Hands on: LG G1 Gallery Series OLED TV review

What comes after OLED? LG is hyping ‘OLED evo’ as its next-generation display type, with the forthcoming LG G1 series offering a brighter, punchier picture care of increased luminance.

We got to see the flashy new 65-inch LG G1 OLED evo in person following its official CES 2021 debut, and it has all the telltale signs of beating our current best TV pick, the LG CX. In fact, it’s poised to edge out the CX’s brand new successor, the LG C1 OLED, too.

The LG G1 is the superior 4K TV among LG’s 2021 TV lineup, and while the specs and design aren’t too different from the C1, where it literally shines is in the brightness of the new OLED evo display. The panel includes an extra layer for refining wavelengths of light, according to LG, making it the company’s brightest picture yet.

Brightness is important for OLED TVs because while they exhibit superb black levels, they’re not the best in brightly lit rooms. It’s one of the few areas where Samsung’s QLED TVs have a slight edge. LG’s OLED evo display – so far exclusive to the G1 series – is out to fix that.

The LG 65G1 model we saw looked the most satisfyingly bright in the amply lit LG’s showroom, and the stock video reel on the TV flawlessly showed off the smoothness of the company’s new a9 Gen4 AI processor. We’ll have to run our own footage in a final LG G1 review, of course, but so far we’re impressed, even if we feel like the C1 will be a better (and cheaper) mainstream choice.

The G1 comes in two additional sizes: 55 and 77 inches, and while these weren’t on hand, they have the same top-of-the-line specs as the 65-inch sets we demoed. If you want to go even bigger, say 83 inches, you’ll have to step down to the C1 series – unless you go with an 8K TV. 

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LG G1 OLED price and release date

LG hasn’t clued us in on the G1 series price, but expect it to be extremely expensive (last year’s GX retailed at $3,499/ £3,199 / AU$5,999 for the 65-inch size). OLED evo is the company’s revamped display technology and the G1 has an appealing Gallery design that lets it sit flush with a wall or on a Gallery Stand. Like a classic painting, this television may break the bank for most people, but instantly become a priceless addition to the home for others.

The LG TV 2021 range has started rolling out worldwide, so you can expect the LG G1 OLED to launch in either late February or early-mid March.

(Image credit: Future)

LG G1 picture quality and specs

The G1 is poised to set a new bar for LG’s already impressive OLED TVs, with brightness, color and contrast amped up thanks to the implementation of the company’s first OLED evo panel.

OLED evo offers an increase in luminance, so it’s here to solve one of OLED’s few weaknesses in the back-and-forth battle of OLED vs QLED. While OLED has always had excellent black level performance, it doesn’t always measure up in brightly lit rooms. That’s where QLEDs, with peak brightness that can be two or three times that of OLEDs, really shine.

Our brief demo – in a brightly lit LG showroom – proved two things: the picture brightness that can be achieved from this next generation of OLED is satisfying even with the lights turned on, and the smooth motion of LG’s AI-backed processing looks delightfully fluid. 

The new a9 Gen 4 AI processor analyzes and tweaks the picture to adjust color and remove noise, and it should serve as a small step up from a9 Gen 3 processor found in the CX series. We can’t say just yet how much of an improvement you’ll see from this generation of motion processing. We’re eager to see more than LG’s limited stock footage: gracefully moving ballot dancers.

What we can tell you today is that the LG G1 includes Nvidia G-SYNC, FreeSync and the VRR (variable refresh rate), and a new Game Optimizer menu. This video game-focused menu offers a way to optimize the picture for certain genres (FPS, RPG, or real-time strategy) and toggle settings like OLED Motion Pro, reduce input lag and blue light. Samsung’s Game Bar is coming to its new TVs for 2021 with pretty much the same set of controls.

The back of this TV contains four HDMI 2.1 ports and they support the 4K at 120Hz optimal for PS5 and Xbox Series X. Rounding out the specs are HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision and Atmos. HDR10+ and DTS:X are still missing though, even on LG’s most advanced 4K TV for 2021. 

(Image credit: Future)

LG G1 OLED design, features and audio

The LG G1 pushes a stunning work-of-art design ethos with its flush design that minimalists will absolutely love. Yet this wall hugging TV helps a room stand out at the same time. We’ve seen this before in the LG OLED GX series, rivaling Samsung The Frame TV for elegance.

We saw the 65-inch version of this OLED TV sitting flush against a wall thanks to a built-in wall mount. There was no room between the back of the G1 OLED TV and the wall, except for hallowed-out passages where HDMI cables could snake out from the rear ports. 

Of course, you don’t have to mount this picturesque TV. We also got to check out another 65-inch model attached to LG’s new Gallery Stand – sold separately – which supports the G1 (and C1) series at 55 inches and 65 inches. You’re going to have to hang that 77-inch size, though.

You may not have to buy dedicated speakers thanks to the fact that this LG TV supports virtual 5.1.2 surround sound up-mixing courtesy of the a9 Gen 4 processor. This is another thing we won’t be able to tell for sure until we get the TV into our testing room for review. We always prefer the best soundbars, but if you’re not too picky, these rear-facing speakers should satisfy.

Auto Volume Leveling is another new perk in the company’s new OLEDs. This is LG’s way of maintaining a consistent volume level across various TV channels and streaming apps. May we all soon forget the pains of switching to a different source only to hear blaring sounds while diving for the remote’s volume down button.

LG’s TV interface gets a small makeover on its 2021 TVs; a new home screen is here for easier discovery as are faster access to apps. A refreshed Magic Remote contains new hot keys to popular apps. Google Stadia is here for built-in for cloud gaming, and you get access to two smart assistants: Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. While you won’t find Siri built into this TV (an Apple TV 4K is needed for that), LG TVs do support Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit.

The 2021 LG TV range (Image credit: LG)

Early verdict

LG G1 OLED is love at first sight. That’s how you’re going to feel about this TV when entering a retail store and seeing it for the first time. Its OLED evo standard offers a brightly lit screen with increased luminance over traditional OLEDs, and its design hugs the wall, allowing the TV to sit flush like a painting. 

It may be love lost, however, depending on your budget. While we don’t have the official LG G1 price yet, we know it’s going to be expensive at any size. This is, after all, LG’s top-of-the-line 4K TV for 2021 and it’s touting that cutting-edge (read: costly) OLED evo panel. Most consumers should dial it back just a tad to buy the fully capable LG C1. This bright new OLED is masquerading as artwork, and is clearly meant for big spenders who can afford such fine artisanship.

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