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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review: taken to the extreme
9:00 pm | January 17, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Phones Samsung Galaxy Phones | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Two-minute review

If you made a list of everything you’d want on the best phone you can buy, your list would point to one phone: the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Samsung is clearly working from the same list, and the S24 Ultra will please fans and tech enthusiasts alike. In many ways, including some I didn’t expect, the Galaxy S24 Ultra proves itself the best phone you can buy at any price. 

Do you want the best battery life? The Galaxy S24 Ultra outlasts the best iPhones and every previous Galaxy phone; it lasts more than a day with intense use. 

Do you want the best cameras around? The Galaxy S24 Ultra takes better photos than its predecessor, no matter what the spec sheet says. It remains the most versatile camera phone for all types of photographs. Your artistic friends may prefer the iPhone 15 Pro, but you’ll take better shots of everything if you have a Galaxy S24 Ultra. 

What else do you need? If you play games, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is one of the best gaming phones ever. It outperforms the best Android gaming phones, and it can even beat the blazing-fast iPhone 15 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra lock screen

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

If you use your phone for work, the S24 Ultra has professional features that even the Pro iPhone can’t top, like Samsung DeX software that turns your phone into a veritable laptop, complete with windows and an application dock. 

Samsung is relentless. In its pursuit to push the Galaxy S24 Ultra further than any phone that came before, it has mostly succeeded. And yet, more than ever, it’s apparent what is missing: elegance and simplicity. 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is the best phone you can buy in all of the ways that should matter. It’s also the culmination of Samsung’s worst instincts. And while fans won’t mind suffering for Samsung’s advancements, this phone won’t be winning any switchers from the competition. 

Samsung’s software is a mess. It’s a morass of settings, hidden features, and useless options that clutter the interface. It’s a jumble of features that were old five years ago, but which haven’t been either updated or abandoned since. 

For every new feature Samsung adds to excite buyers, it takes two steps back, hiding those features beneath further settings menus and layers of options. If you were expecting to find new AI features on the Galaxy S24 Ultra you won’t be disappointed, as long as you’re willing to look three layers deep in the Settings app.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing tiktok

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Samsung also may have squandered its brief performance lead on fanciful AI features that don’t work very well, or aren’t useful at all. Even if you find the language translation feature magical, you’ll also find a useless AI button that will reformat your Samsung Notes (who uses those?), or offer an inaccurate summarization of the web page you’re reading (gee, thanks). 

Worst of all, these AI features add a delay. While you’re speeding around the new Galaxy at the fastest clip ever, these new AI features are speed bumps on the highway, and the results are just as welcome. I’m hopeful that useful AI advancements are coming, but right now we’re suffering through a lot of proofs of concept, and it’s only slowing down this otherwise lightning-fast phone. 

The bottom line for the Galaxy S24 Ultra is still very high in the sky. This phone is the best you can buy, and all the software frustration and useless AI features won’t keep me from appreciating the weekend-long battery life, the unfailing cameras, and the endlessly-useful S Pen.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back with S Pen mostly withdrawn

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

This is the phone I use instead of my laptop or my tablet, because it’s more powerful and convenient when I need to get work done. This is the phone I show off when I want people to see what technology is coming in the near future. This is the phone I carry when I want to carry next to nothing, but still do everything. 

I wish the Galaxy S24 Ultra was much easier to use, and maybe AI can solve Samsung’s usability problems in the future. I think Samsung needs a reckoning before that happens. The iPhone 15 Pro with iOS 17 is not just simpler, it’s more fun and sociable, with cool features like Name Drop and Check In that make iPhone users proud to share among iPhone friends. 

Samsung doesn’t seem to care about that, but it should. The software problems have gotten bad enough that I won’t stick around much longer. The hardware is already great, and it somehow keeps getting better. Now it’s time for Samsung to focus on using the phones, instead of just building them.

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Price and value

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back in titanium grey

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Costs $100 more than last year’s Galaxy S23 Ultra
  • Seven years of OS updates could improve value
  • Trade in deals and launch offers aren’t as good as last year

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is more expensive at launch than last year's Ultra, and the difference is going to hurt more. The Galaxy S23 Ultra was already packed with features, and there's nothing so big and new in the Galaxy S24 Ultra. It just got a little bit better in a lot of ways. 

The real value could come down the road, thanks to Samsung's promise to deliver seven years of major Android and security updates. That length of long-term support was unheard of only last year, but now we have seven years of support for the best Android phones, with Apple lagging behind offering only five years of support. 

Samsung can promise breathlessly, but until we get to year seven, we won't know if it will truly deliver. Apple has literally delivered on this long-term promise a dozen times already across a wide range of iPhones. Google and Samsung – not once.

There's already reason to be skeptical. Buried in Samsung's latest terms of service is a notice that the current slate of AI features may only remain free for a limited time. Frankly, we have no idea what that means and it's too early to speculate. But it's weird, in a way that seems like Samsung is building legal backdoors to weasel out of expectations. Apple doesn't do that. Only time will tell if Samsung holds up.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra in front of Galaxy S23 Ultra

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

I bought a Galaxy S23 Ultra last year, trading a Galaxy S21 Ultra for it, and I am sad to report that trade in deals and discounts at launch are not as enticing as they were a year ago.

If you are trading up from last year's model, expect to pay hundreds over your trade value. I'd still say it's worth making the leap, just this once. Older phones are going to be left out of the newest AI features more and more with every update. That means values could plummet the first time Samsung delivers bad news and drops the features guillotine on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, or something even newer. 

Is this phone worth such a high price? If you're asking that question, you are reading the wrong review. You want the Galaxy S24 Plus, which is probably worth it. This is the Ultra. This is the extreme phone; the one that does what no other phone can do. You can't put a normal price tag on Ultra. It doesn't fit. 

  • Value Score: 3 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Specs and benchmarks

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing writing on lock screen

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

In our Future Labs benchmark tests of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, an astonishing thing happened. It beat the best-performing iPhone: the iPhone 15 Pro. In almost every single benchmark test we ran, the Galaxy S24 Ultra scored higher. In multi-core tests, graphics rendering tests, battery rundown tests, and many others, the Galaxy S24 Ultra beat the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. 

Last year's Galaxy S23 Ultra was not able to top the Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max, and it has been quite some time since an Android device scored a resounding win in cross-platform benchmark testing.

That said, I don't use benchmark scores in my final review score, and I only mention scores out of objective curiosity, not because benchmarks should be a part of a buying decision.

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Design

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra from side showing buttons

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • A big ol’ slab of smartphone
  • Titanium hasn’t made it lighter
  • Polished and classy, but unchanged

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is indistinguishable from the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which doesn't mean there are no differences, but rather the changes are inconsequential. The speaker grills are different, the microphones moved a bit, but mostly the new phone looks like the old phone. That's too bad, because while Samsung's Ultra phone oozes a certain refinement, it isn't very interesting at a glance.

A deeper inspection is rewarding. The back glass is layers upon layers of metallic paint, which gives the phone an eerie depth, especially in the ghostly, natural grey titanium finish. The violet finish is my favorite, with a great contrast against the polished metal. 

Samsung pays great attention to detail when it comes to color, materials and finish. Each color has a subtly hued frame that complements the new Gorilla Glass Armor back. The titanium black is all black, while other color options edge into warmer frame tones.

Apple fans like to point out the symmetry of their phone as a pinnacle of its design. Frankly, Samsung is more smart than symmetrical. I prefer having Power and Volume buttons on the same side. It means I don't fill my photo gallery with accidental screenshots every time I grab my phone.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra beneath an iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Like Apple, Samsung has opted for titanium on the frame this year, but it doesn’t make as much difference as it does on my iPhone 15 Pro Max. The Pro Max managed to shed considerable weight this year versus last year, about half an ounce. The Galaxy Ultra? It’s a single gram lighter, at most.

If you’ve never played with an Ultra, you really need to pick one up and pop the pen. Did you know the S Pen clicks? There's no reason for it. It could just pop out, spring-loaded, but instead the S Pen has a clicky top that is extremely satisfying. Oh, the S Pen is also a motion-sensing stylus with a Bluetooth camera remote button, but Samsung hasn't neglected the clicky top. 

Of course, that S Pen isn’t just built for fun, it’s one of the most surprisingly capable accessories ever. It’s as precise as a professional drawing tool, not like a big, clumsy, rubber-tipped stylus that you can buy for an iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra held from the side

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

It also has Bluetooth built in so the side button can act as a remote control for other features on your phone, especially the camera. That’s right, the Galaxy S24 Ultra ships with a remote camera shutter release, which is an accessory I actually bought to go with my Nikon DSLR. 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is flat this year, ending a run of screen curvature that began with the double-black-diamond slope of the Galaxy Note Edge, and subtly resolved itself into a signature Samsung look that reduced the effect of the bezel around the edges. On the front and back, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has gently-rounded curves that make the phone feel much nicer to hold. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is more sharp, and though it isn't uncomfortable, it feels conspicuously big.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Display

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing generative AI wallpaper castle

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Fantastic display in bright light or a very dim room
  • Huge and sharp, among the best you’ll find
  • Lack of Dolby Vision support still stings

The display on the Galaxy S24 Ultra is excellent, as good as you'd hope to find on a premiere smartphone. It’s huge, bright and colorful, especially using the Vivid color tone option.

There are plenty of adaptations for this display, including adaptive brightness and color tones that measure ambient lighting and adjust the display to look its best. In bright, outdoor light, the display can boost to a stunning 2,600 nits, which isn't quite the brightest you can find, but you won't need any brighter. 

Even more interesting might be the Extra Dim option. The Galaxy S24 Ultra can maintain good color fidelity even down at one nit of brightness. That's dim enough that you could almost check your messages in a movie theater, but then you’d be an extra dim Ultra jerk. But you could.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra playing a TikTok video

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

There is an always-on display mode, but Samsung also still makes its unique S-View cases, which provide a small window for time, weather, and notifications, peeping through a wallet cover case. It's a very cool case feature that Samsung never abandoned, even if we haven't checked them out for a while. 

Could the Galaxy S24 Ultra display be any better? Absolutely. There are phone displays that can reach 144Hz refresh rate, though that may be faster than a human eye can actually see. 

It would be nice for Samsung to give up the fight against Dolby Vision on its phone displays and TV sets. If you watch a lot of Netflix, shows look better when you compare a display with Dolby Vision against a display without. It seems like a silly omission for Samsung not to support Dolby's HDR video standard, when it supports Dolby Audio.

  • Display score: 5 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Software

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing Advanced Intelligence settings menu

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Terrible software hides all new features under ‘Settings’
  • New AI features are occasionally magical, but mostly useless
  • Seven year update promise already has an asterisk

It has become abundantly clear that Samsung is focused entirely on hardware and has no interest in improving its software. The software on the Galaxy S24 Ultra is terrible, and One UI is becoming unusable. Even the simplest features are bogged down with options and menus, and Samsung can’t seem to make a single decision about what’s best for its users.

I'm going to give Samsung a year to fix its software problems, though I suspect it will take two years or more to dig out of the current mess. Everything that was wrong with Samsung software has got worse, and the problems have started infecting every new addition, like a disease.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is loaded with features, but where do you find them? Where do you find the new AI translation tools, or set up the AI feature that rewrites your text messages? Where do you turn on AI to edit photos, or AI to summarize a web page? All in the same place, sadly.

All of the new Samsung Galaxy AI features are buried in Settings, and they are not at the surface. There are 22 different options in the Settings menu. Option 16 of 22 is Advanced Features. Tap on this and you'll find “Advanced Intelligence,” which isn't actually what AI stands for… is it? In any case, that’s where Samsung has hidden all of the cool new features for its flagship smartphone: under the 16th Setting option, three layers down.

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing

Using Google's new Circle to Search (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing

Google correctly identifies the lighthouse I was shooting (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

I’ve talked to Samsung about this, and they recognize that it’s a problem. Features are hidden. Everything gets buried in Settings, as if that is a place we expect to find features as disparate as wireless power sharing, parental controls for children, and always-on display widgets. 

In a feeble attempt to inform users about everything the phone can do, the Galaxy S24 Ultra will occasionally bubble up messages and suggestions for things to try. Sadly, Samsung phones are overloaded with messages and suggestions. Galaxy phones will infamously serve you an advertisement, on your brand new Galaxy phone, imploring you to buy that brand new Galaxy phone. 

That’s not how you educate people. Take it from me, a former high school teacher, if you simply tell your users about a new feature once, you haven’t taught them to use it. Samsung needs to take a big step back and figure out how to encourage users to try features they will enjoy. Samsung also needs to remove the features that aren’t being used, and hide the ones that don’t need to be visible. 

As for the new AI features, they are a mixed bag of amazing magic and useless doggerel. If you get a chance to use the AI translation on a phone call, it’s like science fiction. It feels like you’ve stuck a Babel fish into your ear and you’re living in a fantasy future. Samsung could write ‘Don’t Panic’ on the phone and ship it with a towel.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing AI writing style tools

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Other AI features are useful, but only to a point. The AI writing style feature can adapt your text messages to a variety of different styles, including a professional tone and more playful messages, replete with emojis and hashtags. In practice, the differences were not very useful, and I mostly  just stuck with what I’d written. Samsung also over-promised on this feature. I distinctly remember reps saying the phone would convert my words to Shakespeare, but I’ve seen nothing like this on my S24 Ultra. 

These writing style and translation features are built into the Samsung Keyboard, so they work across multiple apps. Unfortunately, Samsung has utterly broken its software keyboard. During my test period, I had some of the worst trouble with autocorrect and an onscreen keyboard that I’ve ever had. 

The keyboard would often capitalize words in the middle of a sentence for no reason. Even worse, it would autocorrect partial words and automatically insert some nonsensical phrase or string of characters into my typing. While typing contractions, most keyboards are smart enough to insert the apostrophe, but on the Samsung Keyboard the autocorrect tried to insert whole new words after my contraction. It was making up content out of context, and it was completely wrong.

When I went back to change the error, the keyboard was quite unfriendly. While the Apple iPhone keyboard assumes that a backspace after autocorrect means the autocorrection was bad, the Samsung keyboard sticks to its guns and makes changing errors incredibly tedious. 

I suspect that if I am diligent with the Samsung Keyboard and I keep correcting all of its elementary errors, I will eventually teach it to write properly. I don’t have time for this. I’m not sure how Samsung broke its keyboard so badly, but it’s terrible and needs an immediate update. 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has generative AI wallpaper, just like the Google Pixel 8 Pro (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Some of the AI features that carried over from the Google Pixel 8 family have turned out to be a disappointment, as well. Samsung promised that its Voice Recorder app would offer transcripts and summaries, just like the Recorder app on the Google Pixel. In practice, Samsung’s app is not as advanced or useful as the Pixel version. It’s slower, less accurate, and does not provide a live transcription of the conversation as it happens. 

The image editing features are also less impressive on the Galaxy S24 Ultra than they are on the Pixel 8 Pro. The Galaxy gets Samsung’s take on the Magic Editor tool, dubbed Generative Edit, which lets you select objects in your photo to move, resize, or erase them. When you erase an object or a whole background, the phone can use AI to replace that part of the image. 

What the Samsung phone lacks are the best editing tools available on the Pixel, namely the Photo Unblur tool that sharpens even old photos  you didn’t take with your smartphone, and the Best Take option that combines multiple photos to get rid of closed eyes and ugly expressions.

Yet, as much as I complain about Samsung’s software, there are simply things you can do with a Galaxy phone, especially the Galaxy S24 Ultra, that you can’t do with anything else. I love Samsung’s DeX, which turns your phone into something that acts more like a Chromebook, when you plug it into a monitor with a keyboard and mouse. You get a new home screen with windows and a dock, and everything runs smoothly. 

Why is this useful? I have a computer at home, but my corporate IT guys don’t like me using it for work stuff. Instead, I use my phone, which is already set up with work and personal accounts. If I need to get work done at home, or even while I’m traveling, I don’t need to bring my work laptop. I can just plug my Galaxy S24 Ultra into a USB hub and now I have all of my work and personal stuff in one place. 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra connected to a monitor and keyboard using DeX

Using the Galaxy S24 Ultra (left) with DeX on my home monitor (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

I can respond to important emails using a real keyboard, or edit documents in Microsoft Word and Google Docs. I can do just about everything I need, short of running Chrome web browser extensions. I never need to add my protected work account to my own personal computer. I can just use DeX and have the best of both worlds on my Galaxy S24 Ultra.

As mentioned, Samsung promises that the entire Galaxy S24 family will get software updates and security patches for the next seven years. With brand new AI features on the phone, I wonder how Samsung will be able to pull this off, especially since AI seems to be advancing exponentially. How can a seven-year-old phone possibly survive in the year 2031?

One clue may lie in Samsung’s terms of service. Hidden deep you’ll find the following language concerning AI features: “Samsung may, at any time, change some or all of its advanced intelligence features to subscription-based features, in which case Samsung will provide prior notice. Samsung reserves the right to rate limit you to prevent quality decay or interruptions to the advanced intelligence features.”

This could be completely innocuous, or it could be a sinister sign that Samsung is looking for a loophole to get out of its seven year promise. It may offer future Android updates in regular and “Premium” versions. It could also exclude certain models from any future premium feature and just offer the most basic, barebones OS to the Galaxy S24 Ultra by the time, say, Android 18 is launched, presumably in four years.

In any case, there is now an asterisk on Samsung’s promise of seven years of updates, until this is clarified. I want and expect Samsung to behave like Apple. Any features that aren’t entirely hardware dependent should come to every eligible phone. The five-year old iPhone XR obviously can’t get a new Dynamic Island, but the latest update brought NameDrop, which is a brand new iOS 17 feature. We expect the same when the Galaxy S24 Ultra is updated to Android 21 in 2031.

  • Software score: 3 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra cameras

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Better image quality, even if the specs are suspicious
  • Less detail from the zoom lens, but better color and range
  • Still needs help with low light and noise reduction

The Galaxy S23 Ultra was our overall best camera phone of last year, so rumors that Samsung would be dropping the optical zoom from 10x to 5x set off a flurry of concern. The 10x zoom was the standout feature on the Galaxy S23 Ultra … aside from the 200MP sensor, the two zoom lenses, the 100x digital astrophotography, the AI image enhancements, and everything else the phone could do. Still, it’s odd for Samsung to take a step backwards, especially where specs are concerned.

Let’s start with the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s 5x zoom lens. Samsung has not taken a step backwards, more a step sideways. The Galaxy S24 Ultra still has the best zoom camera you can find on a smartphone. It’s better than the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 10x zoom, and it’s much better than the 5x zoom you’ll find on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Most of the time, like when you are really using the zoom to its full extent.

When you zoom in to 10x or even 100X, the Galaxy S24 Ultra produces images with better color and much better dynamic range than the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Where the older camera made images look flat, you’ll see more depth and shadow with the Galaxy S24 Ultra. What you won’t see is plenty of detail. Samsung has sacrificed the fine details in images for better overall quality.

It’s a good trade. Those 10x and 100x zoom images from the S23 UItra look terrible. Sure, you could make out some details, but they are mixed with noise and blur like a virtual chopped salad. On the Galaxy S24 Ultra, you won’t see as much, but you’ll be happier sharing those photos because they actually look like good pictures, rather than  police evidence. 

In a straight comparison between the Galaxy S24 Ultra and the iPhone 15 Pro Max at 5x zoom, the iPhone produces better images. Once you start applying digital zoom, the Galaxy does a better job. At 5x zoom, I got a nice landscape shot of a lighthouse from both cameras. When I zoomed into 25x, the Galaxy kept more detail and even better color than the iPhone. The iPhone couldn’t zoom any farther, but the Galaxy S24 Ultra could grab enough detail from Peck Ledge lighthouse, which sits a mile off the Connecticut coast, to count the stairs leading up from the dock.

Samsung has been criticized in the past for unnatural color in photos, and it’s clear the company took this to heart and tried to hew closer to the iPhone’s processing techniques. Colors look much more natural all around, often even cooler than the over-warm iPhone pics that cast a yellowish tint on some images. Digital sharpening problems have been reigned in, so the Galaxy S24 Ultra produces images with a nice amount of detail, without the blurriness you’ll find on some iPhone pics.

That doesn’t mean the camera isn’t without problems. Low light is still an issue, and other phones handle various night situations better. The Google Pixel 8 Pro is better at landscape and city photos at night, and even the OnePlus 12 could handle some mixed-light shots, like taking photos of food in a dark restaurant, better than Samsung’s best. 

Overall, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the best camera phone I’ve used in the past year. It may not dominate in every area, but it performs consistently better than every other phone, whether you’re using an iPhone, a Pixel, or even a newer OnePlus phone with fancy Hasselblad processing. 

Where Samsung really excels is in the interesting shots. If you need a good macro photo up close, or an appetizing pic of the pizza you made, the Galaxy has you covered. Selfies and portraits look great, with accurate skin tones and enough detail that you won’t look like a poseur. The phone had no trouble framing my adorable dog and cropping her fuzzy ears nicely in a portrait shot. 

For photo editing, Samsung has made some advances, but you’re better off relying on third-party software, and maybe even some obscure Samsung apps. In the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s Gallery app, you can now apply the Generative Edit AI features, which can resize and move objects in your image, or completely change the background depending on the context of the shot. It’s a nice trick, but I’m not sure it counts as photography as much as mixed-media collage. If you do apply any AI tricks, though, Samsung will add a small watermark to your photo to let viewers know.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Samsung Gallery app will suggest photo edits, like removing reflections (above). You can see the results below:

If you miss the Photo Unblur feature from the Google Pixel 8 (and it is quite desirable), you can head to the Galaxy App Store and download Samsung’s Galaxy Enhance-X photo editor. This little-known app gives you a ton of advanced photo editing tools, many of which rely on AI and machine learning. These tools aren’t as effective as edits in Google Photos on a Google Pixel 8 Pro, but it’s cool to peek into Samsung’s software skunkworks to see what the company can create. 

You can also run more advanced photo editing software, like Adobe Lightroom and SnapSeed. These apps run very smoothly on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, and it was easier to edit photos with the S Pen than with my finger. 

I have not been able to test the AI moon photography features on the Galaxy S24 Ultra because it’s been cloudy since I received my review unit, but rest assured I will be shooting for the moon as soon as possible. Samsung says that the AI on board will recognize objects, then try to identify the subject to shoot the best photo. We’ll see if the new phone can keep up with the dazzling astrophotography of last year’s Galaxy S23 Ultra

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Image samples

You can see the significant improvement in the image processing that Galaxy S24 Ultra demonstrates over the Galaxy S23 Ultra. 

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Selfie taken with the Galaxy S24 Ultra

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Selfie taken with the Galaxy S24 Ultra

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Selfie taken with the Galaxy S24 Ultra

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Camera score: 5 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Performance

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra playing Call of Duty Mobile

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • First Android in memory to beat the iPhone in benchmarks
  • Only delay comes with new AI features
  • Tops in gaming and productivity

Ever since Apple started making its own Bionic chipset for the iPhone, we haven’t seen an Android phone that could beat Apple’s best iPhone in raw performance. That ends with the Galaxy S24 Ultra. The Ultra is just as fast as the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and in many ways it’s even faster. You may never notice the performance gains, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Qualcomm and Samsung have managed to top Apple’s silicon for the first time in years. 

What does that mean in the real world? Everything that you could do on your smartphone you can now do faster. If you play games like Call of Duty Mobile or Genshin Impact, you can play at the highest settings and experience fluid framerates and stutter-free gaming. 

Pair your game with an Xbox or Playstation controller via Bluetooth and you will be destroying noobs on pathetic Pixels and cheap Motorola phones in your multiplayer arena of choice. Seriously, having a phone that responds so quickly to your commands and movements is a huge win for multiplayer games. 

Is the Galaxy S24 Ultra a gaming phone, then? You’d better believe it. I tested the S24 Ultra against the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro, a phone that is truly made for gaming. The S24 Ultra had no problem beating the ROG Phone 8 in every metric, even producing a higher framerate on the newest games.

If gaming isn’t your thing, you can still feel the performance benefits. I edit photos in Adobe Lightroom, and on my Galaxy S24 Ultra I can move the adjustment sliders freely and watch my photo change in real time. In side-by-side tests using the new Adobe intelligent masking features, the Galaxy S24 Ultra was able to find and select my foreground subject in seconds faster than my older Galaxy S23 Ultra. 

The only features that cause a delay on the Galaxy S24 Ultra are the new AI features, and that’s ironic. For the first time in years, Samsung commands a lead over its rival Apple, but it loaded the Galaxy S24 Ultra with AI features that Apple has skipped, so far. Instead of feeling like everything moves faster on my Galaxy, I have to wait while the AI composes new text messages, or makes edits in the photo gallery. 

Those features aren’t worth the wait. If there was no waiting, if writing suggestions appeared in real time the way Adobe Lightroom changes my photos, I’d be amazed by the AI tools and I’d use them more often. Instead, every time I see the AI stars logo appear, I see a Stop sign. 

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Battery life

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra battery settings menu

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Excellent battery life, among the best you’ll find
  • Fast charging, but could be faster
  • Plenty of power management options

You won’t find a phone with longer battery life than the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Not only does the S24 Ultra beat last year’s S23 Ultra in battery performance, it also outlasts every iPhone 15 model and all of the best Android phones. 

You’d have to buy a hardcore gaming phone with a massive battery inside, like the Red Magic 9 Pro with its 6,500mAh cell, to get any more battery life from your phone. 

Samsung didn’t increase the size of the battery over last year’s Ultra, it just improved power management on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, so it saves more juice. The adaptive screen settings can be aggressive, but you can turn them off if you need a bright display all the time. You can also adjust settings like screen resolution and processor performance to save more power. 

There are even more extreme options. Samsung used to have an ultra power saving mode, but now that’s just another setting under the Power Saving features, letting you limit the apps available, turn off edge panels, dim the display, and generally shut down everything you don’t need to conserve every watt. 

There should be a more intelligent power management option that reads your habits and adapts the power savings to the way you use the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Oh, wait, there is such a mode and it’s called “Adaptive power saving.” But you’ll never find it.

Adaptive power saving is buried under the Settings menu, then under ‘Device care.’ Then you have to tap the Battery graph, which is a button that doesn’t actually look like a button, but trust me it’s a button. 

Then tap ‘Power saving,’ which also looks like plain text and not a button. Again, it’s a button. Hooray, you’re almost there! Just find the three little dots in the upper-right corner, which is a Samsung way to hide even more menus, and then you’ll finally be able to open the ‘Adaptive power saving’ settings. 

Why, Samsung? Why? Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t my Galaxy S24 Ultra come with adaptive power saving turned on by default? If this feature is so useful, why is it hidden beneath FIVE LAYERS of menus? Beneath buttons that don’t look like buttons, and submenus that are just cryptic dots? Enough is enough. Fix the software, or this is my last Galaxy Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra from the bottom showing USB C port

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Galaxy S24 Ultra charges at 45W, which is a respectable charging speed, fast enough to get you well past 50% if you only have a half hour to charge your phone. In fifteen minutes, my Galaxy S24 Ultra was just under 40% charged, and it took around 45 minutes to charge the phone completely. That’s even faster than Samsung promises.

There are phones that charge faster, like the OnePlus 12 that comes with an 80W charger. That phone can reach 100% charge in about half an hour, and OnePlus even has a superfast (ie. SuperVOOC technology) wireless charger that is capable of 50W charging. The S24 Ultra can handle up to 15W wireless charging, including the latest Qi2 charging standard. 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra can also charge other devices wirelessly, and if you can find wireless power sharing in the Settings menu, I will personally send you a prize. Instead, just add a Wireless power sharing button to the Quick settings menu if that’s a feature you use often. 

Unlike the OnePlus 12, the Galaxy S24 Ultra does not come with a charger in the box, and if you want the fastest charging speed you’ll need to pay attention to the charger you buy. You can spend a lot of money and get a big wall wart from Samsung, or you can do the right thing and get this Anker 713 Nano Charger from Amazon for around half the price.

  • Battery score: 5 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Score card

Buy it if...

You want to do a lot more with your phone
If you want a phone that does more than a phone should be capable of doing, you want a Galaxy S24 Ultra. This isn’t just a phone, it’s a laptop, a drawing tablet, a game console, and an entire camera bag in your pocket.

You want to see what the future feels like in your hand
Samsung tries new features before any other phone company, and if you want to make a phone call with a Star Trek universal translator, or have an AI rewrite your text messages for you, you need a Galaxy S24 Ultra. 

You want the best phone overall, no matter how hard it is to use
The Galaxy S24 Ultra is admittedly complicated, but that’s because there is so much that you can do with it. If you want uncompromising technology with every option available, get the Ultra. 

Don't buy it if...

You don’t need all that
If you have ever started a sentence with “I don’t need,” then the Galaxy S24 Ultra is not for you. It has everything you need and everything you don’t, and you can’t ask for less. It only comes with everything. 

You want a phone you can use with one hand
The Galaxy S24 Ultra is titanium, but it isn’t lighter than last year’s phone, and the Ultra is a big beast to behold. If you need something more manageable, try a different device. 

You prefer an elegant experience over tech wizardry
While the Galaxy S24 Ultra is a phone like no other, it isn’t easy to use, nor is the software elegant. If you want to appreciate intuitive design and features that feel natural, check out what Apple is doing with iOS 17 on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. 

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Also consider

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
If you want the absolute best phone but the Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t strike the right cord, there’s only one other phone to consider and that’s Apple biggest and best iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
If cameras aren’t so important, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 gives you everything you’ll find on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, with a tablet folded away inside. It’s a whole new class of device. 

Google Pixel 8 Pro
You can save a lot of money by considering the Pixel 8 Pro, which is not only simple to use with a great camera, it also gets the same seven years of Android updates that Samsung has promised. Plus, AI directly from Google with no Samsung in between.

How I tested the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

  • One week testing period
  • Used AI features extensively, plus Samsung exclusive software
  • Benchmark testing for comparison, not scoring purposes

I had the Galaxy S24 Ultra for a week before this review posted, but I have more experience with Samsung Galaxy Ultra phones than any other phone model, and perhaps more than any other reviewer. I worked for Samsung as an internal reviewer when the first Galaxy Note was launched, and I have used every Samsung S Pen-enabled smartphone ever produced, including the one that nobody else used because it exploded. 

While Samsung provides review units for me to borrow, I have purchased my past two Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy S23 Ultra devices with my own cash, and this phone is calling my name. 

I used the Galaxy S24 Ultra to its utmost, testing every single new feature that Samsung has marketed, and retesting all of my favorite old features. I used AI for messaging, summaries, and transcription, in addition to testing the translation features with foreign language teachers and students. I also tested DeX for work, Bixby for interface control, and all of the other Samsung features. 

I played games with the Galaxy S24 Ultra, mostly Call of Duty Mobile and Marvel Snap, in addition to trying others, like the new Warcraft Rumble game that just launched late in 2023. I play games at the maximum settings, with Bluetooth headphones and a Bluetooth joystick attached where appropriate. 

I also tested the Galaxy S24 Ultra with accessories and external devices, including a Dell monitor, Razer Blackwidow keyboard, and Logitech Master MX 2 mouse for DeX. I used a variety of wireless earbuds, including Galaxy Buds FE, Pixel Buds Pro and Nothing Stick 2 earbuds, as well as Ray Ban Meta smart glasses. 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra was benchmarked in Future Labs by our resident benchmarking expert, and results were shared and discussed with review editors. Benchmarks do not affect review scores in any way, and are helpful for comparison but not for real-world review purposes. 

I tested the Galaxy S24 Ultra camera in a shootout against the current best cameras available, including the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the iPhone 15 Pro Max, the OnePlus 12, and the Google Pixel 8 Pro. I took hundreds of photographs under the same lighting conditions for each, with similar settings enabled. Then, I compared the photographs when viewed on a professional Dell monitor at full resolution. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed January, 2024

Panasonic DP-UB820 review: a fantastic, affordable 4K Blu-ray player that’s built to last
6:09 pm | December 20, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Blu-ray Computers Gadgets Home Theater Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Panasonic DP-UB820 review: One minute review

The Panasonic DP-UB820 is one of Panasonic’s mid-range 4K Blu-ray players that offers a strong suite of features, and supports a lot of audio and video formats including Dolby Vision and HDR10+ for video, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for audio, and can even support up to 7.1 channels of audio directly with audio analogue output options. It has Wi-Fi for streaming apps such as Netflix, too.

Performance wise, the Panasonic DP-UB820 offers fantastic 4K image reproduction with vivid colors, deep black levels and stunning contrast, particularly when it comes to Dolby Vision – it's up there with the best 4K Blu-ray players. Its 4K upscaling is effective, giving regular (non-4K) Blu-ray a whole new level of detail. Even DVDs are given a new lease on life thanks to the UB820’s upscaling efforts, though you'll notice far more that it was a lower-quality source. 

Audio performance is also superb, with Dolby Atmos effects coming through clear and adding that extra layer of immersion to any movie. Paired with one of the best TVs and best soundbars, the Panasonic DP-UB820 completes the home theater experience beautifully.

The Panasonic DP-UB820’s software feels a little cumbersome at times, but it still gives plenty of options and settings for people to adjust to get the picture and audio of their movies to just how they like it. 

Design-wise, the Panasonic DP-UB820 may not be the most remarkable bit of kit, but it’s still a solid player that keeps things simple. Whilst its front panel that covers the whole device keeps things a little neater, it does mean people will have to think about where the hinged panel will open and close with the disc tray, meaning those with shelved TV stands may have to do some Tetris-esque moving.

In terms of value, the Panasonic DP-UB820 is one of the best Blu-ray buys today. Priced at under $500/£349/AU$760, this really is a well-featured and high-performing player for the price. Thanks to some personal history with this player, I can also confirm this will work and work and work until it can't give anymore; it's a solid investment.

Panasonic DP-UB820 remote

The Panasonic DP-UB820's remote (pictured) is a little button heavy but functional nonetheless. (Image credit: Future)

Panasonic DP-UB820 review: Prices & release date

  • Released in August 2018 
  • Priced around $499/£349/AU$769 

The Panasonic DP-UB820 is a mid-range,4K Blu-ray player that sits in the middle point of Panasonic’s range of 4K Blu-ray players, above budget models such as the Panasonic UB154, but below the premium Panasonic DP-UB9000. It's officially priced with a slighter higher tag of $499 in the US, but the DP-UB820 is competitive at £349 and AU$769 in the UK and Australia respectively. 

At the time of writing, we’ve seen the DP-UB820 for much lower prices than above, falling to around $399 in the US, £249 in the UK, and as low as $538 in Australia. Whilst these prices do fluctuate, they often drop to this level or only slightly higher. For a player with this level of features and capabilities, this is an excellent price. 

Panasonic DP-UB820 picture settings menu on Panasonic MZ1500

The Panasonic DP-UB820 offers lots of settings that you can adjust to get the picture how you'd like. (Image credit: Future)

Panasonic DP-UB820 review: Specs

Panasonic DP-UB820 rear panel

The Panasonic DP-UB820 comes with plenty of connections including twin HDMI (one is audio-only). (Image credit: Future)

Panasonic DP-UB820 review: Features

  • Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support 
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support  
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and streaming capabilities

The Panasonic DP-UB820 is packed with features for its price tag. It supports playback of 4K Blu-ray, regular and even 3D Blu-ray, DVD, AVCHD, CD and various recordable disc formats as well. It  doesn’t support SACD, unfortunately, but you could step up to the Magnetar UDP800 if you need that.  

In terms of HDR support, the UB820 has covered all the bases with support for Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10 and HLG included. 

For audio formats, the UB820 again supports the vital Dolby and DTS formats including Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X and DTS:HD Master Audio. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are in bitstream output whilst Dolby TrueHD and DTS:HD MA are in bitstream and decoded outputs.

Music formats are also heavily supported including the usual FLAC, WAV, MP3 and AAC formats to name a few. There’s also support for Hi-Res Audio files including DSD at 2.8 MHz (2ch and 5.1ch), 5.6 MHz (2 ch and 5.1ch) and 11.2 MHz (2ch) and ALAC files (96 kHz/32 bit at 7.1ch and 192 kHz/32-bit at 5.1ch). 

Connectivity on the UB820 is again well-stocked, and includes two HDMI ports (one for audio and one for audio/video), digital optical output, analogue audio output (both LR and up to 7.1 channels) and two USB inputs (one 3.0 and one 2.0) for HDD playback. It also has Wi-Fi connectivity for streaming, with apps such as Netflix built into the streaming hub. 

The built-in software for the UB820 offers plenty of menus and settings to tweak so you can tailor the picture of your movies to what you need. Some particular highlights include choosing the display, labelled ‘HDR TV type’ in the Advanced Settings section, which offers options such as 'OLED' and 'Middle to High Luminance LCD', which made subtle changes to the picture based on choice. Although it didn’t make a huge difference, it was a welcome feature nonetheless.

Other settings, also in Advanced Settings, including Deep Color Output, HDR/Color Gamut Output and more for picture, and there were also adjustments for audio including Downmixing and 7.1-channel audio reformatting. Among these, there were also picture settings you could adjust such as black level, contrast and noise reduction for non-HDR sources such as regular Blu-ray.

Performance-wise, the UB820 was easy enough to navigate but there were some small frustrations. This included some settings that could only be changed when going back to the main menu of the UB820 itself, such as HDR10+ or Dolby Vision mode. During testing, the UB820 would favor HDR10+ over Dolby Vision when I tested it with a disc that supports both – which is frustrating because Dolby Vision looked better in most cases (more on that below). The only way I could find to avoid this is to deactivate HDR10+ – but I want it active for when I'm watching something that only supports it! This is only a problem if you have a TV that supports both HDR formats, but that includes the kind of home theater fan this Blu-ray is aimed at, right? There were also times where the software would stutter and pause, but this was not often. 

For the price however, the Panasonic DPUB820 is stacked with features and connectivity, especially at a very reasonable price.

  • Features score: 4.5/5  

Panasonic DP-UB820 with Godzilla on screen

Movies such as Godzilla vs Kong (pictured) looked incredible on the Panasonic DP-UB820, with vibrant colors and stunning contrast and depth. (Image credit: Future)

Panasonic DP-UB820 review: Performance

  • Excellent picture reproduction
  • Effective upscaling on most sources
  • Fantastic audio performance

Straight off the bat, the Panasonic DP-UB820 has great loading times, with the process from loading the disc into the tray to the first logos displayed on screen taking 35-40 seconds all told, not dissimilar timings to logging into some streaming apps and loading previously watched TV shows.

4K pictures look sensational through the UB820. Firstly, using Godzilla vs Kong to test both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ formats, in the climactic fight scene between Godzilla and Kong in Tokyo, the colors of the eye-watering neon signs buildings were bright, dynamic and had plenty of garish punch as you would expect. Contrast was also superb, with deep, rich black levels complementing the bright colors. Everything looks sharp and textures were crisp without being overly hard. 

When looking at Dolby Vision vs HDR10+ through the same player, on the same TV – which will only be a choice for those whose have TVs that support both formats such as the Hisense U8K, Philips OLED808 and Panasonic MZ1500 to name a few – Dolby Vision had the edge. During the same Godzilla vs Kong scene above, switching between the two HDR formats demonstrated that Dolby Vision offered deeper black levels, and this added contrast made the colors seem to pop more than through HDR10+, and even means there's an perceptive improvement in some texture and detail. That's definitely not to say HDR10+ looked bad, far from it in fact, but if you have the option of both I'd go for Dolby Vision.

In Top Gun: Maverick on 4K Blu-ray, and Dolby Vision performance was brilliant there, too. People’s skin tones and facial details during close-up shots were extremely rich, refined, and felt true-to-life. Brighter images felt natural yet vibrant. Motion was extremely well-handled by the UB820 and during any of the jet sequences, there was minimal judder and blurring. 

Moving on to lower-quality format discs, I started by viewing the same scene from Godzilla vs Kong as I’d used before for comparison, but on regular Blu-ray, and was blown away by the UB820’s picture, thanks to its effective 4K upscaling. Although it wasn’t quite as good as the 4K disc itself, the picture still carried enough vibrant color, rich contrast and crisp textures to make you look twice and question whether you’d put the 4K disc in. 

Watching a DVD of The Amazing Spider-man didn't deliver the same standard as Blu-ray upscaling (no surprise, given that it's now having to upscale to 16 times as many pixels), and textures appeared soft in places as a result – but the overall quality was still strong, as the UB820 maintained good levels of detail, punchy colors and solid textures overall.

I also tested older movies including the 4K Blu-ray of Alien and a Blu-ray of Thief to see how the UB820's processing handled film grain. Although there was film grain present, more so in Thief, the UB820 balanced keeping enough grain for the enthusiast alongside upscaling it to take advantage of a 4K screen. It didn't come across as artificially cleaned up, and there was no obvious problem of it struggling to find detail among the grainer scenes, such as the shots at dawn near the start of Thief.

Moving on to audio, the UB820 did a fantastic job of reproducing Dolby Atmos effects with the jets in Top Gun: Maverick feeling like they're gliding around the room with a suitable Dolby Atmos soundbar or surround system. 

Testing the DTS:HD Master Audio 5.1 mix of Alien, the foreboding and doom-ridden parts of the soundtrack were as claustrophobic as you’d hope, and those moments of noise cutting through the silence of the Nostromo’s landing early on were powerful and direct.

As for music, there is a built-in app called Berliner Philharmoniker featuring performances of classical music and listening to Mozart concertos, also in Dolby Atmos, which is a fun addition, and really shows off your sound system. Every instrument had room to breathe, and there was a fantastic balance between the trebles, mids and bass. 

Finally, I tested its CD playback, and although not mind-blowing, vocals were still clear, and there was a good balance between other instruments, with a healthy showing of bass. 

  • Performance score: 5/5

Panasonic DP-UB820 with disc tray open on white stand

The Panasonic DP-UB820 does have a hinged panel that opens with the disc tray which could be a problem for particular shelving in certain narrower units. (Image credit: Future)

Panasonic DP-UB820 review: Design

  • Lightweight but durable build  
  • Hinged panel in front of disc tray  
  • Plenty of connections for mid-range player  

The Panasonic DP-UB820 is lightweight compared to its more premium counterpart, the Panasonic DP-UB9000, with the former weighing in at a much lighter 2.4kg compared to the latter’s 8kg weight. Although it’s not made of metal like more premium Blu-ray players, the UB820 still feels durable.

The disc tray and digital display, which looks a bit old-school, are set behind a hinged panel that opens and closes with the disc tray itself. While this keeps things looking neat, it does mean the UB820 needs space across the whole front to allow the panel to open. This could cause a problem for those with restrictive TV stands in one way or another, though may not be a problem for most people.

There are plenty of connections on the rear panel of the UB820 including two HDMI ports, USB, digital optical output, up to 7.1 channels of analogue output, and LAN for wired network connections. For a mid-range player, this is a lot of connectivity and presents a lot of audio options for movie users.

The UB820’s supplied remote is on the smaller side and features plenty of buttons to press including a number pad. If anything, there are probably a few too many buttons, but there are also options to navigate the various menus that do make navigation that bit easier.

  • Design score: 4/5 

Panasonic DP-UB820 menu on Panasonic MZ1500

The Panasonic DP-UB820's software isn't the most dazzling, but it is effective and offers plenty of features. (Image credit: Future)

Panasonic DP-UB820 review: Value

  • Excellent price for the performance and features
  • Solid, reliable and built to work
  • Covers most of the bases extremely well

Quite simply, the Panasonic DP-UB820 is a workhorse. During my time working for a major AV retailer, the UB820 was the Blu-ray player of choice to display demo material across 15 TVs, for eight hours a day, seven days a week, using an HDMI splitter. In the nearly three years I was at that job, the HDMI splitter failed multiple times, while the UB820 simply trucked on doing its job. The UB820 is built to last and will give you years of entertainment. 

Price-wise, the UB820 has an extensive list of features and connectivity, supports a lot of physical sources, picture and audio formats and even has Wi-Fi built-in for streaming all for under $500 in the US, under £300 in the UK and $750 in Australia. Compared to similarly priced players, such as the Sony UBPX800 Mk II, the Panasonic is the total package. 

  • Value 5/5 

Panasonic DP-UB820 showing Top Gun Maverick

The Panasonic DP-UB820 produces excellent textures and sharpness, shown here on Top Gun: Maverick (pictured). (Image credit: Future)

Panasonic DP-UB820 review: Should I buy it?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Panasonic DP-UB820 review: Also consider

How I tested the Panasonic DP-UB820

Panasonic DP-UB820 with Panasonic MZ1500 and Sonos Beam (Gen 2) connected

(Image credit: Future)
  • Multiple sources including 4K and standard Blu-ray, DVD, CD
  • Tested with Panasonic MZ1500 TV
  • Tested over the course of two months

For testing the Panasonic DP-UB820, I connected it to a 55-inch Panasonic MZ1500 OLED TV, which supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+. I then tested the DP-UB820 for picture using 4K Blu-ray, standard Blu-ray, DVD for disc playback and upscaling testing. 

Once I'd chosen the discs, I assessed pictures based on HDR performance including Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and more, and looked at 4K upscaling of non-4K formats such as DVD and Blu-ray.

For sound I tested the UB820 using CD, streaming apps and the same discs to test Dolby Atmos and DTS sound reproduction.

I also tested the software of the DP-UB820 looking at menu navigation, input speed, number of settings and more to see how comprehensive the DP-UB820 was for a mid-range Blu-ray player.

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: one of the best-featured cheap 4K TVs you can buy
2:54 pm | October 5, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED: Two-minute review

The Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED is the latest entry into the Amazon Fire TV market, and unlike the other 2023 Fire TV Omnis, it uses QLED technology in an effort to add extra brightness and detail to the picture compared with the more basic LED-lit 4-series and 2-series. 

Competitively – aggressively, even – priced, the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLEDs offer a big screen size for a smaller price tag compared to most of the best TVs. Launched in April 2023 (for the 65-inch) and June 2023 for all other sizes, prices for the Omni are low enough by default, but are almost certainly a Black Friday 2023 and Amazon Prime Day 2023 deal waiting to happen. 

In terms of picture quality, the Amazon Omni QLED isn’t going to rival the best OLED TVs anytime soon. But, with vivid colors, decent contrast and a surprisingly detailed and natural image with certain movies and TV shows, the Omni QLED’s picture excels for its budget price. There are some backlight blooming issues, and black levels aren’t the best, but at this price it’s hard to argue against. 

Sound quality on the Omni QLED is serviceable as long as you have the sound mode set to Movie. Bass levels are punchy and speech is clear despite its basic 2.0-channel 12w speaker system, but if you’re looking for a big sound, you’ll be better off looking at pairing the Omni QLED with one of the best soundbars.

The Amazon Omni QLED’s design is nice enough, with an attractive silver frame and slim bezel around a slightly chunkier build. Its main downfall is its supplied feet which, whilst feeling solid, are so deep and far apart that people will need to have specific stands or furniture to put the Omni QLED on.

Gaming performance on the Amazon Omni QLED is surprisingly good, as are its features, for a cheaper TV. Whilst not as kitted out as the best gaming TVs, the Omni QLED does offer 4K Dolby Vision gaming, VRR and ALLM on its one HDMI 2.1 port. 120Hz support is all it's missing, but at this price range that’s not a common feature anyway. 

Fire TV is a solid smart TV platform, which can offer recommendations based on your viewing across multiple apps. There aren’t as many picture settings to adjust as other TVs but there are still plenty to tweak. Ambient Experience offers a nice bonus feature that can turn a drab, black screen during standby into a work of art. There are definitely some stutters and stops when navigating Fire TV, but it still offers a lot of options in terms of features.

Value is one of the Amazon Omni QLED's strongest categories, with the features on offer in terms of picture, gaming and smart TV greatly exceeding its budget price. TVs from rivals like Samsung, LG, Hisense and TCL don’t offer the same in terms of overall spec when compared to the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED. As an almost certain inclusion within Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday, we could even see that excellent value increase very soon. 

We used the 65-inch Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED for this review.

Amazon Omni QLED with dusk city landscape on screen

(Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Price and release date

  • Released: April 2023 (65-inch UK/US), June 2023 (43, 50, 55-inch UK/US and 75-inch US only)
  • Price starts from $379/£549 
  • Up to $599/£999 (65-inch) and $899 (75-inch US only) 

The Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED is part of Amazon’s 2023 Fire TV lineup, also featuring the Fire TV 4-series and Fire TV 2-series. The Amazon Omni QLED range is only available in the US and UK, and there is no official word on an Australian release at the time of writing.

The 65-inch was released first in April 2023 with prices at that time being $799/£999. In June 2023, the rest of the range was released with prices being $449/£549 for the 43-inch, $529/£649 for the 50-inch and $599/£749 for the 55-inch. The 75-inch model, priced at $1,099 at time of release, was only available in the US at the time of writing.

A few months on, and prices have dropped. At the time of writing in the US, the Omni QLED starts from $379 for the 43-inch to a very competitive $899 for the 75-inch. The 65-inch, featured in this review, currently sits at an incredibly affordable $589. The pricing for the Amazon Omni QLED is always changing and we expect this to be the case on Amazon Prime Day 2023 and Black Friday 2023, with some excellent discounts to be had. So if prices go back up again, be sure they will come back down.

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Specs

Amazon Omni QLED Ambient Experience on display showing flowers on screen

Ambient Experience (pictured) on the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Features

  • 4K QLED panel 
  • Ambient Experience 
  • Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive HDR support 

The Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED doesn’t have the connections a lot of more premium TVs offer, but for a budget TV it does come with a surprising amount of features packed into it.

The Omni QLED features a QLED display with full array local dimming in sizes 50-inch and up, while the 43-inch has direct LED backlighting (but no local dimming). In terms of HDR support, the Omni QLED features Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive, both of which analyze the viewing environment to adapt picture quality. 

When it comes to gaming features, the Amazon Omni QLED doesn’t support 120Hz gaming, but it does support Dolby Vision gaming, VRR and ALLM, all of which are welcome additions for a TV priced like the Amazon Omni QLED. However, its one HDMI 2.1 port is also its eARC port for connecting to a soundbar.

Fire TV is the Amazon Omni QLED's smart TV platform, and offers plenty of options in terms of recommendations and customization. If you log in with your Amazon account, you can track what you’ve been watching as well as your most recently used apps, and Amazon will make recommendations based on your viewing and show the top trending videos.

Two other features integrated within Omni QLED are Ambient Experience and hands-free Alexa voice control. The Ambient Experience uses the premise of Samsung’s Art Mode from its Frame TVs (where artwork is displayed when the TV is in standby as opposed to a blank screen) but can also show time and date, smart widgets such as weather, and also play music and podcasts in the background. Hands-free Alexa voice control, once enabled, allows navigation of the Fire TV menus without any need for touching the remote.

  • Features score: 4/5 

Amazon Omni QLED with Top Gun Maverick on screen

Facial details are surprisingly accurate on the Omni QLED, as shown on Top Gun: Maverick (pictured)  (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Picture quality

  • Colors are surprisingly good 
  • Average black levels 
  • Natural-looking image 

For a budget TV, the Amazon Omni QLED delivers respectable brightness levels that are similar to last year’s Samsung Q60B, another entry-level QLED set. I measured the Omni QLED at HDR peak brightness of 531 nits in Standard picture mode, and 402 nits in Movie Dark mode on a 10% window when tested. Although there is a Movie Bright mode that would have no doubt yielded a higher brightness result, the Movie Dark mode was the most accurate picture preset, and displayed the best picture on the Omni QLED. For a QLED screen, these results were a little dimmer than I might like, but as I mentioned, they're comparable to other budget options.

When measuring the Delta-E values (the margin of error between an accurate test pattern source and what’s shown on screen), we typically look for the average result to be under 3, since this is considered indistinguishable from perfect to most people. When measuring grayscale results (to test how it handles different levels of darkness) in Movie Dark mode, the result was 4.3, so a little disappointing – but this is somewhat expected with an LED screen. However, in terms of color accuracy, the Omni QLED’s Delta-E average was 1.99, which is an excellent result especially for a TV at this level. It’s worth noting adjustments in picture can be made to improve those numbers, but these were the out-of-the-box results. 

I measured coverage of the DCI-P3 color range (used for mastering 4K movies and digital cinema releases) at 97.3% and BT.2020 at 74.3%. These are very good results again, and definitely rival some of the other best 4K TVs available. 

Despite these mostly positive results, there's one clear weakness to its pictures: standard definition content. It had a muddy, fuzzy look to it. HD and 4K pictures are strong, as I'll come to in a moment, whether that's in HDR or SDR. But especially on this 65-inch model, low-resolution viewing wasn't a great experience.

When testing 4K content with Dolby Vision next, I used several scenes from various Star Wars movies streamed through Disney Plus. Switching between the TV’s Dolby Vision picture modes, Dolby Vision IQ did a good job of adapting the picture to suit the different lighting conditions that could be set in the testing room, but again I found the dark preset (Dolby Vision Dark) to be the best for quality. Despite the lack of any anti-glare screen coating, the Omni QLED also did an adequate job in regards to reflections, reducing the visibility of harsh overhead lighting effectively. 

During the throne room fight in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the colors were dynamic and punchy, and the Omni QLED displayed the predominantly red color well without making it looking overblown. Whilst contrast levels were decent, any black within the scene did take on a dark-gray tone, showcasing the shortcomings of the QLED screen’s full-array local dimming compared to mini-LED or OLED TVs.

HDR demo video on the Spears & Munsil UHD Benchmark disc showed that in brighter nature scenes, color again was accurate. Images had a surprisingly natural quality to them as well, with good texture to animals and landscapes. During some of the night scenes, particularly of a city, contrast levels were good overall but again the black levels weren't that deep, and there was some backlight blooming from light to dark areas, especially in scenes where the night sky took up a lot of the screen. 

When it comes to motion, the Omni QLED did a great job of processing Top Gun: Maverick's jets in full flight, cleanly capturing fast panning shots and extreme changes in motion. There was the odd judder, but after changing motions settings to off or low – some motion processing can still be helpful with the Omni's 60Hz panel – this improved. It was also here that I noted just how detailed people looked on the Omni QLED, with a close up shot of Maverick’s face showcasing surprising deep levels of detail.

The Omni QLED may not have the best picture on the market, but considering its price range, I was surprised with just how detailed and vivid its picture was and how well it punches above its weight.

  • Picture quality score: 4/5

Amazon Omni QLED with Star Wars The Last Jedi on screen

Movies like Star Wars: The Last Jedi (pictured) will sound okay on the Omni QLED's built-in speakers, but only okay. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Sound quality

  • Clean, direct sound in Movie mode
  • Decent speech levels
  • No Dolby Atmos support

With a 2.0-channel speaker system, the Amazon Omni QLED's sound isn’t going to set the world alight. In Standard mode, audio quality is a bit thin with very little bass and treble, as demonstrated in the opening scene of Top Gun: Maverick, where opening track music lacked any sort of drive. 

However, changing the sound mode to Movie completely altered the dynamic of the Omni QLED’s sound. Bass levels were elevated and the rumble of the engines from the jets in Top Gun: Maverick was much more powerful and direct. Speech levels were also surprisingly clear, with dialogue being audible even during moments where characters spoke through a crackling radio. 

Yes, there’s no Dolby Atmos support but it seems that Amazon’s intention was to create a powerful built-in TV sound that was direct and clear, and to an extent they have succeeded. Dolby Atmos would be nice but it’s not something you necessarily find in TVs of the Omni QLED’s price range.

The built-in TV speakers should suit most people and situations but if you are looking for a bolder sound, it may well be worth considering a soundbar just to add that extra level of depth.

  •  Sound quality score: 3.5/5 

Feet of the Amazon Omni QLED TV 65-inch

The Fire TV Omni's feet are very deep, even by 65-inch TV standards. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Design

  •  Attractive, gray steel frame 
  •  Deep feet supplied with TV 
  •  Fire TV Alexa remote 

The Amazon Omni QLED features an attractive steel-look frame in a silver, metallic finish. At 8.4cm, it isn’t the slimmest TV, especially in comparison to Samsung’s ultra-slim LCD TVs which sit in a similar price range. However, the trim of the screen itself is minimal, meaning you get a nice screen-filling picture.

One of the most noticeable design features, and one that could be a drawback for some people, are the feet provided with the Amazon Omni QLED. Although they are fairly sturdy, they are a little deeper than your average TV stand/feet. This could be an issue for some TV stands and other furniture. The Ikea TV stand we used for testing just about fit the 65-inch Omni QLED’s feet (as shown in above pic) – we've had the 65-inch LG G3 on here with no worries about it fitting. 

The remote supplied with the Omni QLED is the Fire TV Alexa remote. Slim and small in nature, the remote is compact and feels light. Simply by pushing the blue button at the top, you can access Alexa voice control if you don’t wish to use the hands-free option.

  • Design score: 3.5/5

Amazon Fire TV home menu on Omni QLED

The Amazon Omni QLED uses Fire TV as its smart TV platform.  (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Smart TV and menus

  •  Fire TV smart TV platform 
  •  Extensive recommendations 
  •  Slightly clunky navigation 

The Amazon Omni QLED comes with the Fire TV smart TV platform, unsurprisingly. Offering a wealth of recommendations, Fire TV tracks your viewing habits to tailor these based on genre and across multiple streaming sites. Logging in with your Amazon account further adds to what you’ll get in terms of suggestions, customization of menus and more.

One of the most recent additions to Fire TV is a feature called Ambient Experience. Reminiscent of the Art Mode feature found on Samsung’s Frame TVs, Ambient Experience will display artworks or your own photos on screen when the TV is in standby mode. You can also display other widgets such as weather, smart home features, music and more. Speaking of music, you can even play music in the background whilst Ambient Experience is on.

In terms of menus, the main Fire TV menu is easy enough to navigate through but changing settings such as picture mode, input and so on is not as easy compared to other smart TV platforms. To access these settings, you have to hold down the home button rather than a settings button, which definitely slows down the process. 

One thing I did find during testing was that, although easy to navigate, Fire TV felt clunky at times. There were often frequent pauses and stutters when accessing apps, changing settings and browsing through menus, which hindered the experience a little, although thankfully these stutters weren’t common. 

Another feature of the Omni QLED is the Alexa voice control which can be accessed via the remote or, if enabled, via the Omni QLED's built-in mic for hands-free voice control. Alexa functioned well when it came to navigating Fire TV and when issued with the command to find a particular movie, it would find that movie on all possible sites, allowing for user choice.

  • Smart TV and menus score: 3.5/5

Amazon Omni QLED with Battlefield V on display

Graphics of Battlefield V (pictured) look good on the Amazon Omni QLED. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Gaming

  •  Dolby Vision gaming support 
  •  No 120Hz HDMI 2.1 support 
  •  Low 10.4ms input lag 

In terms of gaming features and performance, the Amazon Omni QLED delivers surprising results. The Omni QLED offers a decent picture with enough detail to make it a real viable budget gaming TV. During a night mission on Battlefield V, played through an Xbox Series X, landscapes looked natural and the weapon on screen had plenty of detail within it. Sadly, the night mission did showcase more of the slightly lacking black levels within the Omni QLED’s picture. 

With Game mode switched on, the Omni QLED processed intense moments well. Switching between targets and motion processing felt smooth, with changes from sections of calm into action feeling seamless. This is in part thanks to the Omni QLED's very low input lag time. Using the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester, the Omni QLED yielded a result of 10.4ms, which is an excellent result for a TV at this price and even rivals some of the best 120Hz TVs

Another welcome addition is the inclusion of gaming features like 4K Dolby Vision gaming support,and even VRR and ALLM, which are not always included on TVs within this price range. The Omni QLED offers multiple Dolby Vision game picture modes as well to give more choice to players on how they want their HDR to look in compatible games on the Xbox Series X.

The Omni QLED may not be the most comprehensive gaming TV, with no 120Hz support on any of its HDMI ports, but it’s hard to argue against what it does offer for gamers at such a budget price.

  • Gaming score: 4/5

Amazon Fire TV Alexa remote

The Omni QLED is supplied with the Amazon Alexa remote. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Value

  •  Very competitively priced 
  •  Well stocked with features compared to similar TVs 
  •  Frequently on sale

Value is where the Amazon Omni QLED range really shines. Priced at the time of writing at $599/£999 for the 65-inch model, it is an extremely competitive TV. At $599 in the US, you are getting good picture quality, Dolby Vision support, great gaming performance and an intuitive smart TV platform at a large 65-inch size. Although not as budget friendly in the UK as it is in the US, the features you get in the Omni QLED still make it a very competitively priced TV compared to ones from rivals such as Samsung and LG.

Another advantage with the Amazon Omni QLED being an Amazon product means it is a regular feature during seasonal discount events such as Black Friday, or on Amazon Prime Day. This means that the already well-priced Omni QLED will most likely end up being even cheaper during sales season.

It may not have the picture quality and full features of a more premium TV, and sometimes the budget nature of the Omni QLED shows via its sometimes lacking black levels, average sound quality, and slightly clunky software, but what you do get makes this TV a real bargain.

  • Value score: 4.5/5

Amazon Omni QLED with demo content of mountain on screen

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Also consider

How I tested the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED

Amazon Omni QLED with testing equipment attached

The Amazon Omni QLED in the process of testing, with our equipment. (Image credit: Future)
  • Tested in our lab room with varying lighting conditions
  • Measurements taken using Portrait Displays' Calman software
  • Tested through a variety of sources, both SDR and HDR

When testing the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED, I first viewed several different sources such as SDR and HDR movies and TV shows through 4K Blu-ray, streaming and live TV via antenna. I also tested video game performance using an Xbox Series X. Whilst doing this, I tested the out-of-the-box picture presets to determine which was best.

After some running-in time, I then took measurements of the Amazon Omni QLED using Portrait Displays' Calman calibration software. I used this to measure and record the Omni QLED's SDR and HDR peak brightness levels on a 10% and 100% window. Alongside this, I measured the Delta E averages (the margin of error between a test pattern and what's shown on screen) for grayscale, color accuracy and gamma. Test patterns were made using the Murideo Seven 8K test pattern generator.

As well as these tests, I also measured  DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space coverage. This demonstrates how faithfully a TV can render extended color space from UHD sources. Finally, I used the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester to measure the input lag of the TV while it was in its Game mode. 

  • First reviewed: October 2023
LG B3 review: LG’s cheapest OLED TV packs a lot of performance
3:00 pm | October 1, 2023

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LG B3: Two-minute review

The LG B3 continues a trend that LG has followed for years by providing a great-quality, more affordable OLED TV choice. Upon its release in April 2023, the LG B3 was not the best value set on the market, being roughly $100 cheaper than the step-up entry in LG’s 2023 OLED range, the LG C3, but with clear reduction in features and performance. Since then, B3 prices have dropped to a more reasonable level, putting space between it and more mid-range OLEDs.

Although the LG B3 does not feature the Micro Lens Array tech adopted by the LG G3, or even the Evo panel in the LG C3, its picture quality is nothing short of superb – something you’d expect from an OLED TV. Vibrant colors, deep black levels and great contrast mean the B3 has a picture that surprisingly rivals the C3 and even holds its own against the G3, which is one of the best TVs available in 2023. 

Sound quality is one of the weaker parts of the LG B3. The 2.0 speaker system doesn’t create the same quality sound to match the excellent picture quality even on Cinema Mode, which gives decent enough audio performance. This is a TV that  could almost benefit from a sound upgrade via one of the best soundbars

Gaming performance is another area where LG’s entry-level OLED TV shines. Thanks to excellent picture quality, smooth motion processing and an extremely useful Game Optimizer feature, the B3 is certainly a TV that gamers should consider if they want OLED gaming on a budget. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t come with HDMI 2.1 across all four HDMI ports. 

For smart TV software, the LG B3 uses webOS 23, which has seen an upgrade from last year’s webOS 22. The result is a neater home menu, more customization options and a Quick Cards feature that allows for quicker and easier navigation of apps if you need. 

When it comes to design, the LG B3 has a sleek design with an extremely slim bezel  for an “all-picture” look. Unfortunately, the stand supplied with the B3, although a nice color, is made of a cheap-feeling plastic material when other TVs like the C3 come with a more substantial stand. 

The LG B3 may not have the features and picture brightness of TVs like the LG G3 or Samsung S95C, but it’s hard to argue against what it does provide for its current price. Although other TVs may offer better sound, such as the Sony A80L or Samsung S90C, or more extensive gaming features, such as the LG C3, the B3 lets people experience OLED on a smaller budget and could certainly be one of the best 4K TVs released in 2023.

For this review, I tested the 55-inch version of the LG B3.

LG B3 TV with green butterfly on screen

Detail levels on the LG B3 rival TVs much more premium than it (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Prices and release date

  •  Released April 2023 
  •  From $1,299/£1,199/AU$3,145 for the 55-inch 
  •  Up to $2,199/£3,099/$AU6,495 for the 77-inch  

The LG B3 is the most widely available entry-level TV in LG’s OLED range (with the A3 not available in several major territories). At the time of its release in April 2023, prices ranged from $1,699/£1,799/$AU3,415 for the 55-inch, $2,399/£2,699/AU$4,095 for the 65-inch and $3,299/£3,799/AU$6,495 for the 77-inch. Sadly, this meant that the B3 was only on average $100 less than the more premium LG C3, leaving people without a real ‘entry-level’ option.

Thankfully at the time of writing, several months after release, prices for the LG B3 have dropped and currently sit around $1,299 for the 55-inch, $1,499 for the 65-inch and $2,199 for the 77-inch, which puts it at a much more competitive price with other entry-level OLEDs like the Sony A80L.  (It’s worth noting that in the UK and Australia, the price for the 77-inch is significantly higher at £3,099/$AU6,495.)

LG B3 review: Specs

LG B3 TV with peacock feather on screen

Contrast is impressive on the B3 (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Features

  •  Alpha 7 Gen6 processor 
  •  Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support 
  •  Two HDMI 2.1 ports for gaming  

The LG B3 may not be as well kitted out as LG's higher-end C3 and G3 models, but it does still carry a lot of the same features that those TVs do.

As other OLED TVs evolve, the LG B3 still features a standard white-OLED (W-OLED) panel as opposed to the C3’s Evo panel, which adds to the overall brightness. The G3 also features micro-lens-array technology to further enhance the brightness up to 70%. The LG B3 does however support Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG formats, but like all LG TVs doesn't support HDR10+. 

For gaming, the LG B3 has two HDMI 2.1 ports with support for 120Hz Dolby Vision gaming, VRR, ALLM, Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync. It also has the same Game Optimizer and game bar featured in the C3 and G3. although its Alpha 7 Gen6 processor won't be as powerful as the Alpha 9 Gen6 processor found in the C3 and G3, the B3 is still packing some very good performance for both movies and gaming. 

The B3 features a 2.0 audio system and Dolby Atmos support, though without height speakers it can’t  deliver Dolby Atmos effects at their full potential. While its speaker system isn’t as comprehensive as the ones in the C3 and G3, the B3 still supports a lot of the same audio features such as LG Sound Sync and AI Sound Pro sound mode to upmix sound to 5.1.2 when selected.

The LG B3 also comes installed with LG’s latest smart software, web OS23. One of the biggest updates to webOS23 is the addition of a Quick Cards system, which sorts apps into different categories such as Movies, Sport, Music and so on. These can be customized to allow for quicker navigation of your most used apps. The home menu has also been slimmed down to two pages as opposed to the four found in last year’s web OS22 and features less intrusive ads and recommendations.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

LG B3 TV with Star Wars Ahsoka on screen

Textures and details like skin look natural and life-like on the B3 (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Picture quality

  •  Punchy and vibrant color 
  •  Natural quality to picture  
  •  Great black levels  

Starting with some numbers, the LG B3’s peak HDR brightness measured on a 10% window hit 619 nits in Filmmaker mode and 649 nits in Standard mode. That’s an improvement on its predecessor the LG B2 but lower than the LG C3 which we measured at 830 nits in Filmmaker mode, though this is to be expected given the C3’s brighter Evo panel. On a full 100% window, the B3 hit 133 nits in Filmmaker mode, which is a respectable result considering its peak brightness. 

Measured again using HDR Filmmaker picture mode, the LG B3’s average color Delta-E was around 1.3, which is a surprisingly fantastic result. (The Delta-E value indicates the difference between a test pattern and what is actually shown on the TV’s screen, with a number below three considered to be an undetectable margin of error.) Average grayscale Delta-E values came to 1.4, which is another excellent result. DCI-P3 coverage (which is the color space used to master 4K movies and digital cinema releases) was measured at 98% and BT.2020 was 73.14%, both of which are great results and actually match  the more premium LG G3. 

When I tested it in our lab, I expected the LG B3 to struggle with the harsh overhead lights in terms of reflections as it uses a standard W-OLED panel and not the MLA technology or Evo panel in the LG G3 or LG C3. Although there were some reflections in darker scenes, I was surprised to find the B3 fared better than expected and my general viewing experience wasn’t too badly hindered. 

Testing the out-of-the-box preset picture modes, the LG B3 had a brilliant picture. When first viewing in Standard mode, colors were dynamic and punchy and stood out on the screen. There was also a good deal of brightness to rival the effect of the overhead lights in our testing lab. Black levels and shadows weren’t quite as well-defined but were still good. However, once I settled on Filmmaker mode, the overall picture quality improved, with deeper black levels and a more natural look, whilst still maintaining punchy colors. 

First watching scenes from John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2, both of which are set in a nightclub, the pulsing colors of the lights were vibrant and contrasted well with the shadows within the scene when the lights flashed off. Blacks were deep but still had great levels of detail. This was especially obvious in Wick’s black suit, the textures of which you could see despite the overall dark scene. 

To test Dolby Vision when watching in the B3’s Dolby Vision Cinema Home picture mode, I watched some scenes from Star Wars: Ahsoka. Contrast here was again impressive, with lightsabers almost jumping out of the screen against the darker backgrounds, regardless of color. The most noticeable thing when watching Ahsoka was just how natural and true-to-life textures and skin tones looked. 

For motion testing, I used the opening scene from John Wick: Chapter 2 where John Wick pursues a motorcycle. During the chase, Wick’s car drifts around a corner and the camera quickly swipes from left to right. The B3 did a great job of processing this fast-paced scene, with the quick, panning shots looking fluid as the car and motorcycle weaved in and around traffic. 

Using the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark Blu-ray to test professional demonstration content, the B3 did a remarkable job. Night scenes within cities looked crisp, with the lights of the skyscrapers standing out from the black backgrounds. Colors were also dynamic within scenes of nature, with bright blue skies seeming natural against the rocky landscape below. One thing that became apparent however was that the B3 did impart a cooler color bias during snow demo scenes, with the white taking on a blue-ish tint. But this didn’t detract too much from the superb quality of the picture and it can be adjusted for in picture settings. 

  • Picture Quality score: 4.5/5

LG B3 OLED with music menu on screen

The music Quick Card - part of webOS 23, though music won't sound the best on the B3's lacking sound system  (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Sound quality

  •  2.0 speaker system  
  •  Decent bass levels 
  •  Speech lacking a bit overall 

The LG B3 features a 2.0 speaker setup outputting 20W of power per channel, with support for Dolby Atmos. With no upward-firing speakers, LG uses its AI Sound Pro sound mode to upmix the 2.0 configuration to a 5.1.2 output in order to try and get the best out of the B3's speakers. 

In Standard sound mode, bass levels were good but sadly everything else was lacking. Speech in particular was a bit lost in the overall mix, with trebles sounding a little scratchy and brash at times. Dolby Atmos effects within this mode were almost non-existent. However, when changed to Cinema sound mode the overall sound was definitely improved, with bass, treble and mid levels being balanced to create a better overall sound. Speech was still a little lacking, but greatly improved from Standard mode. 

As mentioned above, the B3 does feature an AI Sound Pro feature that will upmix the sound to 5.1.2 configuration and although through it Dolby Atmos effects were more apparent and treble and speech levels slightly enhanced, bass took a massive hit. Playing Top Gun: Maverick through both Cinema and AI Sound Pro, I found the most balanced overall sound to be through Cinema, as the rumble I expected from the jet engines was lost in AI Sound Pro. 

The B3's sound quality is probably one of its weakest parts. Although it has better built-in sound than a lot of other TVs, the B3 is definitely lacking compared to other OLED sets like the LG C3, Sony A80L and Samsung S90C. Admittedly, these TVs cost more for better built-in sound, so it might be worth investing in a soundbar with the money you would save.

  •  Sound Quality score: 3.5/5 

LG B3 TV stand

The LG B3's stand looks nice but sadly is a bit cheap feeling  (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Design

  •  Slim, attractive bezel  
  •  Nice-looking but cheap-feeling stand 
  •  LG Magic Remote supplied  

The B3 features a surprisingly thin profile and a slim bezel at the top of its screen, running to about halfway down. However, the bottom half of the TV does bulk out and although this is noticeable from the back and sides, it doesn’t stop the TV from having an attractive design when viewed from the front.  

LG designed the B3 to primarily be on a stand, which is centrally located on the TV. With a dark gray finish, its design is simple yet effective. Unfortunately, compared to its more premium models like the C3 and G3, the stand is a plastic material as opposed to metal. This makes it feel a little cheaper and with the B3 priced as it is (which is mentioned above) this is a real shame. However, unlike the G3, the B3 does come supplied with its stand.

LG’s Magic Remote that’s supplied with the B3 is as great as ever. It has a nice balance and solid quality to it, with plenty of app shortcut buttons and an easy-to-follow button layout. The central wheel is a nice way to navigate menus and the pointer allows you to explore screens without having to press arrows, but you may take some time getting the hang of this.

  •  Design score: 4/5 

LG B3 with Quick Card menu on screen

The LG Quick Card menu which can be edited to suit your needs (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Smart TV and menus

  •  webOS 23 re-design for tidier home menu
  •  Quick Cards feature categorizes apps
  •  No hands-free voice control like the LG C3 and G3 

The LG B3 comes installed with the latest iteration of LG’s own smart software, webOS 23. This has been streamlined compared to last year's software, webOS 22, by limiting the amount of ads and recommendations on its home page, making for a much neater look. 

Quick Cards are probably the biggest feature introduced on webOS 23’s menu system, with the ability to categorize apps by genre such as Music, Game, Movie and so on, meaning you can easily navigate to the type of apps you like. There are plenty of customization options as well, enabling you to organize your apps into these Quick Cards as you see fit. 

The Quick Menus featured in webOS 23 are also a welcome inclusion. Pressing the gear icon on the remote will bring up a pop-up menu in the corner of the screen that enables you to quickly change settings like picture mode, sleep timer, OLED pixel brightness and so on. 

Thanks to the B3’s Alpha 7 Gen6 processor, navigating the smart TV software and menus feels seamless and easy, with no pauses or stuttering. The B3 does feature voice control capabilities while pressing the mic button on the remote, but not the new hands-free voice control found in the C3 and G3.

  •  Smart TV and menus score: 4.5/5 

LG B3 with game menu and battlefield v on display

The LG B3 comes with LG's Game Optimizer and menu, which tailors the gaming experience depending on what you're playing (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Gaming

  •  4K, Dolby Vision gaming support 
  •  Game Optimizer mode for better gaming performance 
  •  Only two HDMI 2.1 ports 

Much like the other OLEDs available in LGs’ 2023 range, the B3 comes with a great selection of gaming features, including 4K 120Hz Dolby Vision support, VRR, ALLM, AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync capabilities and a Game optimizer mode to get the best settings for your gaming experience. 

Using the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester measuring at 60Hz, the LG B3 yielded a respectable result of 12.6ms. However, when turning on its Boost mode, found in the Game Optimizer, the result improved to 9.2ms, which is not only an excellent result but the same as I measured in the higher-end LG G3.  

The LG B3 does an excellent job in terms of gaming performance. Playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, with Game Optimizer mode turned on to remove any annoying picture settings like judder reduction that would hinder the game, the B3 handled graphically intense moments well. During an ambush mission in a forest, quick targeting was made easy and wide, with panning shots from one side of the screen to the other feeling seamless. 

With the Game Menu in webOS 23, there were plenty of settings to tweak to get the best possible picture including black level and even a game genre setting, which when I switched it to First-Person Shooter (FPS) automatically adjusted colors and motion settings to suit Battlefield V. After doing this, details within the picture were crisp, colors were vivid and black levels and shadow detail were superb. 

Despite brilliant overall gaming performance, the LG B3 sadly does only come with two HDMI 2.1 ports, as opposed to the four you would find on some of the best gaming TVs. Those with both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and a soundbar they hope to run through eARC (one of the two HDMI 2.1 ports) may have to seek out alternative options like the LG C3 or Samsung S90C for example. However, looking past this, the LG B3 still offers excellent gaming features and performance. 

  •  Gaming score: 4.5/5 

LG Magic Remote on brown TV stand

The LG B3 comes with LG's Magic Remote  (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Value

  •  Cheaper alternative to the LG C3 
  •  Picture quality comparable to higher-end sets 
  •  Fairly priced after discounts for what features you get 

As the most widely available ‘entry-level’ OLED in LG’s range, the B3 wasn’t going to offer as many features in terms of gaming and performance as its more premium counterparts, the C3 and G3, which meant that it needed to hit a good price for those looking for a good value OLED.

At the time of its release in April 2023, the B3 was only roughly $100 cheaper than the LG C3, which comes with the superior Alpha 9 Gen 6 processor, brighter Evo panel and four HDMI 2.1 ports, meaning the B3 did not provide this cheaper alternative that should have been offered.

However, since its release, the LG B3 has seen fairly large discounts and now sits roughly $200-300 cheaper than the C3, which is a much more reasonable price and enables people to think about any soundbars or accessories they could get with the B3 with the money saved. It is worth noting, however, that at the time of writing there is quite a large disparity in prices between the US and other territories for the 77-inch model, with it being much better value in the US. 

Although there is some disparity in prices, it’s hard to argue against the B3 in terms of value, as you are getting a fantastic performing OLED TV with picture quality that in many ways rivals its more premium counterparts, for a now more reduced price.

  • Value score: 4.5/5  

LG B3 with bright image of hot spring on screen

The B3 has vibrant colors that rival some higher-end sets (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the LG B3

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

HP Omen laptop displaying Calman Portrait Displays calibration software hooked up to Murideo 8K test pattern generator

Testing equipment we use for our tests from Murideo and Calman - in this instance connected to the Panasonic MZ2000 (Image credit: Future)

How I tested the LG B3

  • Tested in our lab room with varying lighting conditions
  • Measurements taken using Portrait Display's Calman software
  • Tested through a variety of sources, both SDR and HDR

After running in the TV for a couple of days, displaying SDR content from live TV, I tested various picture modes on the LG B3 including Standard, Cinema, and Filmmaker mode through a variety of SDR and HDR sources from 4K Blu-rays to streaming and also through an Xbox Series X.

After choosing the best picture mode, Filmmaker, I tested the LG B3's picture thoroughly using Disney Plus for 4K Dolby Vision HDR content, the Xbox Series X for gaming, 4K Blu-ray for HDR content and SDR content through live tv and Full HD on ITVX and BBC iPlayer.  

When it came time to take measurements of the B3, I used Portrait Displays’ Calman calibration software. Using this, I measured peak brightness on a 10% window and 100% window in both SDR and HDR. I then recorded the Delta-E values (which demonstrates the margin of error between the test pattern and what is displayed) for color accuracy, grayscale and gamma again using Calman. I then measured the color space looking at DCI-P3 and BT.2020 coverage. For all tests, I used the Murideo Seven 8K test pattern generator.

Finally, to measure input lag for gaming, I used the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester.

LG G3 OLED review: LG’s brightest OLED TV ever delivers elite pictures
5:46 pm | September 22, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

LG G3: Two-minute review

The LG G3 is the latest flagship OLED TV from the company that has put OLED on the map more than any other. The G3 is another landmark set, though, taking brightness to a new level for LG, and besting what’s come before in many ways.

The LG G3 is priced like a premium flagship TV too, though its price has dropped somewhat since its launch in March 2023 – though the Samsung S95C is a similarly specified TV that’s available for less at the time of writing (though the two will battle this out in price drops, no doubt). With the G3 ranging in sizes from 55-inch to 83-inch (although the 83-inch has a less-bright panel so will perform differently), there’s an option for nearly all home theater lovers, although if you need smaller you can always look at the LG C3, which also ranks among the best OLED TVs.

With the introduction of Micro Lens Array (MLA) technology to improve brightness in its already fantastic OLED Evo panel, plus a new generation of image processor, the G3’s picture quality is phenomenal. Vibrant colors and crisp textures work in harmony with deep blacks and dynamic contrast, making the picture of the G3 nothing short of sensational – at the very top of what you can get from the world’s best TVs.

Although built-in sound in the G3 is decent, with a surprising amount of bass in some sound modes and clear dialogue generally, the LG G3 could benefit from one of the best soundbars to match the excellent quality of its picture. If stronger built-in audio quality is essential to you, you may want to look at TVs such as the Sony A80L and even the Samsung S90C.

As far as gaming goes, the LG G3 is a paradise. With extensive gaming features and compatibility including 4K 120Hz support on all four 2.1 HDMI ports, Dolby Vision gaming at 120Hz, VRR, and ALLM, this is as well-specced as it gets for games. Put all this with an intuitive Game Dashboard menu and extremely useful Game Optimizer picture mode, and it’s hard to fault. 

LGs smart TV platform, webOS 23, is intuitive and more streamlined than last year’s software, webOS 22, and offers you greater customization options in terms of categorizing apps via its Quick Card option and also tailors recommendations on what you want to look for. Thankfully, webOS 23 has also toned down the amount of recommendations compared to last year as well, because they were a little overwhelming.

In terms of design, the G3 is a stunning TV, with a sleek, bezel-less build that looks elegant when mounted on a wall. Still, though, it’s extremely frustrating that for people who want to put this TV on a stand, a desktop stand is not included and will cost you extra – it only comes with a special gap-free wall-mount.

If you’re looking for a TV to suit any situation including gaming, movie marathons or daytime viewing, with image quality that’s as good as anything else on the market, the LG G3 is definitely one of your top choices. There are cheaper high-quality OLEDs out there, such the LG C3 or Sony A80L, but they sacrifice brightness or other features compared to the G3. The biggest competitor is the Samsung S95C, which we rate slightly higher due to its better sound and great external connections box, creating slightly better value overall – but the G3 should definitely be one of your options if you’re looking to buy one of the best 4K TVs available today.

For this review, we tested the 65-inch version of the LG G3. 

LG G3 with mountainous landscape on screen

The LG G3 looks stunning with Dolby Vision content and shines with landscape shots  (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: price and release date

  •  Released in March 2023 
  •  From $2,099 / £1,999 / AU$4,195 (55-inch)
  •  Up to $5,799 / £5,999 / AU$10,995 for the 83-inch 

The G3 is one of LG’s most elite OLEDs, sitting only below the LG M3 and its wild wireless tech, and the 8K Z3 series. At the time of its release in March 2023, pricing for the G3 started from $2,099 / £1,999 / AU$4,195 for the 55-inch version, $2,799 / £2,699 / AU$5,295 for the 65-inch, $3999 / £4,299 / AU$8,395 for the 77-inch and  $5,799 / £5,999 / AU$10,995 for the 83-inch version. This was competitively priced with its closest competitor, the Samsung S95C. 

At the time of writing, several months after release, prices for the LG G3 have dropped but it still remains well into the higher end of the OLED market. However, expensive as it may be, compared to similarly specced TVs such as the Samsung S95C or Sony A95L, the G3’s price remains competitive.  

LG G3 review: Specs

Rear of LG G3 showing connections and ports

The LG G3 has a lot of connectivity options, including four 2.1 HDMI ports (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Features

  •  Micro Lens Array (MLA) OLED Evo panel  
  •  Alpha 9 Gen6 processor 
  •  4K 120Hz with Dolby Vision support for gaming 

OLED technology continues to evolve, and the LG G3 features what LG refers to as Brightness Booster Max; a light-boosting technology that LG claims makes the G3 70% brighter than previous generation OLEDs. 

The key bit of technology in LG G3 to achieve this is Micro Lens Array (MLA) technology, which is a layer of microscopic lenses that sit in a layer above the OLED panel and enable much more of the light from the panel to reach your eyes. Absent from the more affordable LG C3, this MLA tech makes the G3 stand out in LG’s line-up. The LG G3 supports Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG HDR formats, but as with all LG TVs, it doesn’t support HDR10+.

In terms of gaming features, the LG G3 covers a lot of bases, with Dolby Vision gaming support, four HDMI 2.1 ports rated for 4K 120Hz, with VRR including AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, ALLM and HGiG compatibility. Coupled with the Alpha 9 Gen6 processor, the G3 is packing some serious performance for gaming and picture processing.

The 4.2-channel speaker system, with Dolby Atmos and DTS compatibility, aims to improve on the audio performance of other OLEDs in order to attain a sound that can complement the picture on screen. 

The overhauled smart TV software, webOS 23, has access to all the major apps including Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video and Apple TV Plus to name a few. A new Quick Cards system in the home screen categorizes apps by genre such as Sport, Music and so on, and its main home menu has had ads and recommendations reduced, allowing the webOS 23 home screen to fit over two pages as opposed to the four it was spread over last year, leading to a neater-looking homepage.

  • Features score: 5/5

LG G3 with John Wick on screen

Contrast is brilliant and people look natural, as shown here in John Wick: Chapter 2. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Picture quality

  •  Brilliant brightness levels 
  •  Detailed and natural image 
  •  Deep black levels 

Let’s start with some numbers: with the LG G3 in Filmmaker HDR mode, we measured peak brightness at an impressive 1,449 nits on a 10% window, which actually tops the Samsung S95C’s 1,400 nits, making this marginally the brightest OLED we’ve measured so far. It hit a respectable 219 nits on a full 100% window, but that’s notably lower than the 265 nits we measured for the S95C.

LG suggested the G3 would have a 70% brightness increase on previous generations of its OLED TVs, and with these numbers, we can confirm it. Last year’s LG G2, measured in the bright Vivid mode in our review, hit 1,000 nits in a 10% window and the LG C3, in the same Filmmaker mode as the G3, hit just over half the G3’s result with 830 nits. The G3’s MLA panel has certainly boosted the peak brightness by a substantial amount.

During this test, I used the 65-inch G3 and it’s worth noting that the 83-inch G3 does not include MLA, so is likely to perform closer to the LG G2’s results for brightness, although we have yet to confirm this for ourselves. 

In Filmmaker HDR mode again, the LG yielded some great results with its color accuracy, delivering an average Delta-E value of just under three. This demonstrates the difference between a color test pattern and what’s shown on screen, and we’re happy that anything under three is accurate enough for TV viewing. DCI-P3 coverage (the color space used for mastering 4K Blu-rays and digital cinema releases) was 98% and BT.2020 was 73.8%, both of which are very good results. Grayscale Delta-E values, testing black levels and contrast accuracy, averaged around 1.9, which is another excellent result. 

One thing I noticed straight away was how well the G3, with its MLA panel and anti-glare screen, made easy work of the testing room’s bright, overhead lights and spotlights when we pushed them high to see how it fared. Only the reflection of some awkwardly placed overhead lights was visible, so the LG G3 should be fine with generally bright indoor lights. The Samsung S95C’s higher full-screen brightness will be a little better for really bright, sunlit rooms – though neither holds a candle to mini-LED TVs such as the Samsung QN95C. Nevertheless, with only minor reflections, it’s still extremely impressive how well the G3 handled the bright testing facility.

The out-of-the-box picture is certainly impressive on the LG G3. I cycled through several of the picture presets to test the G3 for color, sharpness, contrast and also brightness, seeing just what the MLA panel could do. Using a couple of scenes from The Batman to test these presets, starting with one scene where Batman lights a bright flare to guide people in a darkened, flooded room. Standard mode had a decent enough picture with bright color, but black levels weren’t as deep and brightness was pushed a little too far. 

However, switching to Cinema mode, the contrast was more balanced, enabling the G3 to show how it can accentuate shadows, giving a rich detail to the overall picture. The G3’s Filmmaker mode added further to this, giving the flare a subtle, yet vibrant feel that made it stand out without blowing out. In another scene, where Batman first appears in a subway fight, black levels were outstanding as the shadows and Batman’s suit looked truly dark without losing any detail. 

Testing Dolby Vision HDR content, again in Filmmaker mode, I streamed a lightsaber fight from Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Disney Plus. In it, the lightsabers’ colors were punchy and dynamic without being too glaring. Red was a very prominent color in the scene, as guards, Kylo Ren’s lightsaber and a chunk of the background were all red, but the G3 handled the vibrancy well, keeping a natural, yet flashy look with all the red in the scene.  

Using the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark Blu-ray to test more HDR content, a range of demo material highlighted the phenomenal picture quality of the G3 even further. Several snowy scenes showcased how the G3 can handle vivid whites without overdoing them and keeping a natural feel. During some landscape night shots of a city, contrast levels were excellent, with the black of the night sky contrasting well with the bright lights of the buildings. 

As for motion, the G3 handled fast paced action scenes with ease. Again in The Batman, during the Batmobile chase, the darting cars looked fluid, with the G3 (with little to no motion processing on in Filmmaker mode) making light work of this testing scene. Also, during both the training and final missions of Top Gun: Maverick, the G3s’ processor effortlessly handled the swooping fighter jets, as they careered through the air at a blinding pace, still managing to keep the detail and quality of the picture. 

If you find yourself drawn to a brighter picture mode such as Standard – but not Vivid, which should be avoided at all costs – motion processing called Trumotion does create the dreaded ‘soap opera’ effect, but thankfully the G3 picture settings give you ample settings to tweak to avoid this. However, if you want the best picture, my advice is to stick with Filmmaker mode as it makes the G3 shine, putting it up there with the best OLED TVs

  • Picture quality score: 5/5

Upfiring speakers of LG G3

The LG G3 has a 4.2-channel speaker system, with speaker around the edge helping to position sounds to match the screen. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Sound quality

  •  4.2-channel speaker setup 
  •  Good, clear sound with Cinema mode  
  •  Dolby Atmos and DTS support 

Featuring a multi-speaker setup, the G3 looks to add a more positional sound system than the average TV. There are a variety of different sound preset sound modes for the G3’s TV speakers, which come with varying degrees of success.

The Standard TV preset was solid, with clear enough dialogue and good treble levels, although it was lacking in bass and the volume needed to be pushed more than on other sound modes. 

Cinema mode was definitely an upgrade, with a much deeper bass, better overall balance and thankfully, there was no sacrifice to other sounds. While watching The Batman, during the car chase scene, the rumble of the Batmobile’s engine was thunderous through the G3’s speakers in Cinema mode, with the trumpet led score still nice and clear. Dolby Atmos effects such as rain were still present but a little harder to hear.

Another sound mode featured is AI Sound Pro, one of LG’s sound technologies that in the G3 mixes sound from incoming sources to a claimed 9.1.2 mix in an effort to create a more immersive experience. When played through the same car chase in The Batman, overall volume was much louder and Dolby Atmos effects were amplified, with the rain coming through clearer in the mix. However, it became apparent that the bass had been reduced in favor of the other main channels, including dialogue. This ended up giving a more ‘clinical sound’ in comparison to Cinema, but for programs with a lot of speech, including a cooking show I watched on live TV, it definitely improved speech levels. 

The G3 also features an Auto Acoustic Tuning mode which promises to balance levels using mics in the remote, although during our test there didn’t seem to be a great deal of difference. The G3 also has the WOW Orchestra feature that combines the speakers of the TV with a compatible LG soundbar (rather than replacing the TV’s speakers with the soundbar), but I didn’t test that during my time.

The G3’s TV sound is good enough from its built-in speakers, with the highlights being Cinema mode and AI Sound Pro (for certain situations), but if you are looking for an immersive sound to go with the G3’s fantastic picture, you’re better off looking at one of the best soundbars to pair with it. If you do want a TV with more powerful, built-in audio, you’ll want to look at the Samsung S95C – our reviewers who’ve tried both recommend its sound higher. As far as TV speakers go, though, the G3 is still well above average.

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

LG G3 from a side angle on a stand

With an elegant, sleek frame, the G3 is a good-looking TV. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Design

  •  Elegant, slim design 
  •  Flush fitting to wall 
  •  Optional stand at extra cost is frustrating 

The G3 follows in the footsteps of its predecessors of the ‘Gallery’ range of TVs, with an attractive slim design that makes it look effortlessly sleek on the wall. In terms of the frame itself, its silver and metallic design make it not only look good, but also feel solid. 

This is saying a lot, considering the actual TV itself measures at a delightfully thin 2.4cm (just under 1 inch) so you’d be forgiven for thinking the TV will feel flimsy, but thankfully it doesn’t. In fact, it’s quite a heavy and solid beast.

A special flush-to-the-wall wall mount for the TV is provided in the box and sits near the top on the rear of the TV itself, which admittedly does feel like an odd place to put it, with the majority of the weight towards the bottom of the set. However, one welcome return from last year's G2 is that the included slim-fit mount does have some movement to it, enabling you to access the back of the TV to change any inputs or cables if you need to, rather than having to take the TV on and off the wall every time.

During our test, it’s worth noting that we had the optional stand attached to allow us to place it onto our cabinet. Sadly, much like the G2, this stand is not included and neither are any type of feet. Despite the visually appealing and sturdy nature of the stand, it means people looking to place their G3 on any furniture will have to pay extra ($149 / £99), so factor that into the cost.

The supplied remote, LG’s Magic Remote, a staple inclusion with LG’s TVs over the past couple of years, makes a return and still features the same voice control options, buttons and layout as before. The central wheel can still be a little fiddly to navigate menus but is definitely a quicker alternative to the normal arrows. The pointer can also sometimes feel a bit sensitive, but once you get used, it does make navigating the G3 easier.

  • Design score: 4/5

LG G3 main home menu on screen

The webOS 23 software streamlines the home menu of the G3 and adds Quick Cards for customization. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Smart TV and menus

  •  Intuitive and easy-to-use smart platform 
  •  Streamlined compared to previous year 
  •  Quick cards allows for great customization 

The G3 is loaded with LG’s smart platform, webOS 23. LG has improved on the Home screen from last year, condensing it down onto two pages rather than the several pages it was the year before. The glaring ads and recommendations have all been toned down as well, making for a much more user-friendly smart platform.

Navigating and changing settings such as picture mode, sound output (if you’re switching from TV speakers to a soundbar for example) and sleep timer is also extremely easy. A quick menu appears on the left hand side of the screen when you press the settings button (the gear icon) on the remote and these options are clearly displayed in an easy-to-use menu. For more advanced settings, the main settings page can easily be accessed and thankfully, this too is neatly laid out into four logical categories; Picture, Sound, General and Support.

The latest feature added to webOS is the introduction of Quick Cards on the main hub. Above the usual line of apps, which can be moved and customized, there sits a group of larger icons listed with titles like Game, Music, Sports. These can actually be used to organize your apps by theme, making for even greater user customization.

Another new feature is the built-in, hands-free voice control. By enabling this feature, you simply say ‘Hi LG’ and the LG awaits your commands. During my test, I found that although it was very responsive and quick to find results, it would sometimes cut me off early and didn’t take me to where I wanted to go. Although frustrating at times, it can be useful.

  • Smart TV and menus score: 4.5/5

LG G3 with Battlefield V and game bar on screen

The G3 has a game menu to tweak settings to get the best out of video games  (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Gaming

  •  Game Optimizer mode and menu  
  •  4K 120Hz Dolby Vision support 
  •  Smooth and fluid motion during gameplay 

The LG G3 is packed with gaming features, including four HDMI 2.1 ports all rated for 4K 120Hz, giving gamers with multiple next-gen consoles plenty of space to plug them in and get the best out of them , whilst still leaving room for a soundbar. With VRR including AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility, and ALLM, the LG G3 offers a plethora of choice and support for gamers. 

When measuring input lag at 4K 60Hz, the LG G3 yielded a result of 12.9ms, a respectable score. But using the Game Optimizer feature to place input delay into Boost mode improved this result to 9.2ms, which is among the best in class.

When playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, I turned on the Game Optimizer picture mode to turn off any unwarranted ‘enhancements’ within its settings, like judder reduction or motion blur, to get the best out of the game. The motion within the game, running at 120fps, was smooth and clean, managing to feel fast paced without feeling sickening or jerky in any places. Panning and swapping between targets was a breeze and kept the action feeling pacy. 

Game Optimizer mode also managed to keep depth and details within the graphics, highlighting just how good the G3’s display was. In a stealth mission whilst infiltrating an air base in a rocky landscape, even terrain and small details such as bushes and stones looked natural, with the greens and browns still popping on screen despite darkened lighting. The sharpness of the picture gave everything a defined edge without being too defined, a problem that can occur within the sharpness detail of some TVs. 

Also featured was the Game Dashboard menu, which gave lots of opportunity for picture and sound adjustments to get the gaming experience just right. I switched between the ‘Standard’ and ‘First person shooter’ (FPS) picture options and you could see the difference having Battlefield V (a FPS) in the correct mode made, with motion becoming even more fluid compared to the ‘Standard’ game picture mode and lighting conditions improving to highlight hidden enemies. 

Much like its predecessors, the LG G3 has stellar gaming features. A wealth of connectivity and compatibility, the G3 is definitely a top choice for gamers. Paired with outstanding picture quality, the G3 finds itself amongst the best gaming TVs

  • Gaming score: 5/5

LG G3 remote in person's hand

LG's Magic Remote is featured with the G3 and offers a pointer and mic options (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Value

  •  Most competitively priced with high-end TVs 
  •  Excellent performance and picture quality 
  •  A couple of minus points compared to equivalent sets  

The LG G3 is no doubt a high-end TV, and as such comes with a matching price tag. The picture quality, gaming features and increased brightness compared to normal OLED panels mean you’re getting a lot of TV for that cash, though. 

The G3’s closest rival, the Samsung S95C, is almost identical in price in a lot of territories and it looks like the competition over which of these two TVs is slightly cheaper will be hot, but with no stand included, weaker sound and lower full-screen brightness than the Samsung S95C (and given the S95C's great external connections box), the LG G3 isn’t quite as good value for money, despite beating it in some ways. 

If you are looking for a premium OLED TV, you expect to pay the money. Thankfully, since its release, the G3’s prices have dropped notably. An outstanding, detailed picture and excellent game performance definitely make this a TV worth its money – we just think Samsung S95C ekes a little more out.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

LG G3 with lake view on screen

Another landscape showing off the G3s' phenomenal picture quality  (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the LG G3?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

LG G3 review: Also consider

How I tested the LG G3

LG G3 with snowy scene and wooden fence on screen

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested in our lab room with varying lighting conditions
  • Measurements taken using Portrait Display's Calman software
  • Tested through a variety of sources, both SDR and HDR

After running in the TV to ensure the best OLED performance, I began to test the LG G3 with a couple of different sources including gaming on an Xbox Series X and 4K Blu-ray discs, plus streaming content from several streaming services, including Disney Plus.

After assessing its presets, I chose the LG G3 most natural preset, Filmmaker mode, and began to watch things primarily on this picture mode (though this doesn't work with Dolby Vision). I used a number of 4K Blu-rays to look at elements such as color, sharpness, black levels, brightness and motion. I also streamed content from various sources, including Disney Plus for streamed Dolby Vision HDR, and watch live broadcast digital TV.

The next step was to take measurements of the G3, using Portrait Displays’ Calman calibration software. I measured the peak brightness on a 10% and 100% white window, with both HDR and SDR. I then measured grayscale, gamma and color accuracy, again using Calman, to provide average Delta-E values (which demonstrates the margin of error between the test pattern and what is displayed) for each of these categories. I also measured color space looking at DCI-P3 and BT.2020 coverage. For all these tests, I used the Murideo Seven 8K test pattern generator to create the patterns being measured.

To analyze input lag for the G3, I used the Leo Bodnar 4K Input Lag tester.

Magnetar UDP800 review: a 4K Blu-ray player with astounding video and audio quality
3:00 pm | August 28, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Magnetar UDP800: One-minute review

The Magnetar UDP800 is a reference grade 4K Blu-ray player with audiophile trappings. It delivers superb image clarity from Ultra HD discs, and is also compatible with SACD and DVD-Audio legacy music discs. Build quality is impressive, and includes the unusual provision of balanced XLR stereo outputs, fed by a 32-bit, 192kHz Burr-Brown PCM 1795 stereo DAC.

The name may not be familiar, but the Magnetar UDP800 is a heavyweight disc spinner that deserves the attention of serious cinephiles. Hailing from the same stable as Reavon and Zappiti, this Chinese-made player combines battleship build quality with high-end performance to create absolutely one of the best 4K Blu-ray players, if you've got the case to spare.

Streaming may have the upper hand when it comes to home entertainment these days, but the UDP800 could well convince you there’s another (tried and tested) way to amuse yourself – provided you can afford the asking price. Especially if you're into audiophile disc formats too, because that's where this really distinguishes itself over some of the competition.

If you just need something that plays movies at an extremely high level to show off on one of the best TVs and best 4K projectors, the Panasonic DP-UB9000 is maybe a better option at around a third lower in price – but for those who want to unlock elite audio options as well as video, it's excellent.

Magnetar UDP800 remote on top of the unit

The Magnetar UDP800's remote is dense with buttons, for a relatively simple device. (Image credit: Future)

Magnetar UDP800 review: Price & release

  • Released December 2022
  • $1,599 / €1,332 (around £1,140)

Occupying a price point once dominated by AV royalty, in the US the UDP800 sells for $1,599. In Europe it retails for €1,332. Currently there’s no UK distribution for the UDP800, but UK buyers can order one direct from France, with free shipping.

This is far higher than most people will spend on a Blu-ray player, of course, but this isn't made for most people. Its high-end audio components and construction are made for people who want the best performance, and will pay for it. 

Still, it's "only" about 50% higher-priced than the Panasonic UB9000, though it lacks streaming features. It's definitely one for audiophiles and the home theater hardcore, though.

Magnetar UDP800 review: Specs

Magnetar UDP800 audio ports shown up close

With XLR and standard stereo outputs, the Magnetar UDP800 is ready for your hi-fi as well as your TV. (Image credit: Future)

Magnetar UDP800 review: Features

  • Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support
  • SACD and DVD-A compatible
  • Audiophile stereo DAC

It’s a fair bet that if it's round and shiny, the Magnetar UDP800 will play it. In addition to 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays, and both regular and 3D Blu-ray, it spins DVD, AVCHD, SACD, CD, and a raft of recordable formats. Laserdisc is out, though, sorry.

The Magnetar also supports all mandated HDR formats for recorded media, including dynamic metadata rivals HDR10+ and Dolby Vision.

The deck can function as a self-contained content hub, with support for external HDD drives up to 16TB, which makes for a sizeable library by any measure. It will also stream from connected NAS devices, using DLNA and SMB.

There’s no support for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth though. You’ll need to hardwire everything. And apps are conspicuous by their absence – this is not a streaming hub. Get yourself an Apple TV 4K (2022) or something for that.

Like many high-end disc players, there's a big focus on sound here. The components are audiophile grade. Beneath the lid lurks a 32-bit, 192kHz Burr-Brown PCM 1795 stereo DAC. A four-layer PCB sports a high-quality op-amp for the deck’s Pure Audio mode, with a high-power, custom 60W transformer and Japanese Rubycon electrolytic capacitors. 

There’s no shortage of ways to integrate the UDP800 into a sound system: rear connections include a stereo XLR gold-plated balanced output, as well as a standard stereo RCA phonos. Of course, for convenience, many users will simply stick with HDMI – there are two here, for flexibility.

  • Features score: 4.5

Magnetar UDP800 menu

Despite the remote's imposing buttons, the menu of the Magnetar UDP800 can be relatively simple. (Image credit: Magnetar)

Magnetar UDP800 review: Performance

  • Excellent image clarity
  • High-grade audio performance
  • Universal disc support

Disc loading times are relatively fast. A Sherlock Holmes (2009 vintage) UHD Blu-ray went from tray to Warner Bros logo in 30 seconds, while a Goldfinger Blu-ray travelled from tray to main menu in 40 seconds. 

The UDP800 uses a quad-core system Media Tek MT8581 chipset, which boasts enviable audio video decoding. 

Picture performance is sublime. The aforementioned Guy Ritchie 4K Sherlock disc opens with a heavily shadowed slow-motion action set piece with Robert Downey Jr. The deck delivers detail down to near black, without obvious noise or artefacts being introduced.

A 4K test disc featuring impeccably polished musical instruments conveys all the luster and near three-dimensional texture you would hope for. The featured instruments reveal subtle thumbprints and the minuscule patina of use. 

Ironically, where premium Blu-ray decks such as the UDP800 really shine is not so much through video, but audio. This deck is an absolute joy to listen to.

A 96khz 24bit 7.1 (Japanese) recording of The Earth overture, by Kosuke Yamashita,  in linear PCM sounds superb, with crystal clarity and hugely dynamic fanfares. It's like sitting amidst the orchestra.

The deck’s stereo performance is similarly involving. Jazz SACD Bluesmith, by Tommy Smith, is a revelation (particularly if, like me, you spend too much time listening to smart speakers). This two-channel DSD 2.8MHz recording exhibits astounding depth of tone and clarity.

Obviously, the UDP800 does all the immersive audio stuff too – with bitstream support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Movies and music are equally impressive. This will make the most of any of the best TVs, best 4K projectors, and whatever elite sound system you have available to you.

  • Performance score: 5/5

Magnetar UDP800 rear, showing all of its ports

The Magnetar UDP800 has two HDMI ports as well as its audio connections. (Image credit: Magnetar)

Magnetar UDP800 review: Design

  • Formidable build quality
  • Versatile connectivity
  • Button-heavy remote control

The UDP800 can be considered old-school handsome for AV fans. Weighing in at 8kg, it feels like the sort of equipment that will still be going strong in a decade or two.  

The player itself features a double-layer chassis structure, 1.6mm thick, with a 3mm steel plate for extra rigidity.

The front fascia has a premium hairline finish, broken only by the center-mounted disc loading tray and LED display. To the left is a concealed USB port, while to the right are transport and control buttons.

Rear connections comprise two HDMIs, one of which is audio only, a USB 3.0 port, and two digital audio outputs, one coaxial and the other digital optical. The deck also has a stereo analog audio output, with both RCA phono and XLR options.

There’s an Ethernet port for networking, but no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Smart home system control is offered via an RS-232C port.

Similarly suggestive of times past is the IR remote, which is festooned with tiny buttons. Why navigate a menu when you can give pretty much every option its own button? Thankfully, usability in practice is less intimidating.

  • Design score: 5/5

Magnetar UDP800 review: Value

  • Built to last
  • High-end componentry
  • Unapologetically expensive

Let’s be clear: the Magnetar UDP800 is a niche product. No one is going to slap this kind of cash down on a whim, but if you already have a big investment in physical discs, be they Blu-ray, 4K UHD, discs, CDs or SACD/DVD-As, then its punchy price starts to make a lot more sense.

The price tag is commensurate with the Magnetar’s build and specification – it's not double or triple the price of the Panasonic UB9000, yet it delivers a real feast for audiophiles.

On the other hand, it doesn't have streaming apps, so it can't be your all-in-one movie and music hub. While this is technically a knock against its value, we expect that the target audience has no problem picking up a high-quality streamer too.

  • Value score: 4/5

Magnetar UDP800 review: Should I buy it?

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Magnetar UDP800 review: Also consider

Roku Plus Series review: a great budget 4K QLED TV
6:00 pm | June 10, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Roku Plus Series TV: Two-minute review

Most people know Roku for its streaming boxes and sticks – like the Roku Streaming Stick 4K – as well as the company’s smart interface, which can be found in TVs from brands like TCL, Hisense and others. Back in March of 2023, the company also started selling its own Roku-branded TVs, and as with its streamers, they are priced at a level that most people can afford.  

There are two lines of Roku TVs: the Plus Series and the Select Series. Both are inexpensive compared to other sets, but the Plus Series is more feature-packed and consequently priced a bit higher. I was sent a 65-inch Plus model to review, and as a longtime Roku user, I was very curious to see how this $649 set would stack up against other 4K TVs I’ve recently tested.

Along with the company’s own smart TV interface, Plus Series TVs feature AirPlay for wireless streaming from devices and work with Alexa and Google Assistant. You can also conduct hands-free voice searches using the remote control’s built-in mic by first saying “Hey Roku” or by pressing a button on the remote and speaking your search directly.

Plus Series TVs use a QLED display panel with a full-array local dimming backlight, and there’s support for Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HLG high dynamic range. The 65-inch model I tested doesn’t offer nearly the same peak brightness as QLED TVs with a mini-LED backlight, but it has a local dimming feature that's effective enough to deliver images with strong contrast.

All new Roku TVs have a native 60Hz refresh rate. And while we normally recommend 120Hz 4K TVs for gaming, the Plus Series had an impressive 11.5 ms measured input lag when its Game mode was enabled.

The design of Plus Series sets are basic though, and they come with side-mounted support feet that can’t be height-adjusted. Inputs include 4 HDMI 2.0 ports (1 with eARC) along with an RF connection for an antenna and an optical digital audio output.

Audio on the Plus Series is also basic, with the TV sporting two bottom-mounted speakers. And while the sound is perfectly satisfactory given the TV’s price, the company offers several inexpensive options to enhance audio quality, including a 2-channel soundbar that connects wirelessly with the TV, and wireless surround sound and subwoofer speakers.

Between the company’s own The Roku Channel and a Live TV portal with an enormous amount of free streaming channels that can be browsed in a grid format with TV broadcasts pulled in by antenna, there’s plenty available to watch here, much of it free. Even so, the Roku smart TV interface provides almost every streaming service app you could possibly want, and it also supports personal photo streaming, with an option to add pictures directly from your phone.

Roku Plus Series TV review: price and release date

  • Release date:  March, 2023 
  • 55R6A5R: $499
  • 65R6A5R: $649
  • 75R6A5R: $999

The Plus Series models are the step-up offerings in the Roku TV lineup. They are available in 55-, 65-, and 75-screen sizes, and are only sold in the US at Best Buy stores and online.

Pricing for the Roku Plus Series TVs is in the same approximate range as budget models from Hisense, TCL, and Amazon Fire TVs, all of which also feature QLED screen tech, and in some instances a local dimming backlight similar to Roku Plus series models.

Roku Plus Series TV review: Specs

Roku Plus Series TV back input panel

Back panel inputs include two side-mounted HDMI 2.0 ports (one with eARC), two bottom-mounted HDMI 2.0 ports, an optical digital output, and an antenna connection. (Image credit: Future)

Roku Plus Series TV review: features

  • Roku smart TV interface and voice remote
  • Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HLG high dynamic range 
  • Four HDMI inputs, one with enhanced audio return channel (eARC)

Roku Plus Series TVs feature the company’s popular smart TV interface, which is easy to navigate compared to other options. It provides an extensive amount of streaming apps to select from, and includes The Roku Channel and the Live TV portal for streaming free ad-supported TV shows and movies. Live TV also lets you integrate TV channels tuned by an indoor TV antenna.

Plus Series TVs support AirPlay for wireless streaming from iPhones and iPads, and they also work with Alexa and Google Assisant. They include voice remote pro features, a rechargeable battery and it has a built-in mic that allows for hands-free voice searches (the built-in mic can also be easily disabled using a switch located on the remote).

A QLED display panel with a native 60Hz refresh rate is used for the Plus series, and there’s a full-array local dimming backlight for enhanced contrast. High dynamic range support includes Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and HLG. A Game mode is also provided that reduces input lag when gaming with a connected console.

The set’s four HDMI inputs include one that supports HDMI eARC for a soundbar connection, and there’s an optical digital audio output and an RF input to connect an antenna. When viewing TV broadcasts, you can pause and rewind live TV for up to 90 minutes when a 16GB USB flash drive is plugged into the set’s USB port. Roku TVs also support a wireless audio connection to the company’s Roku Smart soundbar

Roku’s features package for its Plus Series is fairly basic overall compared to other TVs, but it includes a solid array of video performance basics such as a QLED display panel and full array local dimming backlight.

  • Features Score: 3.5/5  

Roku Plus Series TV showing Max app screen with Avatar 2

The new Max is one of the many streaming apps available in the Roku smart TV interface (Image credit: Future)

Roku Plus Series TV review: picture quality

  • Average brightness
  • Deep blacks with detailed shadows 
  • Some screen reflections

The 65-inch Roku Plus Series TV I tested delivered an average brightness level for a QLED TV, with peak brightness topping out at 556 nits (measured on a 10% white window test pattern) in its Standard HDR picture mode, and 533 nits in Dark HDR mode. To put those numbers into perspective, the TCL 6-series TV, a model with a mini-LED backlight, can hit 1,326 nits peak brightness, while the LG C3 OLED TV tops out at 830 nits.

A full-array local dimming backlight on the Plus Series enabled it to display deep blacks, though it didn’t hit the 0 IRE full black that OLED TVs and the best mini-LED models are capable of, with maximum contrast measuring 20,500:1. Even so, blacks looked strikingly deep in most movie clips I watched, and backlight 'blooming' artifacts were surprisingly minimal given the set’s low price. For most of my testing I kept the Micro Contrast setting at High, which delivered the best black depth and shadow detail.

The color balance in the Movie picture mode’s default Warm color temperature setting was slightly blue-ish, with most Delta E values measuring in the 3-4 range (we typically look for these to dip below 3). Measurements made with Portrait’s Calman display calibration software also showed coverage of DCI-P3 (the color space used for mastering 4K Blu-rays and digital cinema releases) to be 95.8%, and BT.2020 to be 81.3%. These are very good results, and closely match what was measured on the TCL 6-Series TV.

Roku’s Plus Series set had a fair amount of screen reflectivity, with reflections visible when viewing in a room with bright overhead lights. Picture contrast and color saturation also weren’t as solid when viewing from off-center seats, though that effect is common with LCD-based TVs like the Plus Series.

I watched several scenes from 4K Blu-ray discs that I typically use for testing on the Roku Plus Series, starting out with the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark (the just-released new version). Viewing the 4,000 nits version of the montage sequence, some clipping artifacts were visible with the set’s Dynamic Tone Mapping setting active, though the issue disappeared when I watched a version graded at 1,000 nits – a more typical peak brightness for programs with HDR. Otherwise, images in the montage looked clean, crisp and had rich color, though the strongest highlights lacked some of the visual punch I’ve seen when watching the same material on brighter TVs.

Next up was No Time to Die, the James Bond film from 2021. Shadows looked deep and solid in the early scenes where Bond and Madeleine arrive in Italy, and in a later one where 007 walks across a craggy hill toward the resting place of Vesper Lynd with the camera panning along, the motion was smooth with almost no blurring artifacts.

Dune also looked very good on the Roku TV, with the set’s processor managing to deliver a detailed and noise-free picture even in difficult scenes like one where Paul walks through a dark and misty environment with Lady Jessica following an interrogation by the Reverend Mother. I’ve seen other, much more expensive TVs trip up on this sequence, which made the Roku’s handling of it all the more impressive.

With Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse now out in theaters, it seemed appropriate to give 2018’s Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse a spin on the Roku Plus TV. This film has an incredible range of color, and images are enlivened with finely detailed textures throughout that give it a printed comic book look. The Roku conveyed all of it in a convincing manner, with images looking impressively dynamic for such an affordable TV.

  • Picture quality score: 4/5

Roku Plus Series TV main smart interface

Inputs can be accessed from the main Roku TV interface  (Image credit: Future)

Roku Plus Series TV review: sound quality

  • Two downfiring speakers
  • Average TV sound quality 
  • Can make a wireless soundbar connection

Roku Plus Series use two down-firing speakers and the sound quality is average – you can easily hear dialogue and there’s a good overall balance, but otherwise dynamic movie soundtracks tend to flatten out during loud scenes.

Roku sells a two-channel Roku TV wireless soundbar ($150), which is designed specifically for its TVs and can be connected wirelessly (surround speakers and a subwoofer can also be added for a wireless 4.1-channel setup). Roku sent me its wireless soundbar to try out, and setting it up was incredibly easy. Configuration and control of the soundbar is carried out using the voice remote pro, with sound presets selectable via the TV’s menus.

Of the various presets, the Standard mode proved to be the best for most viewing, and with it selected dialogue gained weight and body while soundtrack elements like music and effects came across with greater clarity and dynamic presence. Given the TV’s low price, this is definitely a situation where you should consider a soundbar, and while there are plenty of great choices on our best soundbars list, the Roku TV wireless soundbar is a perfect match for this TV.

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

Roku Plus Series TV support feet on TV stand

The 2-channel Roku TV wireless soundbar (shown) provides an easy and inexpensive audio upgrade (Image credit: Future)

Roku Plus Series TV review: design

  • Basic design
  • Side-mounted, non-adjustable support feet 
  • Roku voice pro remote with built-in mic

The design of Plus Series TVs is fairly basic, with a thin bezel surrounding the screen’s edges and a thicker bezel at the bottom with a protruding compartment with an IR receiver and multipurpose control button under the Roku logo. Side-mounted feet provide sturdy support, though both their height and horizontal spread can’t be adjusted.

Two of the TV’s HDMI ports are located on an input panel accessible from the side, while the other two are on the panel’s bottom along with the antenna, USB, and Ethernet ports. There’s also a composite-video and RCA-type analog stereo audio input here that lets you connect legacy sources such as a VCR or vintage game console. The bottom HDMI ports were somewhat difficult to access, and could potentially be a challenge when using a stiff cable to connect sources.

The built-in battery of Roku’s compact voice pro remote control can be recharged by connecting it to the TV’s USB port. It has a built-in mic that can either be always on or disabled using a switch located on the remote’s side. The benefit to having the mic always on is that you can do hands-free voice searches by saying “Hey Roku” followed by a request. You can also momentarily activate the mic for searches by pressing the mic button at the remote’s center. Four quick buttons let you instantly access the Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, Netflix and Max streaming services, and there are two numbered “shortcut” buttons that can be configured for a range of uses.

  • Design score: 3.5/5

Roku Plus Series TV Live TV program guide shown onscreen

The Live TV "Favorites" program grid with streaming and broadcast TV channels listed (Image credit: Future)

Roku Plus Series TV review: smart TV & menus

  • Roku TV interface
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Picture adjustments hard to access

Roku’s well-known and well-regarded smart TV interface is one I’m familiar with having spent many years as a Roku owner before making the leap to an Apple TV 4K. It’s a great interface for browsing apps, mainly because everything is right up front and accessible, and it’s easy to add or delete apps.

The Roku Live TV portal is a good way to supplement any streaming services you subscribe to. It offers an abundance of free channels organized in a time-based grid, and you can add broadcast TV channels tuned by an antenna to expand your free TV menu. With so many channels to choose from, it’s a good idea to edit the grid down to a more manageable size – something that the Favorites feature easily lets you do.

The Roku Photo Streams app has received recent enhancements that let you upload images directly from a phone to for viewing on the TV. You can also now edit streams and set screensavers, and the app now supports up to 1,000 images. When it comes to displaying personal photo libraries, the Roku Plus series is no Apple TV 4K, which provides tight integration with that company’s Photos app. Even so, most viewers will find Photo Streams to be sufficient for their needs.

Picture adjustments are carried out by pressing the remote’s asterisk button, which calls up the onscreen setup menus. You can adjust picture settings separately for regular and HDR sources, and those custom settings can also be applied across all of the TV’s inputs. Getting to basic adjustments like Brightness, Contrast and Color can take a lot of button presses, which is something that I found annoying during my time testing the TV's performance.

  • Smart TV & menus score: 4.5/5

Roku Plus Series TV remote control held in hand

The Roku TV remote has a USB rechargeable battery and quick buttons to access select apps (Image credit: Future)

Roku Plus Series TV review: gaming

  • No cloud gaming apps
  • Low 11.5 ms input lag
  • Auto Game Mode

With a native 60Hz refresh rate, the Roku Plus isn’t designed to be a powerhouse gaming TV. There’s also no gaming portal with subscription cloud-based services like you’ll find on Samsung and LG sets, and there’s no support for Bluetooth game controllers.

What Roku Plus TVs do offer gamers is a Game mode that reduces input lag to 11.5ms – an impressive level for a budget TV and one that will satisfy all but competitive gamers. Game mode is automatically enabled when a console input is detected, saving you the trouble of having to turn it on in the TV’s settings menu.

  • Gaming score: 3/5

Roku Plus Series TV showing image from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse onscreen

The Roku TV Plus isn't the brightest TV, but it has a very good combination of features and performance for the money (Image credit: Future)

Roku Plus Series TV review: value

  • Very good picture quality for price
  • Roku interface adds to value
  • Loads of free (but ad-supported) streaming channels

At just $649, the 65-inch Plus Series TV I tested is a great value. It’s not able to hit the high peak brightness levels some of its budget TV competition manages, particularly models with a mini-LED backlight, and that limitation lessens some of its impact when viewing movies with HDR. But overall, image quality here is very good for the price.

Also adding to the value of Plus Series TVs is the company’s built-in streaming interface, which is clean and easy to navigate and offers pretty much any app you’d want along with a Live TV portal to stream a multitude of free ad-supported channels. You’ll have a tough time not finding something to watch on Roku’s TV, and if you do, you can always use its hands-free voice remote to recommend something.

  • Value score: 5/5 

Roku Plus Series TV shown at side angle

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Roku Plus Series TV?

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TCL 6-Series mini-LED
TCL’s 6-Series TVs are a fairly substantial price jump over the Roku Plus Series, but you’re getting a big brightness boost for the money. The 6-Series is also a better option for gaming with next-gen gaming features like 4K 120Hz and VRR.

How I tested the Roku Plus Series TV

Roku Plus Series TV showing Ferris Wheel onscreen

(Image credit: Future)
  • I spent about 15 hours in total measuring and evaluating
  • Measurements were made using Calman color calibration software
  • A full calibration was made before proceeding with subjective tests

When I test TVs, my first step is to spend a few days using it for casual viewing for break-in and to assess the out-of-box picture presets. The next step is to select the most accurate-looking preset (typically labeled Filmmaker or Movie) and measure the white balance (grayscale), gamma, and color point accuracy using Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. The resulting measurements provide Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) for each category, and they allow for an assessment of the TV’s overall accuracy.

Along with those tests, I make measurements of peak light output (recorded in nits) for both standard high-definition and 4K high dynamic range using 10% and 100% white window patterns. Coverage of DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space is also measured, with the results providing a sense of how faithfully the TV can render the extended color range in ultra high-definition sources.

For the Roku Plus Series TV, I used the CalMan ISF workflow, along with the advanced picture menu settings in the Roku control app, to calibrate the image for best accuracy with SDR and HDR sources. Once done, I watched a range of reference scenes on 4K Blu-ray discs that I’ve gathered after years of TV and projector testing to assess the TV’s performance, as well as new Dolby Vision-encoded material streamed from sources like Netflix and Max.

  • First reviewed: June 6, 2023
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: a budget mini-LED with great performance
4:00 pm | January 28, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022): Two-minute review

 TCL’s 6-Series TVs are known for their combination of impressive picture quality and high value, and the latest version of the company’s flagship not just continues that tradition, but improves upon it. Available in 55- to 85-inch screen sizes, the new 6-Series arrived in late 2022, and it offers not just movie fans but gamers on a budget a great big-screen option.

Mini-LED backlighting is common in the best 4K TVs now, but TCL was the first to widely introduce it. In the 6-Series, mini-LED tech enables high brightness, while a quantum dot layer enhances color reproduction, and full array local dimming processing creates deep and detailed shadows. The set features Dolby Vision IQ to make high dynamic range images look good in both dim and well-lit environments, and HDR support extends to HDR10+ and HLG. 

Gaming features on 6-Series TV are enabled via a pair of HDMI 2.1 inputs, with onboard support for 120Hz, Variable Refresh Rate (up to 144Hz), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). FreeSync Premium Pro is also supported, making TCL’s flagship an obvious choice for gaming.

A new design with a sturdy center stand (55-, 65-, and 75-inch models only) improves the look of TCL’s 6-Series, and a vanishingly thin bezel creates an “all-picture” effect. The stand has adjustable height for soundbar placement, and can be elevated to accommodate all but the most chunky of bars.

That last feature is an important one because sound quality on 6-Series TVs is just average. Dialogue is clear, but there’s very little bass, and the thin overall audio balance can create ear fatigue (for me, at least). You’ll want to add one of the best soundbars to this TV, if only a basic two-channel one.

The set I tested uses the Roku smart TV interface (a version with Google TV is also available), which is one of the less cluttered and easy to navigate options on the market. A basic Roku remote provided with the set offers voice commands for searches and basic control, and the TV also works with Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google.

As far as value goes, the new 6-Series is one of the more compelling TV options on the market. This series is packed with great features and the performance is well above-average, especially given the price. TCL has once again made things look easy, rolling out a high-value TV lineup with a surprisingly high level of refinement.

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: price and release date

  • Release date:  September 1, 2022 
  • From $699 at 55 inches

TCL’s 6-Series is the company’s top TV line, with screen sizes ranging from 55 up to 85 inches. The version I reviewed comes with the Roku smart TV interface, but similar 6-Series models and screen sizes are available with Google TV. TCL’s 6-Series is only available in the US.

Pricing for the 6-Series TVs is comparable to other budget TV offerings in the US such as Hisense and Vizio. 

The 55-inch 55R655 costs $699, the 65-inch 65R655 costs $999, the 75-inch 75R655 costs $1,499, and the 85R655 costs $1,999.

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: Specs

TCL-6-series-2022 TV inputs

Back panel inputs include two HDMI 2.1 ports  plus two side-mounted HDMI 2.0b ports (one with eARC) and an antenna connection. (Image credit: Future)

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: features

  • Roku smart TV interface
  • Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HLG high dynamic range
  • HDMI 2.1 inputs with 120Hz and VRR

The TCL 6-Series (2022) model we reviewed features the Roku smart TV interface (Google TV is another 6-Series option). Roku’s interface has a clean layout that’s very easy to navigate, and it offers the best streaming services, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus, Hulu, Peacock, and ESPN Plus. The TV Works with Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google and it has AirPlay 2 support for casting from an iOS device or Mac computer.

TCL’s 6-Series sets are QLED models that feature a quantum dot layer for enhanced color and brightness and they use a mini-LED backlight with full array local dimming (288 zones). The company’s AiPQ Engine handles video processing and high dynamic range support extends to Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+, and HLG. 

Two of the set’s four HDMI inputs are version HDMI 2.1 with support for 4K 120Hz input, Variable Refresh Rate (up to 144Hz), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). One port supports HDMI eARC for a soundbar connection, and there’s an optical digital audio output and an RF input to connect an indoor TV antenna for use with the set’s ATSC 1.0 broadcast tuner. When viewing TV broadcasts, you can rewind live TV up to 30 minutes when a storage device is plugged into the set’s USB port.

Overall, the feature package is excellent for the price, with the TV’s mini-LED backlight and local dimming features, along with extensive HDR support, making it an excellent choice for movie viewing. And 120Hz, VRR, and ALLM support, along with FreeSync Premium Pro, make it a great option for gaming as well.

  • Features Score: 4.5/5  

TCL-6-series-2022 TV side view in living room

The 6-Series offers sufficient brightness to work in well-lit rooms. (Image credit: Future)

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: picture quality

  • Rich color reproduction
  • Deep blacks with detailed shadows
  • Limited brightness for an OLED TV

The 65-inch 6-Series TV I tested offered up the impressive brightness you’d expect from a mini-LED TV, with standard dynamic range peak light output measured at 1,326 nits and high dynamic range at 1,317 nits. That’s a bit less than the 1,775 nits I measured on the Hisense U8H, another budget mini-LED model, but still well above what you’d get from an average QLED or OLED TV.

With the set’s High Brightness and and High Local Contrast settings selected, it was capable of displaying black at 0 nits to deliver “infinite contrast.” With the Local Contrast setting switched off, the set’s native contrast ratio was 5,965:1 – still a very good result for an LCD-based TV. For most of my testing, I set Local Contrast at High, which delivered the best black depth and black uniformity.

The TCL’s color balance in its default Warm color temperature setting was slightly reddish across the full grayscale, though that could be corrected for using the advanced picture settings in the Roku control app, along with Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. Coverage of DCI-P3 (the color space used for mastering 4K Blu-rays and digital cinema releases) was 96.2%, and BT.2020 was 76.3%. Those results are very good, and basically match what I measured on the Hisense U8H.

Screen reflections from overhead lights were minimal on the 6-Series TV I tested. This, combined with the set’s prodigious light output, makes it a great option for viewing in a well-illuminated space. Picture contrast and color saturation faded when viewing from off-center seats, but that’s a common effect with LCD-based TVs.

Moving on to how the TCL looked with movies and TV, I started my viewing by watching some high-definition documentaries broadcast on a local PBS channel, and the set’s 4K upconversion was impressively clean and crisp. Soccer games streamed via ESPN Plus looked somewhat softer, but overall the picture quality was very good for sports streamed in HD resolution. The Bond film No Time to Die has a scene where the camera does a long slow pan across a craggy hillside, and this appeared mostly smooth on TCL’s 6-Series TV. (I’ve seen that scene literally vibrate with judder on some other sets.)

Streaming the The Last of Us on HBO Max in Dolby Vision, the set’s Dolby Vision IQ processing presented a well balanced picture packed with subtle yet powerful highlights. In a scene where Joel, Tess, and Ellie wander outside an abandoned museum, for example, the golden sunlight hitting them and their surroundings made the ravaged landscape look almost beautiful. Detail in this scene was also rich, with the CGI-created textures of the fungi crisply rendered.

All Quiet on the Western Front, a 2022 Oscar Best Picture nominee, also looked fantastic on the TCL when streamed in Dolby Vision from Netflix. Shadows in the film’s many dark scenes came across as a deep, inky black, and there was a good amount of detail in the dark trenches where the French and German soldiers do battle. I did see a small degree of backlight blooming, mostly on the black letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the picture when flares or some other very bright object appeared. But instances of this were minimal and I only noted it when specifically looking for it.

Overall, I was very impressed with the TCL 6-Series TV’s picture quality. Its light output proved to be more than enough for my regular dark room viewing habits, and I ended up scaling it back considerably for most shows I watched.

  • Picture quality score: 4.5/5

TCL 6-series 2022 TV back cable management close-up

A flap on the back of the TV stand provides holes for cable management. (Image credit: Future)

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: sound quality

  • 2 x 10 watt speakers
  • Dolby Atmos support
  • Thin sound quality with most modes

The 6-Series’ audio features are very basic, with a pair of downfiring speakers each powered by 10 watts, handling sound chores. TCL’s specs state Dolby Atmos support, but that’s limited to virtual Atmos from the set’s speaker pair.

I cycled through the TV’s multiple sound processing modes, including Theater and Bass Boost, but couldn’t find one that didn’t have thin audio quality. You do get the option to turn on virtual surround sound for all programs or just for ones with Dolby Atmos, and when used with Atmos soundtracks there is a notable sense of spaciousness to the sound.

Dialogue was very clear with all programs I watched, even ones with medium-loud soundtracks. Even so, this was a case where I felt almost desperate to add a Dolby Atmos soundbar to the TV, and when I did, the sound filled out and made dialogue more balanced with other elements like music and effects. 

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

TCL-6-series-2022 TV stand close-up

A highlight of the new 6-Series design is an aluminum plate center-mounted stand. (Image credit: Future)

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: design

  • FullView edge-to-edge glass design
  • Aluminum base with center placement
  • Roku remote control with built-in mic

The 6-Series has a great look for a budget TV line. TCL’s FullView edge-to-edge glass design, along with an extremely thin bezel, means there’s an “all picture” appearance, and the aluminum base at center screen provides a sturdy foundation for it to rest upon. 

The base has adjustable height, and after setup there was plenty of space between the screen’s lower edge and my TV stand's surface to accommodate a rather sizeable soundbar – always a plus with a TV. Around back, the set has a cable management system, and you can use this to route wires from connected components located on shelves beneath to the inputs section on the TV’s side. 

The Roku remote used to control the set will be familiar to anyone who has used that company’s streamers. It has a simple button layout, including quick keys to easily access apps like Netflix, and a button to activate the built-in mic for voice searches. It’s basic enough to use in a dark room and provides all the controls needed for accessing inputs and picture and sound adjustments via the onscreen menu. 

  • Design score: 4.5/5

TCL-6-series-2022 smart TV interface

The easy-to-navigate Roku smart TV interface combines apps with input selection and other settings. (Image credit: Future)

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: smart TV & menus

  • Roku TV interface
  • Works with Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google
  • Picture adjustments require lots of scrolling

A Roku product was my very first streamer, and I had used several of them over the years before making a switch to the Apple TV 4K. It’s a great interface – easy to navigate, and with extensive app support. One of the issues I have with smart TV interfaces is that they’ll often be missing several key apps that I use on a regular basis (Criterion Channel and ESPN Plus among others), but Roku always seems to have it all and more. Unlike other smart TV platforms like Google TV and Amazon, the Roku interface also isn’t overloaded with ads and program options being “pushed” at you.

Voice searches can be easily carried out by pressing the mic button on the remote control, and the TV also “Works with” Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google when you add your own device for those platforms. AirPlay 2 is supported for streaming, letting you cast video and music to the TV from your iOS device or Mac computer.

Having never tested a set with Roku baked in before, it took some time to get used to the TV functions being embedded in the long-familiar streaming interface. You navigate and select inputs the same as you do with streaming apps, and a press of the remote’s star button calls up the picture settings menu. TCL makes it easy to get up and running, with basic and very general categories like TV Brightness, Local Contrast, and HDR Picture modes (with Dark and Bright settings). But you’ll need to keep scrolling, a bit annoyingly, to the Picture Fine Tune menu to access other adjustments like Brightness, Contrast, and Color. There’s also a more advanced picture menu with 11-point color temperature adjustments located in the Roku control app (iOS and Android).

When using the set’s built in ATSC 1.0 broadcast TV tuner, you’ll get program guide-like on-screen overlays with details about the show you’ve selected, and you can edit the channel list to limit it to just the ones you regularly watch. A neat feature is Live TV Rewind, which lets you scroll back up to 30 minutes when a storage device is plugged into the set’s USB port.

TCL 6-series 2022 TV remote control in a hand

The Roku TV remote control has a basic layout and limited button count, but it gets the job done. (Image credit: Future)
  • Smart TV & menus score: 4.5/5

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: gaming

  • VRR up to 144Hz, ALLM, FreeSync Premium Pro support
  • Low 10.1ms input lag
  • Auto Game Mode

TCL says its 6-Series TVs have Game Studio Pro. And while what that exactly means is unclear, it appears to be an umbrella term for the set’s many gaming-related features. Of these, the most notable is VRR with up to 144Hz support. Another is ALLM, along with FreeSync Premium Pro. These are all great gaming extras to find in an affordable TV.

The 6-Series sets also have Auto Game Mode, which basically means that the TV automatically switches over to settings optimized for gaming when it detects an input from a compatible console. Otherwise, there’s no “Gaming Dashboard” similar to the ones on LG’s TVs, or the Gaming Hub interface found on Samsung’s sets.

I measured input lag in the set’s Gaming picture mode at 10.1ms using a 4K test meter. That’s a great result, and one that ranks the 6-Series among the the best gaming TVs when combined with its impressive feature-set.

  • Gaming score: 4.5/5

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022) review: value

  • Affordable for a mini-LED TV
  • Great picture quality for the price
  • Gaming features rival those found on expensive TVs

This is the second budget TV I’ve tested with a mini-LED backlight (the first was the Hisense U8H), and I’m astonished at the difference that feature makes, and that it can be incorporated into such an affordable set.

The 6-Series TV I tested delivered the kind of deep, rich blacks I’m used to seeing on much more expensive models, and its impressive local dimming ensured that visible artifacts like backlight blooming were kept to a minimum. Overall, this TV delivers a very clean and punchy looking picture for the price.

If you’re a gamer, the value of the 6-Series goes up even further. (Unfortunately, our value scale only extends to 5, so I can’t give it higher points.) It offers the kind of gamer-oriented features normally found in pricier TVs, and in key ways appears specifically designed to cater to the gaming crowd.

  • Value score: 5/5 

TCL-6-series-2022 TV Netflix interface

Netflix is one of the many apps available in the Roku smart TV interface. (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022)?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if…

Also consider...

Hisense U8H mini-LED
Hisense’s U8H series sets are another example of a budget TV lineup with mini-LED backlighting and high brightness. The U8H series also has gaming oriented features like 4K 120Hz and VRR, though its local dimming isn’t as effective as the 6-Series. 

How I tested the TCL 6-Series Roku TV (2022)

Test pattern displayed on TV screen in living room

(Image credit: Future)
  • I spent about 15 hours measuring and evaluating the TCL 6-Series Roku TV
  • Measurements were made using Calman color calibration software
  • A full calibration was made before proceeding with subjective tests

When I test TVs, my first step is to spend a few days using it for casual viewing for break-in and to assess the out-of-box picture presets. The next step is to select the most accurate-looking preset (typically labeled Movie or Cinema) and measure the white balance (grayscale), gamma, and color point accuracy using Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. The resulting measurements provide Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) for each category, and they allow for an assessment of the TV’s overall accuracy.

Along with those tests, I make measurements of peak light output (recorded in nits) for both standard high-definition and 4K high dynamic range using a 10% white window pattern. Coverage of DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space is also measured, with the results providing a sense of how faithfully the TV can render the extended color range in ultra high-definition sources.

For the TCL 6-Series Roku TV, I used the CalMan ISF workflow, along with the advanced picture menu settings in the Roku control app, to calibrate the image for best accuracy with SDR and HDR sources. Once done, I watched a range of reference scenes on 4K Blu-ray discs that I’ve gathered after years of TV and projector testing to assess the TV’s performance, as well as new Dolby Vision-encoded material streamed from sources like Netflix and HBO Max.

LG C3 OLED review: a picture-perfect TV for movies and gaming
11:47 pm | January 8, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

LG C3 OLED TV: Two-minute review

In 2022, the LG C2 OLED got the nod for best TV of the Year in the TechRadar Choice Awards, and that designation came after sitting for many months at the top of our list for best 4K TV. It was the C2’s combination of performance, features, and price that sealed the deal for us, and it ended up being a very easy recommendation for anyone looking for a high-performance TV that wasn’t over-the-top expensive.

Given the C2’s success, I had high expectations going into this 65-inch LG C3 OLED TV review. You’ll have to read on to find out exactly how the new model fared, but I don’t think I’m spoiling much to say that it’s every bit as impressive as its predecessor, and then some. 

Prices for the C3 series are around the same as for the C2 series. And while I had expected (hoped?) that they would be lower, the C3 series, which is available in screen sizes ranging from 42 inches up to 83 inches, is still an approachable option, and ultimately a good value considering all that’s on offer.

The C3’s extensive feature set makes it a great choice for gamers and movie fans alike. It has four HDMI 2.1 inputs with support for 4K 120Hz, VRR, ALLM, along with FreeSync Premium Pro and Nvidia G-Sync. Cloud gaming options include Nvidia GeForce Now and Utomik.

LG’s Alpha9 Gen6 chip used for picture processing brings new HDR-improving features including OLED Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro and Expression Enhancer, both of which have an impact on image quality. And while the C3 delivers roughly the same picture brightness as the C2, the level of contrast, clarity, and definition it delivers is notable.

The webOS 23 smart TV interface used in the C3 is also a step above the version found in last year’s LG models. It has a more streamlined and pleasing appearance, as well as new features like Quick Cards for grouping apps by theme and an editable Quick Menu for accessing picture, sound, and other adjustments. As usual with LG TVs, it comes with the company’s innovative Magic Remote.

Audio performance isn’t dramatically different compared to the C2 series, but the C3 has a new Wow Orchestra feature that lets you combine the output of the TV’s built-in speakers with select LG Dolby Atmos soundbars for even more immersive audio.

LG’s C3 OLED also has a nice look, with a slim bezel and aluminum-faced center stand. Connectivity options are excellent, though it does lack the built-in ATSC 3.0 digital TV tuner found in LG’s step-up G3 series models, a feature that’s important for viewers in the US. It may not be a dramatic advancement over last year’s C2, but LG has delivered another winner with the C3 OLED.

LG C3 OLED TV review: price and release date

  • Release date:  March, 2023 
  • OLED83C3: $5,299 / £6,499 / around AU$7,900
  • OLED77C3: $3,599 / £3,999 / around AU$5,370
  • OLED65C3: $2,600 / £2,899 / around AU$3,900
  • OLED55C3: $1,899 / £2,099 / around AU$2,830
  • OLED48C3 $1,499 / £1,599 / around AU$2,240
  • OLED42C3: $1,399 / £1,499 / around AU$2,100

The LG C3 series is the company’s mid-tier 4K OLED TV model, slotting in between the flagship G3 series and entry-level B3 series. Pricing so far has been announced for the US and the UK, but not for Australia. 

LG C3 OLED TV review: Specs

LG C3 OLED TV rear panel inputs

Back panel inputs include four side-mounted HDMI 2.1 ports (one with eARC), an optical digital output, and an antenna connection. (Image credit: Future)

LG C3 OLED TV review: features

  • webOS23 smart TV interface
  • Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG high dynamic range
  • HDMI 2.1 inputs with 4K 120Hz, VRR, and ALLM support

The C3 series is a feature-packed TV option, with a great mix of amenities for both movie fans and gamers. LG’s proprietary webOS 23 smart TV interface runs the show here, and it provides many of the best streaming apps, including Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, Hulu, Paramount Plus, Peacock, Youtube TV, and Spotify. 

You can use AirPlay 2 to cast video to the LG C3 from an iOS device, and it features Alexa built-in for hands-free voice control and also works with Siri and Hey Google.

LG’s new Alpha9 Gen6 chip is used for picture processing on C3 series sets, which have a 120Hz refresh rate. HDR support extends to Dolby Vision (Dolby Vision IQ), HDR10, and HLG, but not the HDR10+ format. 

The four HDMI 2.1 ports on C3 series TVs support 4K 120Hz input, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and enhanced audio return channel (on Input 2). A new HDMI feature called Quick Media Switching (QMS) is also making its debut on LG’s 2023 OLED models. When used with a source that also supports QMS, such as an Apple TV 4K streamer, this lets the C3 seamlessly match changes in video frame rates to prevent momentary screen blackouts when switching programs.

  • Features Score: 5/5  

LG C3 OLED smart interface shown from angle

It may not be the brightest OLED TV available, but the C3's picture looked perfectly fine even in a well-lit room. (Image credit: Future)

LG C3 OLED TV review: picture quality

  • Good brightness
  • Deep blacks with detailed shadows
  • Excellent picture detail

With the LG C3 in Filmmaker HDR mode, peak light output measured 830 nits, and it was 670 nits in Standard mode. That’s a slight improvement on last year’s C2, though it’s definitely overshadowed by the 70% brightness increase LG is claiming for its new flagship G3 series in comparison with more basic OLEDs like its B3 series. (The G3 series uses an optical component called Micro Lens Array, along with a new brightness-boosting algorithm called META, to achieve that high light output, which is one reason why G3 sets are priced significantly higher than C3 models.)

The LG’s color balance in its default Filmmaker mode was very accurate, with Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) of 3 or less for most of its brightness range. Coverage of DCI-P3 (the color space used for mastering 4K Blu-rays and digital cinema releases) was 98.9%, and BT.2020 coverage was 74.7%. These are excellent results that are typical of the best OLED TVs.

There was some screen glare from overhead lights, but it wasn’t much of a problem overall for the C3. Screen uniformity with white full-field test patterns was also excellent and color remained fully saturated at far off-center viewing positions. I found the set’s brightness to be perfectly adequate even for daytime viewing, and with lights dimmed, the picture had notably punchy contrast.

Watching the Netflix series 1899 with the TV set to Dolby Vision Cinema Home picture mode, the dark scenes in the ship’s boiler room showed endlessly deep blacks, with plenty of detail in the shadows. Above-board scenes where the passengers search the ship for the boy revealed a perfectly crisp and noise-free picture, with excellent delineation of skin tones among the disquieted crowd.

Moving on to something with more Dolby Vision HDR punch, I watched a scene from Elvis where The King performs his freewheeling Christmas special. The stage lights in the background popped in a dramatic manner and I could easily see the detail in Elvis’s black outfit. The yellows and reds in clothing worn by fans looked bright without being garish, while The King’s face had the correct artificial orange hue that TV studio makeup creates.

Playing GTA5 on Xbox Series X, the picture remained extremely solid as I drove around the city streets. The lurid colors of Michael’s home’s interior jumped out in an appealing manner, and textures and patterns were cleanly displayed.

Checking out the montage section of the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR test disc, the TV’s high contrast made images with a black background look near 3D-like. Viewing the clips mastered at 4,000 nits showed only minor highlight detail loss from HDR tone mapping, while the 1,000 nits version looked spectacularly good. OLED Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro, a Alpha9 Gen6 processor feature that divides pictures into 20,000 blocks and optimizes each in real time, was clearly  working some magic, and while I didn’t have a C2 OLED on hand to make a comparison, the C3 exceeded my memories of that model.

I took the opportunity here to play with the HDR Expression Enhancer feature and while it worked as advertised to dynamically boost brightness and detail, I found myself perfectly happy to leave it off. Yes, the LG C3’s basic picture performance is so good, there’s not much you need to mess with.

  • Picture quality score: 4.5/5

LG C3 OLED quick menu with sound output options

The C3's Quick Menu provides easy access to most-used settings and can be customized according to your needs. (Image credit: Future)

LG C3 OLED TV review: sound quality

  • 2.2 channels
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS support
  • Wow Orchestra mode

The C3 has a 2.2-channel built-in speaker system along with decoding for Dolby Atmos and DTS immersive soundtrack formats. An AI sound mixer feature also upscales stereo audio for Atmos output.

There’s the usual slew of sound modes such as Music, Cinema, Sports, etc., but the one that works best for most content is AI Sound Pro. The C3’s audio quality is fairly average for a TV: voices have a somewhat thin quality, and there’s not much in the way of bass. Dialogue comes across as clear, though, and the sound can hit loud levels if you push the volume.

A new LG feature, Wow Orchestra, lets you combine the output of the TV’s built-in speakers with an LG Dolby Atmos soundbar. The company sent me its new SC9 soundbar, a model that was designed specifically for the C3 TV, to test, and this gave me a chance to give Wow Orchestra a whirl. LG’s SC9 also comes with a combination bracket/TV stand that lets you mount it directly to 55-, 65-, and 77-inch C3 series TVs (along with C2 series models with the same screen size), and I used that as well for my review.

After selecting the Wow Orchestra option from the TV’s quick menu, I soon discovered that it wasn’t plug-and-play, with audio delay between the soundbar and the TV’s built-in speakers creating an echo effect. There’s an adjustment in the Advanced Setting menu to fix this, however, and once adjusted, the echo disappeared. I also found that with AI Sound Pro mode selected on the TV, the set’s built-in speakers had a tinny quality when Wow Orchestra was selected. In this case, switching to the Standard sound mode was the remedy, and I used that for the remainder of my test.

Once everything was sorted, Wow Orchestra worked really well to expand the soundfield with Dolby Atmos soundtracks. The 3.1.3-channel SC9 soundbar already provided a big improvement on the TV’s built-in audio, but combining the two made it even more immersive, and noticeably louder. I also liked the look of the SC9 mounted directly to the C3, with LG’s bracket providing a slight uplift from my TV stand’s surface that made it seem like it was levitating.

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

LG C3 OLED TV included stand

The C3's sturdy, aluminum-faced stand looks good and provides excellent support. (Image credit: Future)

LG C3 OLED TV review: design

  • New, lighter composite fiber construction
  • Aluminum stand with center placement
  • Magic Remote control

The C3 series has a composite fiber construction that’s more lightweight than last year’s C2 OLEDs. Its panel is thin, though the integrated input section adds a degree of bulk that you won’t find on the flagship G3 series. An included aluminum center-mounted stand has a good look and provides solid support for the TV, though I preferred the design of the stand that came with the SC9 soundbar, which provided a cable management option.

Along with its four HDMI 2.1 inputs, the C3 features an RF plug for connecting one of the best indoor TV antennas, an Ethernet port, an RS-232 mini-jack input, and three USB type-A ports.

LG’s Magic Remote controls an onscreen pointer that can click on apps and menu options and you can use it to scroll through them. It has a built-in mic for Alexa or Google voice commands, and there are quick access buttons for Netlix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, Sling TV, and the LG Channels free TV options. Using the Magic Remote is a very different experience than a typical TV handset, but it’s something you quickly get used to.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

LG C3 OLED smart TV interface

New tweaks to LG's webOS 23 smart TV interface include Quick Cards with themes based around gaming, music, smart home, and more. (Image credit: Future)

LG C3 OLED TV review: smart TV & menus

  • webOS 23 smart TV interface
  • Themed Quick Cards
  • Quick Menu eases adjustment process

LG’s webOS 23 smart TV interface has a pleasing, streamlined look and is now mercifully free of ads. A strip of apps lines the screen’s bottom and the order of these can be edited or automatically positioned by selecting the Intelligent Edit mode, which orders them by frequency of usage.

A new feature for LG’s smart interface is Quick Cards, with options for Home Office, Game, Music, Home Hub, and Sports. These let you store relevant apps according to theme, with Home Hub letting you configure LG or Matter-supported smart home devices for control via the TV, and Game giving you access to the set’s Nvidia GeForce Now and Utomik cloud gaming selections.

A Quick Menu pops up on the screen’s left side when you press the asterisk button on the remote control. This lets you easily switch picture modes and settings, change the sound output and settings, and access the Game Optimizer menu. The options that appear here can also be edited. A Multi View mode lets you display two sources side-by-side or in picture-in-picture format, though there are limitations on the type of content that can be displayed simultaneously.

Getting to the TV’s advanced settings for picture and sound is made easy with the Quick Menu – I didn’t have to endure endless button pushes to do something as simple as boost brightness. The advanced picture menu has an Expression Enhancer option, and while that’s a somewhat baffling name, what it basically does is dynamically adjust brightness to emphasize areas of focus onscreen, or apply the same process to emphasize detail.

  • Smart TV & menus score: 4.5/5

LG C3 OLED TV game menu overlaid on GTA 5 image

The C3's Game Dashboard lets you make quick and easy adjustments to gaming-related settings. (Image credit: Future)

LG C3 OLED TV review: gaming

  • Extensive gaming support
  • Nvidia GeForce Now and Utomik cloud gaming
  • Game Optimizer mode with Game Dashboard menu

The C3 series is very well outfitted for gaming, with 4K 120Hz, VRR, ALLM, FreeSync Premium Pro, and Nvidia G-Sync support. When its Game Optimizer picture mode is active a transparent Game Dashboard menu can be accessed that lets you adjust settings like game genre picture presets, VRR, and Black Stabilizer, and it also shows you frames-per-second data for the game you are playing.

Both Nvidia GeForce Now and Utomik cloud gaming can be accessed from within the Game card in the C3’s smart interface, giving you access to a wide range of titles for cloud-based gaming.

With the TV in Game Optimizer mode with the Low Latency setting turned on I measured 9.2ms input lag (Boost mode) – a great result and one that ranks the C3 among the best gaming TVs

  • Gaming score: 5/5

LG C3 OLED remote control held in hand

LG's Magic Remote offers point-and-click and scrolling control options to navigate the set's menus and interface. (Image credit: Future)

LG C3 OLED TV review: value

  • Similar cost as last year’s C2
  • Great performance and features for price
  • Meaningful smart UI improvements

 The LG C3’s value ultimately depends on what you expect from a TV – and how much you’re willing to pay for a model that meets those expectations. 

Performance-wise, the C3 roughly matches what we saw from last year’s C2. Image processing has improved, and there’s a resulting slight increase in peak light output and perceived contrast. The WebOS interface has also received meaningful design tweaks to make it more streamlined, and there are useful additions such as the themed Quick Cards for accessing games, smart home control, and more.

I think that anyone looking for a TV with fantastic picture quality and a full range of features will find the C3 to be a good value, and if the price trajectory of last year’s C2 is any indication, it will cost even less as we approach the holiday season. But anyone looking to save money will find the C2 to be an equally good option, though one with a less refined user interface, and a somewhat less refined picture.

  • Value score: 4.5/5 

LG C3 OLED TV showing orange butterfly onscreen

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the LG C3 OLED TV?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if…

Also consider...

LG C2 OLED
LG’s C2 series OLED TV offers nearly equivalent performance to the C3 in most respects, though it has a less refined smart TV interface and less advanced picture processing. You’ll save a good deal by picking up a C2 and we’re sure you’ll be happy with it.

How I tested the LG C3 OLED TV

LG C3 OLED TV showing image of sunset on water onscreen

(Image credit: Future)
  • I spent about 15 hours measuring and evaluating the LG C3 OLED TV
  • Measurements were made using Calman color calibration software
  • A full calibration was made before proceeding with subjective tests

 

When I test TVs, my first step is to spend a few days using it for casual viewing for break-in and to assess the out-of-box picture presets. The next step is to select the most accurate-looking preset (typically labeled Movie or Cinema) and measure the white balance (grayscale), gamma, and color point accuracy using Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. The resulting measurements provide Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) for each category, and they allow for an assessment of the TV’s overall accuracy.

Along with those tests, I make measurements of peak light output (recorded in nits) for both standard high-definition and 4K high dynamic range using a 10% white window pattern. Coverage of DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space is also measured, with the results providing a sense of how faithfully the TV can render the extended color range in ultra high-definition sources.

For the LG C3 series OLED TV, I used the CalMan ISF workflow, along with the advanced picture menu settings in the set’s Filmmaker mode, to calibrate the image for best accuracy with SDR and HDR sources. Once done, I watched a range of reference scenes on 4K Blu-ray discs that I’ve gathered after years of TV and projector testing to assess the TV’s performance, as well as new Dolby Vision-encoded material streamed from sources like Netflix and HBO Max.

  • First reviewed: March 28, 2023

One welcome change to the C3 (as well as the other models) is a new version of webOS that has some great new organization features. It's inching more to becoming like Android (on phones, not TVs) with a new notification icon at the top now, so any useful messages can be found easily, and can stay out of your way the rest of the time. You also now have the ability to group any apps you have into folders.