 TV’s specifications are nearly identical to the CX, so the CX remains our top recommendation.
The bottom line
LG’s CX OLED is an amazing TV that reflects the best in OLED display technology, user interface, and forward-looking hardware. The precise picture quality of the OLED screen and experience-enhancing features, like variable refresh rate, make the LG CX one of the best TVs and gaming monitors you can buy. The 48-inch version is a perfect starting point for people interested in picking up their first OLED screen.
If you’re looking for a larger screen there are a few more options to consider, but you certainly can’t go wrong picking up the LG CX in any size.
Pros: Infinite contrast ratio, four HDMI 2.1 ports, ideal features for gaming, Google Assistant and Alexa support, magic remote, 120Hz native refresh rate
Cons: Peak brightness is lower than LED competitors, no HBO Max app