The HT-S2000 is Sony's entry-level 3.1-channel soundbar. Initially priced at $499 / £449 / AU$695, it’s a compact, all-in-one model with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, with the height effects in both immersive soundtrack formats delivered using virtual processing.
Sony’s design for the HT-S2000 uses five speakers: three for the left, right and center channels as well as two dedicated woofers for the bass. Connections include HDMI (with eARC/ARC) and optical digital audio inputs. There’s also a USB type-A port to play music on connected USB drives. Unlike some of the best soundbars, the HT-S2000 doesn’t support music streaming using Wi-Fi or AirPlay, though its Bluetooth 5.2 support will let you play music wirelessly from a phone. For those looking to expand their soundbar’s capabilities in the future, the HT-S2000 can also be paired with Sony’s optional wireless surround speakers and subwoofers.
Sony’s soundbar has solid build quality and a sleek, no-nonsense look. It’s easy to set up, and Sony provides its own Home Entertainment app to help with that task – it also lets you tweak the sound for your specific installation. There are a range of Sound EQ modes, including automatic volume levelling, that can be accessed using either the app of Sony’s bundled remote control. The HT-S2000 also features Sony’s proprietary Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround processing, both of which work to enhance the level of audio immersion coming from the soundbar’s basic 3.1-channel speaker array.
The HT-S2000’s overall performance is great for the price. It delivers dialogue that sounds consistently clear even when pushed to a high level, and bass output is better-than average for an all-in-one soundbar. Sony’s proprietary processing allows for the height effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks to extend beyond and above the screen boundaries of a TV the soundbar is connected to and there’s also a notably good surround sound ‘wrap-around’ effect when the S-Force Pro Front Surround feature is active.
When it was first released, the HT-S2000 wasn’t the strongest value as it lacked features found in some of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars selling for the same price, such as up-firing speakers and built-in Wi-Fi for lossless music streaming. But the HT-S2000 has since widely dropped in price to $349 / £299, making it a much more compelling value, especially given its performance.
Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: price and release date
Released in March 2023
$499 / £449 / AU$695
Sony’s HT-S2000 soundbar was released in March 2023 at an initial price of $499 / £449 / AU$695. Its price has since dropped to $349 in the US and £299 in the UK, though it’s still selling for AU$695 in Australia.
In the Sony 2023 soundbar lineup, the HT-S2000 sits below the HT-A2000, another 3.1-channel model that adds Wi-Fi streaming along with Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2 support.
Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: features
Dolby Atmos and DTS: X support
HDMI and optical digital connections
Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround processing
The HT-S2000 is a 3.1-channel soundbar with support for the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio formats, which it delivers using virtual processing. It doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi for streaming, though you can stream music to it over a Bluetooth wireless connection.
Two Sony audio processing features found on the HT-S2000 are Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround. The first helps to elevate sound effects, music and dialogue to screen level or even above where they will sound more natural. The second provides a virtual ‘wrap-around’ so that surround effects sound like they are coming from the sides of the room.
Connection options on the HT-S2000 are basic. It has an HDMI-eARC port for connecting to a TV, an optical digital audio input, and a USB type-A port that can be used to play music files stored on a USB drive. Like other soundbars from brands including Sonos, Bose, Samsung, and LG, the HT-S2000 can be expanded by adding Sony’s wireless surround sound speakers and subwoofers.
Features score: 4/5
Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: sound quality
Very good dialogue clarity
Spacious virtual surround
Sounds good with music
A key benefit of the Sony soundbar is its handling of dialogue in movies and TV shows. Watching a few dialogue-heavy scenes from Top Gun: Maverick, voices sounded clean, and I could push the volume to relatively high levels without it sounding edgy. For comparison’s sake, I swapped out the Sony with a 2.1-channel model and found dialogue in the same Top Gun: Maverick scene to be significantly less clean-sounding. The comparison demonstrated the advantage to using a soundbar like the HT-S2000 with a dedicated center-channel speaker, which is a feature that 2.1-channel soundbars lack.
Skipping ahead to the aerial dogfight scene in Top Gun: Maverick, Sony's soundbar sorted the dialogue, music (The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again) and sound effects in an impressively clear manner. There was also a decent amount of bass, which enhanced the sound of drums in the music and added definition to the trajectory of the fighter jets. The soundbar’s virtual processing made height effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks like Top Gun exceed the height of my TV’s screen. And while the presentation wasn’t as expansive as what I’ve experienced with soundbars featuring dedicated Atmos speakers, it still had a satisfying level of immersion.
Music also sounded surprisingly good on the HT-S2000, especially given its low price. It’s possible to listen to plain stereo with the soundbar’s virtual processing disabled, but pressing the Sound Field button on the remote control adds a level of spaciousness that enhances the stereo separation without making voices and instruments sound unnatural. Equally important, it elevates the presentation in the vertical dimension so that the sound doesn’t appear to be coming from a horizontal bar located beneath your TV’s screen.
Sound quality score: 4/5
Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: design
Above-average build quality
Alphanumeric front-panel display
The HT-S2000 has a compact, all-in-one soundbar, measuring 31.5 inches wide by 2.5 inches high and 5.25 inches deep. Build quality is a cut above most budget soundbars, with the Sony’s sturdy black plastic cabinet fronted by a metal mesh grille. Ports located on the soundbar’s left and right sides allow for enhanced bass output, while its X-Balanced Speaker Unit design physically aligns the 3.25 x 1.8-inch drivers and 3.75 x 1.8 woofers to reduce distortion.
Capacitive controls on the HT-S2000’s top surface let you adjust volume and connect with Bluetooth devices, and there’s also a small remote with additional controls to switch inputs, select sound EQ modes, and adjust the bass level. Sony’s soundbar conveniently provides visual feedback to remote control commands via its alphameric front panel display. That feature is one you don’t regularly find on lower-cost soundbars, and it’s a superior option to basic LED lights.
Design score: 4.5/5
Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: usability and setup
HDMI eARC/ARC connection to TV
No voice assistant support
The HT-S2000’s single HDMI input makes the setup process simple. Just connect it to a TV’s HDMI eARC (or ARC) port, select that input on the soundbar, and you’re ready to roll. Another option is to use the soundbar’s optical digital input, but that connection type doesn’t support Dolby Atmos or the HDMI-CEC control that lets you adjust the soundbar’s volume level using the TV’s remote control.
Sony’s Home Entertainment control app duplicates all the functions of the soundbar’s hardware remote and also provides a range of setup options for initial installation and performance. The latter includes an A/V sync adjustment, automatic volume level adjustment, and DTS Virtual:X to enhance basic stereo or mono soundtracks.
The soundbar’s alphanumeric front panel display makes using it super-easy as you don’t have to rely on a sequence of flashing LEDs to let you know what input or sound mode is selected. There’s no voice assistant support as on some other soundbars in the HT-S2000’s price range such as the Bose Smart Soundbar, but that’s not a feature I imagine most users will rely on, especially when using their TV’s remote control for volume adjustment.
Usability and setup score: 4.5/5
Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: value
Very good performance for the money
Lacks Wi-Fi and AirPlay streaming options
At its initial $499 / £449 / AU$695 price, the Sony HT-S2000’s overall value proposition was just average. It faced very strong competition from the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), another all-in-one soundbar with virtual Dolby Atmos processing, and one with a built-in Wi-Fi for app-based control and audio streaming. Another competitor was the Bose Smart Soundbar 600, which provides upfiring drivers to deliver height effects in Atmos soundtracks and also features built-in Wi-Fi for streaming.
At the time of writing, however, the HT-S2000’s price has widely dropped to $349 in the US and £299 in the UK, making it a much better value given its overall performance and features. Being able to stream uncompressed music directly to the Sonos or Bose from a phone using Wi-Fi or using AirPlay does boost the value of both, but many people mainly use their soundbar for TV audio and are okay with a lesser quality Bluetooth option for their occasional music streaming. For those folks, the HT-S2000 will be the perfect entry-level soundbar.
Value score: 4.5/5
Should I buy the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar?
Buy it if…
Don't buy it if…
Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: Also consider
How I tested the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar
Evaluated using both 4K Blu-ray discs and streamed sources
Break-in time allowed before critical listening
Tested using reference movie scenes and music tracks
I tested the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar in a 12 x 16 x 9-foot room using a 4K Blu-ray player, Apple TV 4K, and music streamed from my iPhone via Bluetooth and the Tidal app on the Apple TV 4K. I allowed it to break in by watching movies and TV shows before settling in for more critical listening using reference movie clips and music tracks.
The key things I listened for with movies were dialogue clarity, bass definition, and a sense of spaciousness with the soundbar's surround mode engaged. For music, I paid attention to the naturalness of the sound with acoustic instruments and voices, as well as the dynamics in louder tracks.
Having reviewed many soundbars in the same room over the years, I have a reference sound standard that the Sony HT-S2000 was compared to. For further comparison, I also used an Amazon Fire TV Soundbar, switching between the two compact models on identical movie clips and music tracks.
The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is the company’s first soundbar, and as with other Amazon-branded products, it arrives at a competitive price point of just $119. It's currently only available in the US, though. Amazon’s offering is about as basic as a soundbar gets. It has a 2.0-channel speaker array and both HDMI and optical digital ports for a TV hookup, along with Bluetooth for music streaming.
There are many features found on the best soundbars that Amazon could have added to its model to make it a more compelling option – built-in Wi-Fi, for example. That specific feature would have given Fire TV users the ability to create a wireless, voice-controlled ‘Alexa Home Theater’ as they can with the company’s Echo wireless speakers. As it stands, even though Amazon claims its soundbar is ‘designed to work with Fire TV’, there are no specific Fire TV-related features. This is a cheap, basic soundbar that works with any TV featuring an HDMI eARC/ARC or optical digital connection.
Amazon’s soundbar has a compact design, and its build quality is good for the price. It provides Movie, Music and dialogue-boosting EQ modes, all selectable using the supplied remote control. There’s also DTS:Virtual X processing to expand the sound for movies and TV shows with surround-encoded soundtracks.
Sound quality is surprisingly good for the cost. Music sounds decent enough when played at reasonable levels. Eeven though bass is limited, movie soundtracks are strongly enhanced when the virtual processing is enabled, with the sound expanding well beyond the confines of the soundbar and TV screen. Dialogue is for the most part clear, though male voices can sound too heavy with the bar’s Bass setting, which is otherwise optimized for movie playback.
An advantage to the Fire TV Soundbar is that it’s easy to set up and use. If you're simply looking for a basic, low-cost soundbar to improve upon your TV’s built-in speakers that you can just set and forget, it will do the trick. As for value, you can find other equally good options for around the same price, so Amazon’s first real home theater audio offering isn’t exactly setting the budget soundbar space on fire. But that situation could change come Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday, when the Fire TV Soundbar is likely to see the same deep discounts that other Amazon-branded products typically get.
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: price and release date
Released in September 2023
Priced at $119
Limited to the US
The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar was released in September 2023 and is priced at $119. At present, it’s only available in the US.
Amazon appears to have designed its first soundbar as a basic, low-cost audio upgrade for its Fire TV lineup, but it can also be used with any TV. At just $119, its price competition includes cheap, off-brand soundbars as well as the Roku Streambar, a higher spec offering with built-in streaming capabilities.
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: features
Dolby Audio and DTS:Virtual X processing
HDMI and optical digital connections
Bluetooth wireless streaming
Amazon’s soundbar is about as basic as soundbars get, with a 2.0 speaker array and HDMI and optical digital audio ports for connecting to a TV. There is no built-in Wi-Fi to enable audio streaming from phones or tablets using AirPlay 2 or Chromecast, though Bluetooth wireless streaming is supported.
At $119, you wouldn’t expect a soundbar to have Dolby Atmos support, even of the virtualized type, and the Fire TV Soundbar not surprisingly doesn’t. What it does support is Dolby Audio, which here ends up being 2-channel Dolby Digital with sound processing to enhance detail and normalize volume levels when switching between TV channels or sources.
Along with Dolby Audio, the Fire TV Soundbar has DTS:Virtual X processing and Movies, Music and Dialogue EQ modes.
Features score: 3/5
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: sound quality
Good overall dialogue clarity
Spacious virtual surround
Light on bass
When I first plugged in the Fire TV Soundbar, I was happy to note that it provided a strong sound quality boost over the built-in speakers of the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED TV I connected it to. Dialogue clarity received an immediate boost, and there was a spaciousness and heft to the sound that wasn’t there previously.
Watching scenes from the sci-fi film District 9, the interviews dispersed throughout the action sounded full-bodied, and so did the comments from Vikus as he wandered around the alien compound. With the Surround mode switched off, effects in the movie’s soundtrack were constricted, but when I switched it on, helicopters and machine gun fire sounds expanded beyond the TV’s screen and there was a naturalistic sense of ambience.
When I next watched a scene from Top Gun: Maverick where Maverick is disciplined by Rear Admiral Chester ‘Hammer’ Cain, I found that the dialogue, while mostly clear, was too bass-heavy, with a ‘boomy’ quality. Checking the soundbar’s Bass setting, the medium option was selected, so I dialed it back to low. The effect of that change was to thin out the overall balance of the sound, so I decided to switch back to medium and live with too-boomy dialogue.
For comparison’s sake I swapped out Amazon’s soundbar with a Sony HTS2000 soundbar ($500 / £449 / around AU$788), a 3.1-channel model with virtual Dolby Atmos processing, and found dialogue in the same Top Gun: Maverick scene to be significantly cleaner-sounding with the Sony’s medium bass level selected. The comparison demonstrated the advantage to using a soundbar with a dedicated center-channel speaker, which is a feature that 2.0-channel models like the Fire TV Soundbar lack.
Otherwise, I was impressed with how effectively the Fire TV soundbar’s DTS:Virtual X processing widened the soundscape on Top Gun: Maverick and other movies, and did so without negatively affecting other elements in the audio mix such as music and dialogue. Bass was one area where I found the Amazon bar to be lacking, especially in comparison to the much more expensive Sony model. But given the Amazon’s compact design, the amount of bass it did deliver was actually better than expected.
I don’t expect music to sound great on budget soundbars and the Amazon Fire TV soundbar didn’t do much to change my mind. That being said, when I streamed Endless Time by The Weather Station using the Tidal app on the Omni QLED TV, the song’s simple Joni Mitchell-like piano and vocal presentation sounded smooth and natural. There was also a good sense of spaciousness with the Surround mode enabled. Other, more dynamic music I played sounded a bit harsh and congested with the volume pushed to a high level, though it was comparatively fine with the volume dialed back to a normal listening level.
Sound quality score: 3.5/5
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: design
Remote control included
Front-panel LED indicator lights
The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is a lightweight and highly compact design, measuring just 24-inches wide by 2.5-inches high and 3.5-inches deep. Its black plastic cabinet has rounded edges and is fronted by a black mesh grille. A row of control buttons are located on the top surface that let you adjust volume, select inputs, pair the soundbar with Bluetooth devices, and power it on and off.
An equally compact remote control is packaged with buttons to adjust volume, switch inputs as well as select the EQ, bass and virtual surround sound modes. Remote commands trigger a sequence of LEDs on the soundbar's front, with one to three lights indicating the volume level range, for example. There’s also voice confirmation when selecting EQ modes, with a robot-like (not Alexa) voice telling you if Dialogue, Music, or Movie mode is selected.
Design score: 3.5/5
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: usability and setup
HDMI eARC/ARC connection to TV
Easy Bluetooth pairing
No alphanumeric front panel display
Given the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar’s basic design, setup poses no challenges. You simply connect it to your TV’s HDMI eARC/ARC port or optical digital output, and Amazon even gives you an HDMI cable to speed things along. Once an HDMI connection is made, you can use your TV’s remote control to adjust volume instead of the one supplied with the soundbar.
Pairing a Bluetooth device like a phone is equally simple. You just press the Bluetooth button on the soundbar’s control strip and a blue LED starts pulsing to indicate it’s in pairing mode. You then check the Bluetooth setup menu on your phone or tablet, select the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar, and you’re ready to stream.
Audio features such as EQ modes, bass level, and surround sound can be easily accessed from the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar’s remote control. A drawback to inexpensive soundbars like this one, however, is having to rely on LED light sequences instead of an alphanumeric display (or a control app) to make adjustments. But these proved easy enough to work with on the Fire TV Soundbar and having voice confirmation when switching EQ modes made things that much easier.
Usability and setup score: 4/5
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: value
Good overall value
Faces strong budget competition
Look for Prime Day and Black Friday discounts
The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is one of the least expensive options on the market, although you can also buy a 2.0-channel model from Sony or a 2.1-channel system with a wireless subwoofer from Vizio for even less than the $119 Amazon is charging here. And spending a bit more will get you the Roku Streambar, a model with the Roku streaming platform built-in that can be expanded with the company’s wireless surround speakers and subwoofer.
Nevertheless, given its good design and decent overall sound, Amazon’s soundbar ranks fairly high for value. You’d have to step up to the $500 range to get reliably better performance, along with extras like Dolby Atmos support via virtual processing or upward-firing speakers. And while I strongly feel that better sound is worth extra money, not everyone wants to spend that much to improve their TV’s built-in audio. For those who instead think around $100 is the right price, the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is a solid budget-bar option.
While Amazon’s soundbar is a good deal at its current price, the company typically offers substantial cost reductions on its Fire TV products both on Prime Day and during the Black Friday sales. Should the Fire TV soundbar get a 25% or better price cut during either of those events, which I expect it will, its overall value will get a strong boost.
Value score: 4/5
Should I buy the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar?
Buy it if…
Don't buy it if…
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: Also consider
How I tested the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar
Evaluated using both 4K Blu-ray discs and streamed sources
Break-in time allowed before critical listening
Tested using reference movie scenes and music tracks
I tested the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar in a 12 x 16 x 9-foot room using a 4K Blu-ray player, Apple TV 4K, and music streamed from Tidal via an Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED TV as sources. I allowed it to break in by watching movies and TV shows before settling in for more critical listening using reference movie clips and music tracks.
The key things I listened for with movies were dialogue clarity, bass definition, and a sense of spaciousness with the soundbar's surround mode engaged. For music, I paid attention to the naturalness of the sound with acoustic instruments and voices, as well as the dynamics in louder tracks.
Having reviewed many soundbars in the same room over the years, I have a reference sound standard that the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar was compared to. For further comparison, I also used a Sony HT-S2000 all-in-one soundbar, switching between the two compact models on identical movie clips and music tracks.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 review: Gaming
4K, Dolby Vision gaming support
Game Optimizer mode for better gaming performance
Only two HDMI2.1 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 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.
Should I buy the LG B3
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
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.
The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini arrives as the smallest, most affordable member of what is now a three-strong family of Sennheiser Ambeo soundbars. What it lacks in stature, though, it makes up for in asking price – this is not an especially budget-conscious option, especially when you consider how much the best of its size-comparable rivals cost.
The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini goes a long way to justifying its asking price even before you hear it, though. Its six-driver speaker array is powered by 250 watts, has the grunt to reach down to a claimed 43Hz at the bottom of the frequency range without a subwoofer, and is subject to some very thorough virtualization technology in an effort to extract a true sense of Dolby Atmos spatial audio from a soundbar with no dedicated upfiring drivers. And all this is concealed inside a discreet, well-made cabinet that’s never going to draw attention to itself.
And there’s the choice of control options. Between the Smart Control app, the full-size remote control handset, built-in Amazon Alexa voice-control and some integrated touch controls, you’re not short of options here – and they’re all beautifully realized and eminently usable in a way that not all of the best soundbars manage.
Performance, though, is where a product like this lives or dies – and in almost every respect, the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini is alive and kicking. Literally kicking where bass response is concerned; the amount of drive and punch it can summon is remarkable given the compact proportions of its cabinet. It creates a big, open soundstage, piles on the details at every point, and is able to project dialogue to the front without it ever sounding remote or estranged.
It’s even pretty adept at generating an impression of spatial audio from 5.1 or even two-channel movie content when Dolby Atmos isn't available, although trying to pretend a stereo music file consists of 12 channels proves a bridge too far.
Only the rather modest sensation of true "height" to its soundstage prevents the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini waltzing off with full marks. Or, rather, it’s the combination of this slight reticence along with pricing that suggests it should nail every area that holds it back just a little. If it sounded just a little taller, or if it were just a little less expensive, the Ambeo Mini would be approaching "no-brainer" status. As it is, if you have a TV of 40 inches to 55 inches, and the budget, it should be a seriously tempting option.
As it is, you've got an interesting choice of small subwoofer-free soundbars between this, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 if you want great fidelity for a lower price (and an even less wide size), or the Bose Smart Soundbar 600 if you want real Dolby Atmos height from a small soundbar, though without the bass of the Ambeo.
Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Price & release date
Release date: 1 September 2023
Price: $799 / £699 / AU$1,299
The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini is on sale across the world from 1st September 2023. In the United Kingdom it sells for £699, while in the United States the going rate is $799. Customers in Australia will need to part with AU$1299 to acquire one.
Yes, this is the most affordable of Sennheiser’s three-strong Ambeo range of soundbars – but that’s not the same thing as being fully affordable, not really. This pricing puts the Ambeo Mini notably above the likes of the compact Sonos Beam Gen 2 or Bose Smart Soundbar 600, and pushes it nearly into competition with the likes of the Sonos Arc, which is much bigger and even better equipped for spatial sound. But if you wanted big, you probably wouldn't be looking at the Mini, right?
Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Specs
Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Features
250 watts, 43Hz - 20kHz frequency response
7.1.4-channel virtualized sound
Only one HDMI port
It’s not, strictly speaking, a feature but more of an ambition: the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini intends to create an impression of 7.1.4 -channel spatial audio using just six speaker drivers and a whole lot of complicated virtualization technology developed in conjunction with Fraunhofer. And that means every worthwhile spatial audio standard out there, too – the Ambeo Mini is compatible with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, MPEG-H and 360 Reality Audio.
Two of the six drivers are upward-facing 102mm (four-inch) bass drivers that offer low-frequency extension down to a claimed 43Hz. The other four are 38mm (1.5-inch) full-range affairs – there is one at either end of the chassis, positioned to create some sonic width, and two more fire forwards. All six drivers are made of cellulose, and all six contribute to the virtualized "top" effects that ought to allow the Ambeo Mini to create a sensation of height to its presentation.
Class D amplification supplies the power, and there’s a total of 250 watts on tap. Sennheiser isn’t saying exactly how it’s divided, but then again, Sonos doesn’t even like to say how much power is on board its soundbars, so I guess we should be grateful for any information that Sennheiser supplies…
As far as connectivity is concerned, the Ambeo Mini has ample wireless options, and just the essentials as far as physical connections go. An HDMI eARC and a USB-A slot sit alongside a power socket, a ‘reset’ button and a ‘setup’ button in a recess on the rear of the chassis – and that's it in terms of the physical stuff. The lack of HDMI passthrough may conceivably be a deal-breaker for some people, especially as quite a few similarly priced alternatives include it – and the kinds of smaller TV that this is aimed at are more likely to have fewer HDMI ports.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 (with SBC and AAC codec compatibility) cover off the bulk of the wireless stuff, and there is compatibility with UPnP, the Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast. The last couple mean that the Ambeo Mini can easily become part of a multi-room audio system.
Features score: 4.5/5
Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Audio performance
Remarkable low-frequency presence and control
Sound is far bigger than the product’s physical dimensions
Not the most spatial of spatial audio presentations
The Ambeo Mini wastes no time in calibrating itself to your specific environment, and once it’s done so there are numerous positives about the way it goes about churning out the sound of movies and music alike.
It goes without saying that the best results come from the best sources – and when given the Dolby Atmos soundtrack to a UHD 4K Blu-ray disc of Dune to deal with, you’ll quite quickly forget the "mini" aspect of the Ambeo Mini and concentrate on the mightiness of its presentation.
Most immediately, its low-frequency punch and presence is almost startling. 43Hz is deep, sure – but the bass the Sennheiser generates is so solid, so controlled and so full of variation that it sounds even deeper, somehow. Sennheiser is pleased with the fact that you can connect as many as four optional wireless Ambeo subwoofers to the Mini (and in our experience with the Sennheiser Ambeo Plus, using three subs can be an amazing time), but unless you are setting up your soundbar in a big, vaulted space I’d seriously question whether you need even one, let alone four.
Mid-range fidelity is impressive – the center channel of audio information is always the most critical, and the Ambeo Mini delivers it with authority, packing voices with detail and character. It projects well, even when the low end is strutting its stuff, and is able to retain plenty of information about tone and texture even when the soundtrack is at its most bullish. And despite the lack of dedicated tweeters here, the Sennheiser has ample bite and brilliance at the top of the frequency range, along with the requisite levels of detail.
The whole of the frequency range hands together well and, although the Ambeo Mini is undoubtedly working its socks off to create what says is a facsimile of 12 channels of information using just six drivers, there’s a coherence to the way it delivers the Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The soundstage it creates is way bigger than the soundbar from which it emanates, and long-travel effects move around the stage in pretty convincing fashion.
What there isn’t a huge amount of, though, is sonic height to the sound. Yes, the Sennheiser can put sound upwards with reasonable success – but even when accompanying a 48-inch OLED TV (for which the Ambeo Mini is the perfect size to fit between its feet), sound never really gets above the television’s top bezel. This slight lack of upward projection will be familiar to anyone who’s heard the (similarly sized, much more affordable) Sonos Beam Gen 2.
In every other respect, though, the Ambeo Mini has the better of the size-comparable Sonos. It’s more dynamic, and able to make you jump when the hissed exposition switches suddenly to almighty action sequence. It’s more open, able to create greater width across the front of the soundstage and position effects more precisely. And it’s more punchy, too. Quite a lot more punchy.
Watching soccer highlights over streaming, Sennheiser’s Ambeo virtualization technology does impressive work in hacking even a mild sensation of spatial audio from a stereo source. The stage is still big, detail levels are still high, and the "smack" as boot addresses ball is profound. Switch off the Ambeo processing and the sensation of scale pretty much disappears – although this is still a fuller and more enjoyable sound than most TVs have a hope of delivering by themselves.
Using Tidal Connect to stream a Dolby Atmos file of You Ain’t No Celebrity by Jungle featuring Roots Manuva lets the Ambeo Mini once again demonstrate its powers of resolution, of even-handed frequency response, of prodigious low-end presence and control, and of simple scale. The sound is open and well-separated, but unified and focused at the same time – and the virtualization technology does good work in summoning up authentic width and a degree of height to the sound.
Use Bluetooth to stream a two-channel file of Grouper’s Alien Observer and the Ambeo technology can’t prevent a little vagueness creeping into the presentation as it attempts to open the recording up and out as much as possible. Ultimately, it’s better – or, more accurately, more convincing – to leave stereo music unvirtualized. You miss out on sheer size, but the sound has greater accuracy.
Sound quality score: 4.5/5
Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Design
Mostly plastic and cloth construction
Slightly wider than Sonos Beam
Suitable for TVs of 40 inches and up
If you’re even remotely familiar with Sennheiser’s recent Ambeo Plus soundbar or the Sonos Beam Gen 2, you already have a good idea of what the Ambeo Mini is like in terms of design.
In its cloth-wrapped plastic construction and its slanted top panel, the Ambeo Mini looks just like – hey! – a miniature version of the Ambeo Plus. And its dimensions are very similar to those of the Sonos Gen 2, though it's slightly wider and slightly shorter, both of which are fine in our book.
As you might imagine, the quality of build and finish here is basically impeccable. Everything is put together flawlessly, and the Ambeo Mini is made from materials that are durable and even quite tactile. There’s nothing luxurious about the Ambeo Mini, and it’s hard to make a product as functional as a soundbar stand out in design terms… but nevertheless there’s something quite appealing about its combination of discretion and purposefulness.
Some may wish for more than one choice of finish, of course – but Sennheiser has long been of the opinion that Henry "any color you like as long as it’s black" Ford was onto something.
Design score: 4.5/5
Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Setup & usability
Automatic room calibration
Voice, app and remote control
Numerous listening modes
Credit where credit is due: Sennheiser has made setting up the Ambeo Mini about as straightforward and painless as is realistically possible.
Put the soundbar in position. Make your power connection and hook the HDMI eARC socket to the corresponding connection on your TV – and you’re all set. Then it’s simply a question of opening the Smart Control app and letting the automatic room calibration routine do its thing. A fairly brief selection of test tones plays while the app assures you that all is well, and then the Ambeo Mini is optimized for the position in which it finds itself. And it’s easy to recalibrate should the need arise.
Once the Ambeo Mini is set up, controlling it is equally straightforward no matter which of the numerous interaction options you prefer. The control app itself is typically Sennheiser, in as much as it’s flawlessly realized, clear and logical, and covers every realistic eventuality.
As well as the ability to switch the Ambeo virtualization technology on or off, there are six EQ settings (from "adaptive" to "neutral" via "music" and "movie"), a "night mode" that squashes dynamic response and "voice enhancement" that pushes the center channel information forward. Input selection, software updates and all the rest are available here too.
There’s a brief selection of capacitive touch controls on the slanted top of the soundbar which cover most major functions – and there’s a mute button to disable the four in-built mics. As well as calibration, these mics handle voice control, so if you want to use your Ambeo Mini simply by talking to it, Amazon Alexa is built in and Google Assistant is also available if you’ve appropriate speakers on a common network.
Or you may prefer the old-school charms of a remote-control handset. The wand supplied with the Ambeo Mini is tactile and angular, and covers more-or-less everything in terms of day-to-day control of the soundbar. Its labels could be larger, sure, and some backlighting wouldn’t go amiss… but it’s fair to say that some more expensive soundbars are supplied with much less satisfactory remote controls.
Setup & usability: 5/5
Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Value
Big, authoritative sound with no need for a subwoofer
Exemplary build and finish, great control options
Cannot help but seem just a little too expensive
The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini seems just a little expensive. A small part of that is down to the sheer size of the product – because for all that it is beautifully built and finished from materials that seem durable, and has several well-realized control options, perceived wisdom is that soundbars this small don’t cost this much money and/or soundbars costing this much money are bigger than this.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with paying a premium price for a more manageably sized soundbar, especially if you don’t have that big a room to fill with sound and if you don't want a separate subwoofer – but it still needs to outperform more affordable alternatives in every department.
As it is, though, the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini outperforms its more affordable alternatives in almost every department – if it could just summon a little more sonic height when it's doing its Ambeo thing, the value for money here would be excellent. Instead, it's merely good value – which is not a problem at all, if it's within your budget.
Value score: 4/5
Should I buy the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Also consider
How I tested the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini
Tested for over a week
Tested with Blu-ray and streaming
Reviewed in a standard living space
The Sennheiser Ambeo Mini has been positioned between the feet of a 48-inchin Philips OLED TV for over a week, and it’s been used for at least a few hours every day – some of that is critical listening, some is simply sitting down in front of the TV to unwind. The room is open-plan, which means side boundaries are fairly distant, but the ceiling is not especially high – so the fact the Ambeo Mini can create plenty of sonic width is particularly commendable, while the relative lack of sonic height isn’t.
Content of all kinds has been through the Sennheiser, from native uncompressed Dolby Atmos tracks via a UHD 4K Blu-ray player, to more compressed Atmos from Netflix and Disney Plus. Music has come in high-end form from Tidal Connect, and I've watched broadcast TV or streaming services for standard stereo viewing.
Despite some pre-launch mystery about how the Samsung S90C QD-OLED model would differentiate itself from the more expensive Samsung S95C QD-OLED model, it turns out the cheaper option has absolutely nothing to be shy about.
The Samsung S90C sets your pulse racing right away by boasting an insanely thin panel design, at least at its edges. It gets chunkier in its mid section, due to it not shipping with the external connections box the S95C gets, but I still think some people will actually prefer the cheaper model’s design overall.
Its connectivity impressively supports full 4K 120Hz and variable refresh rate gaming graphics across all four of its HDMIs, while its smart TV system carries all the streaming services anyone could want. The smart interface still feels convoluted to use, though, despite some refinements from its 2022 appearance.
It’s clear as soon as you start watching it that the S90C is not as bright as the S95C models at the same size. In fact, it’s around 20% less bright, comparing our measurements here to what we saw in our Samsung S95C review. Once you’ve got to grips with that, though, you start to realise that this is pretty much the only way its pictures fall short of those of its more expensive sibling. In fact, I can imagine some home theater fans perhaps preferring the S90Cs slightly gentler but arguably more consistent-feeling images, assuming you have control of the ambient light. And it's still brighter than almost all the other best OLED TVs, including big hitters such as the LG C3.
We tested the 55-inch version of the S95C, and note that while it comes in 65-inch and 77-inch versions that are also QD-OLED, it actually uses WOLED technology (aka, 'regular' OLED, of the kind of you find in the LG C3 or Sony A80L) rather than QD-OLED for the 83-inch version – so you shouldn’t take this review as representative of the 83-inch version's performance. That model will almost certainly be much less bright.
While the S90C’s sound is more unequivocally a step down from that of the S95C models, finally, it’s still a healthy improvement on the sound quality of its 2022 QD-OLED predecessor, the Samsung S95B. And better, again, than most mid-range TVs – though the Sony A80L is a strong competitor there.
The Samsung S90C is specifically designed to offer a more affordable route into Samsung’s exciting new QD-OLED TV technology – so its price really matters. At the time of writing, the 55-inch version we tested is available for £1,799 in the UK, $1,599 in the US and $3,299 in Australia – prices that make it majorly cheaper than the S95C, with enough left over for a very nice soundbar. I’ll talk more about its value later, but on principle those savings look substantial enough to, as billed, make the S90C a potential option for a whole different market to the S95C – especially because, as you can see, it's available for even cheaper than its official price.
There are 65 and 77-inch QD-OLED versions of the S90C available too, which at the time of writing cost $2,099 / £2,499 / AU$4,299 and $3,199 / £3,599 / AU$6,799 respectively. The new 83-inch addition to the S90C range with a regular OLED panel rather than QD-OLED has been announced for the US priced at $4,999.
The 55, 65 and 77-inch S90Cs have been available pretty much everywhere in the world since May 2023, with the new 83-inch launching in July 2023 in the US, but no word on a launch elsewhere just yet.
Samsung S90C review: Specs
Samsung S90C review: Features
4K quantum dot OLED panel
Object Tracking Sound audio system
HDMI 2.1 with 4K 120Hz and VRR on all HDMI ports
The crucial thing about the Samsung S90C is that it is a quantum dot OLED TV. This new take on OLED technology, designed by Samsung, sees blue light pushed through layers of quantum dots to create other colors. This approach removes the pure white component that appears in traditional OLED construction, potentially resulting in richer, more accurate colors, especially in the brightest parts of the picture – and potentially brighter images.
For this second generation of QD-OLED, Samsung has improved the filtering in the screen to reduce the potential for ambient light to affect black levels; tweaked the organic materials it uses and improved the panel’s efficiency to boost brightness without increasing energy use; and improved the way the software monitors the activity of all the screen’s pixels to further boost contrast and extend the panel’s effective life span.
The S90C gets the same, upgraded version of Samsung’s Neural Quantum 4K processor that the flagship S95C QD-OLED TVs get in 2023, which uses the combined learning of 20 neural networks to introduce multiple 'AI'-based refinements to the way the TV treats incoming sources – including, in particular, supposedly better upscaling of HD and SD content to the screen’s native 4K resolution.
There is one significant way in which the S90C differs from the S95C, though: brightness. We’ve long known that this would be the case without it being clear just how substantial the difference would be, but now that we can measure it, it's significant – but the S90C is still brighter than most of the competition, as we'll explain in the next section.
This is probably a good point to say once more that while the 55, 65 and 77-inch S90C TVs are QD-OLED models, the 83-inch model uses more ‘traditional’ WOLED technology. Based on our previous experience with the panel Samsung must be using for the 83-inch version, you should expect that model to be significantly less bright.
The S90C’s connectivity is excellent, with all four of its HDMIs proving capable of handling almost everything today’s cutting-edge gamers could want, including 4K 120Hz or 144Hz, and VRR. We’ll come back to this in more detail in the dedicated Gaming section later.
The HDMIs also support the HDR10, HLG and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats - but not the popular Dolby Vision system. Dolby Vision content will therefore play as HDR10, without the extra scene by scene picture information that’s the format’s big selling point. HDR10+ also provides extra scene by scene picture data, but sources that support this format are less numerous than Dolby Vision ones, so it's a real shame that Samsung doesn't include it.
The S90C’s audio system isn’t as cutting edge as its pictures, but its 40W, 2.1-channel configuration is supported by Samsung’s innovative object tracking sound (OTS) system, which uses clever processing and speaker placement to help sound effects and dialogue appear to be coming from the correct onscreen area.
Features score: 4.5/5
Samsung S90C review: Picture quality
Stunning brightness and contrast
Gorgeously rich, pure colors
Impressive sharpness and detailing
Now that we’ve been able to actually measure the brightness of both the S90C, it turns out to hit just under 1,100 nits of light on a white HDR window filling 10% of an otherwise black screen. In comparison, the S95C get up to around 1,400 nits.
That means the S90C is around 20% less bright – a significant difference for sure, though given the price difference it’s worth saying that the S90C is also around 20% brighter on the 10% HDR window than the best ‘regular’ OLED TVs such as the LG C3, which it's very close to in price.
Dedicated followers of TV fashion will likely know that LG has introduced another new type of OLED technology in its latest LG G3 series that uses a Micro Lens Array to achieve a brightness level up there with the S95C. So the S90C is around 20% less bright than the LG G3, too. But again, it’s also significantly cheaper.
So yes, the bad news is that the 300 nits or so of brightness the S90C misses out on versus the S95C is definitely noticeable. Especially when viewing bright images that fill pretty much the entire screen rather than images that contain a mixture of light and dark. This is no more than we’d expect given that we’ve seen much smaller differences than 300 nits deliver visually obvious disparities in brightness you can clearly see with the naked eye.
However, I can actually see some home theater fans, especially those fond of watching films in darkened room settings, potentially preferring the slightly gentler, less explosively dynamic look of the S90C’s pictures to those of the blazingly intense S95C.
And as I said, it's noticeably brighter than the ‘regular’ OLED TVs that its price puts it in more direct competition with. It's up to 300 nits brighter on the 10% white HDR window test (depending on which regular OLED rival you’re talking about). And as I’ve already said, that’s more than enough of a difference to deliver a benefit that’s clear to the naked eye. The S90C’s brightness advantage with an HDR window covering the entire screen, meanwhile, versus a model such as LG’s C3, is also not far off 30%.
All of which means that whatever you’re watching, be it a dark scene with bright highlights or something that’s consistently bright right across the screen, the S90C looks brighter than any of its closest (by price) OLED rivals… and, frustratingly, than the 83-inch model of the S90C too, most likely.
Along with giving its pictures a more HDR ‘feel’, this brightness advantage feeds into the S90C’s colors, giving them a purity in the lightest parts of the picture that’s a joy to behold. Especially as the brightness of their tones doesn’t come at the expense of subtle tonal blends and shifts, helping images generally, as well as specific objects within the image, enjoy a sense of depth, three-dimensionality and density that goes beyond mere sharpness.
That’s not to say core sharpness isn’t still impressive in its own right, though. This has long been a strength of Samsung TVs, and if anything it’s actually improved over previous generations by the latest Neural Quantum 4K processor – especially as this processor seems to have become much smarter about discerning between ‘real’ picture information and noise when dealing with incoming sources. That's true particularly for sub-4K sources that have to be run through the S90C’s excellent upscaling engine.
In fact, the longer I watched the S90C, the more I became aware of just how much cleaner, more natural and generally more refined its pictures were compared with last year’s S95B QD-OLED debutante.
The only exception to this is motion. As we’ve seen for a few years now, the S90C’s default motion options (adjusted in its ‘picture clarity’ menus) are really quite a mess, smoothing 24p movie images too much, and throwing up distracting amounts of flickering and haloing noise around moving objects.
Fortunately, you can fix this up pretty tidily by simply turning motion processing off or, if that results in 24p pictures that look a little too juddery for your tastes, choosing a Custom setting for the Picture Clarity feature and adjusting the de-judder and de-blur elements to level three or four.
With so much great ‘new stuff’ to talk about, I haven’t yet mentioned that the S90C also delivers the traditional OLED goods where black levels are concerned. Dark scenes benefit from black tones that look rich, consistent and pretty much completely free of any low-contrast grayness. This outstanding black level performance is far, far less likely to be impacted by high levels of ambient light than it would have been on last year’s S95B, too.
The S90C’s improved general level of control and refinement compared with its QD-OLED predecessor can be seen, too, in its excellent handling of shadow detail during dark scenes. There’s precious little sign of the black crush that could occasionally impact the S95B in some of its presets.
One last strength of the S90C is that it joins other OLED technologies in being watchable from almost any viewing position – handy if some members of your household routinely have to watch TV from a steep angle.
My only real complaint about the S90C aside from the (fixable) motion issues I mentioned earlier is that while its Dynamic picture preset is too full-on out of the box, looking a little gaudy and over-sharpened, the other presets, even Samsung’s usually reliable Standard one, can leave colors looking a little faded – exactly the opposite of what we might expect from a QD-OLED screen.
You can up the color intensity using the provided color adjustments, but it seems odd that you should have to on a TV that’s so clever and refined without assistance in so many other ways.
Picture quality score: 5/5
Samsung S90C review: Sound quality
2.1-channel OTS system
40W of total power
Sounds better than the S95B, worse than the S95C
While last year’s S95B debut for QD-OLED made a strong picture case, its flimsy audio felt like an afterthought. Happily, despite sharing a nearly identical design, the S90C sounds much better.
Samsung’s Object Tracking System plays a definite part in this, despite it not having as much hardware support (in terms of power and speaker numbers) as the OTS systems on more high-end Samsung TVs. While dialogue and object placement isn’t quite as crisp and precise as it is with the S95C, it’s still good enough to create a busy and involving soundstage that’s capable of getting decent value out of Dolby Atmos soundtracks.
The S90C handles trebles well too, enjoying a nicely rounded tone that doesn’t become harsh or dominant even with the most shrill effects. Best of all, the S90C handles power and dynamic range much better than the S95B, enabling it to shift up far more gears with big, escalating action and horror movie moments than its predecessor, which tended to collapse in on itself under duress.
The S90C’s bass depths are limited and low frequency sounds don’t seem to project as well from the TV’s bodywork as its mid-range and treble sounds, leaving them occasionally sounding a bit ‘chuffy’ under sustained pressure. That said, bass is actually handled much more effectively than it was on the S95B, with both more clarity and much less propensity for the bass driver to descend into distracting buzzing and crackling distortions.
It’s worth adding, too, that the S90C sounds better than LG’s C3 and G3 OLED TVs.
Sound quality score: 4.5/5
Samsung S90C review: Design
Ultra-thin profile at the edges
Built-in connections and processing
No visible speakers
The S90C looks very different to its step-up S95C sibling, but extremely similar to last year’s S95B – and personally I actually think some might prefer the S90C's design, thanks to the incredible slimness of the screen at its outer edges. This is so thin, in fact, that it feels like it’s escaped from an episode of The Jetsons.
The S90C’s build quality isn’t as substantial as that of the S95C, though, and while the S95C models are quite a bit deeper at their edges than the S90C, they’re actually thinner overall once you’ve taken into account that a central section of the S90C’s rear is substantially deeper than its edges.
The reason for the S90C’s chunky bit is that the cheaper model doesn’t carry an external connections/processing box. Its four HDMIs, two USBs, Ethernet port, RF input and optical digital audio output are all located on the back of the TV. While cable haters might see this as another reason to step up to the S95C range, experience shows that dropping the external connections box is likely responsible for a decent chunk of the price gap between Samsung’s two 2023 QD-OLED series.
The only bum note in the S90C’s design is its feet. These look and feel cheap and plasticky for a TV that is still, after all, quite a premium product. They do at least attach fairly close together rather than under the TV’s corners, though, meaning the TV can sit comfortably on a piece of furniture that narrower than its frame.
Note that the 83-inch S90C features a completely different design to the other sizes of S90C, thanks to both the demands of its large screen and its use of WOLED rather than QD-OLED technology.
Design score: 4/5
Samsung S90C review: Smart TV & menus
Samsung’s own Tizen-based Eden smart interface
All the main streaming services are covered
Extensive voice control support
Samsung introduced a major revamp to its Tizen-based ‘Eden’ smart TV interface last year, in particular switching from a compact home menu overlaid over just a small section of the screen to a fullscreen home page.
Issues with unhelpful choices of what content was presented on this new home page and some unintuitive menu navigation choices made this new system feel like a step back from its more streamlined predecessor, alas – and some of those unhelpful changes continue through to the S90C’s smart interface too.
Samsung has, though, made better choices over what appears where on the home screen, and there are one or two helpful navigation refinements. Plus the S90C’s built-in voice recognition and control options are so comprehensive that with a bit of practice you can actually use voice commands to sidestep the menus for much of what you need.
Smart TV & menus score 3.5/5
Samsung S90C review: Gaming
4K 120Hz support on all HDMIs
Variable refresh rate support
Dedicated Gaming Bar and Hub interfaces
The S90C is a fantastic gaming TV. For starters, it carries (almost) all the features most gamers with the latest consoles or premium gaming PCs could want. Namely support for 4K 120Hz or 144Hz pictures, variable refresh rates, and automatic low latency mode switching whenever a game source is detected. The VRR support includes AMD FreeSync, too, and you can monitor and adjust your gaming signals via a dedicated Game Bar onscreen menu system.
The options here include adjustments for raising the brightness of just the dark areas of the picture to make it easier to see lurking enemies; a superimposed target reticle in the middle of the screen; multiple options for trading input lag (the time the screen takes to render image data) against motion smoothness; the ability to magnify games’ mini-maps, regardless of where they appear on the screen; and even support for the ultra-wide 21:9 and 32:9 aspect ratios now available as options with some PC titles.
Input lag is outstanding too, measuring just 9.2ms with a 1080p 60Hz feed in its fastest input lag setting, in our testing.
The one thing missing from the S90C’s gaming features is Dolby Vision support. So if you own an Xbox Series X, you’ll have to accept that games will only appear in standard HDR10. The screen is, though, compatible with the HGiG system, where your console can be set to ‘match’ the abilities of your TV, delivering the optimal HDR output accordingly without the TV’s own dynamic tone mapping features having to get involved.
The S90C’s wide-ranging gaming features are backed up by a truly spectacular graphics performance. The screen’s extra brightness over similarly priced rivals really counts with gaming graphics, while motion is fantastically handled with both 60Hz, 120Hz and variable refresh rate titles. Sharpness and detailing does consistently superb justice to today’s ultra high resolution graphics too, and the TV feels fantastically responsive for a screen that’s giving you such a big and beautiful gaming experience.
While the S90C’s gaming images aren’t as outright spectacular as those of Samsung’s much brighter S95C, I would argue that they’re actually more consistent and therefore immersive than those of its flagship siblings – though if you're gaming during the day, much like with sports viewing, absolutely brightness is an advantage for beating reflections.
One last useful gaming feature of the S90C is its Gaming Hub, a dedicated menu in its smart interface that pulls together all the available gaming inputs and online gaming services.
Gaming score: 4.5/5
Samsung S90C review: Value
Excellent value for what’s on offer
Makes QD-OLED a true mid-range OLED option
Much cheaper than S95C and LG G3
At the time of writing, the 55-inch Samsung S90C costs only $100 more than LG’s equivalent 55-inch C3 model, and the boost you get in both brightness and sound quality compared to that TV feel more than worth the extra outlay.
Looking upwards to Samsung’s S95C and LG’s MLA-sporting G3, and you can save enough by buying this TV instead of those to add one of the best soundbars or best 4K Blu-ray players to your setup.
The 83-inch S90C costs more or less the same as the 83-inch LG C3 series, which seems appropriate given that this particular screen size uses WOLED technology like the C3, rather than QD-OLED technology.
The second-generation of QD-OLED TVs has proved emphatically that the technology is here to stay, with even this year’s cheapest S90C QD-OLED models managing to deliver substantial improvements over the technology’s already impressive 2022 debut.
The S90C is around a fifth less bright than its dazzling S95C flagship QD-OLED siblings, but it retains a distinct brightness advantage against ‘regular’ mid-range OLED rivals that feeds into ultra-vibrant colors, especially in very bright areas.
There are times, in fact, where the S90C arguably retains a touch more consistency and balance than its more expensive, much more explosively punchy S95C siblings.
The S90C’s sound is better than that of its LG OLED rivals too, if that matters to you - though it falls some way short sonically of the S95C in this department.
Put simply, it probably offers the most complete overall image of anything in the same bracket as it.
With the Sierra Plus, affordable audio brand Majority has (mostly) decided to go big. Big on specification, big on sound, big on the size of the soundbar that’s accompanied by a wireless subwoofer. In fact, one of the few ways the MAjority Sierra Plus isn’t big is in regards to the asking price. Here’s a 2.1.2-channel Dolby Atmos soundbar and subwoofer system for comfortably under £250 / $280, challenging the best cheap soundbars around for specs.
Setup is straightforward. The Majority Sierra Plus' control options are few but well-implemented. Wireless connectivity between soundbar and subwoofer is solid and stable. Once you’ve established where the two elements of the system are going to be positioned (and, in the case of the soundbar, made sure it doesn’t block a portion of your TV screen), it’s simple in the extreme to get up and running.
And where outright scale of sound is concerned, the Majority is a high achiever. There’s width and a suggestion of height to its sound, robust and well-controlled contributions from the soundbar, and a level of midrange communication and fidelity that’s almost as unexpected as it is welcome.
Treble reproduction is a concern, though - it sounds as if it belongs to another system entirely. And while the subwoofer doesn’t drone, it doesn’t add a whole lot of detail to your listening experience. And these negative traits are given greater emphasis if you decide to switch from listening to movies to listening to music.
If you want a hint of Dolby Atmos at this sort of money, it’s difficult to suggest too many viable alternatives among the best soundbars. But we'd encourage people to look to the Sony HT-G700 and Samsung HW-Q700B (when they're on deals) for better overall Dolby Atmos sound without spending tons more.
Majority Sierra Plus review: Price & release date
$269 / £229 (around AU$410)
Released in the middle of 2022
The Majority Sierra Plus Dolby Atmos soundbar/wireless subwoofer system is on sale now, and will cost your around $269 / £229, depending on current offers. That makes it about AU$410 in Australia, though its availability there seems limited at best.
This, it hardly needs stating, is a very aggressive price for a Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar that’s accompanied by a wireless subwoofer. Certainly it’s possible to spend more than this without even getting a sniff of spatial audio. So is the Majority Sierra Plus that most unusual of things: an authentic bargain?
Majority Sierra Plus review: Specs
Majority Sierra Plus review: Features
2x HDMI passthrough ports are great for the price
HDMI ARC doesn't support lossless Dolby Atmos
No center channel, no DTS support
It’s important to keep your expectations realistic when considering the features and specification of the Sierra Plus. Don’t forget how much (or, more accurately, how little) Majority is asking for this system and you shouldn’t go far wrong.
The soundbar is where all the physical inputs and wireless connectivity live – the subwoofer just has a power lead (and not a long one, it’s worth noting) and a button to initiate pairing with the soundbar in the unlikely event that the process doesn’t happen automatically.
There’s an HDMI ARC socket, a pair of HDMI 2.0 4K HDR pass-throughs, a digital optical input, USB slot and a 3.5mm analogue input, all in a little recess at the rear of the soundbar’s cabinet. Wireless stuff, meanwhile, is restricted to Bluetooth 4.2 with SBC and AAC codec compatibility.
At this sort of money, the HDMI pass-throughs are a fairly unusual and very welcome provision – certainly they’ll keep the number of connections to your TV down to a minimum. HDMI ARC, meanwhile, is good for dealing with the lossy form of Dolby Atmos that’s used by the likes of Disney Plus and Netflix – but owners of the best 4K Blu-ray players won’t be able to access the lossless version their machines deal in. That requires an HDMI eARC input. There's also no DTS support.
No matter how you get your audio on board, though, it’s delivered to you by a complement of six drivers in the soundbar plus another in the subwoofer. Facing out from the front of the soundbar in a ‘left/right’ arrangement there are four 57mm (fairly) full-range drivers, two at either end – each pair is reinforced by what Majority calls an ‘airport’ but what looks to me very much like a bass reflex port.
On the top of the soundbar are a couple more of these drivers, angled up and out in an effort to create some of that sonic height that’s the reason we all got excited by Dolby Atmos in the first place. The subwoofer’s side-firing driver is bolstered by a forward-facing reflex port.
Majority suggests there’s a total of 400 watts of Class D power doing the amplification business – there’s no indication of how that total is divided, though.
Features score: 4/5
Majority Sierra Plus review: Sound quality
Impressively wide sound, with some height
Big, with well-integrated bass
Weak treble, and not very dynamic
There’s two ways of looking (or, more correctly, listening) to the Majority Sierra Plus. The first is to admire the scale and forceful nature of its sound, look again at the amount you spent on it, and think ‘job done’. The second, naturally, is to go beyond the simple shock and awe of the system’s presentation and consider every element of its performance.
In addition to the horizontal projection of its sound, the Majority also manages to extract a mild, but definite, sensation of height from an appropriate soundtrack too (and given that this is a 2.1.2 -channel system with ‘only’ an HDMI ARC input, a stream of Black Widow via Disney+ will do just fine). The vertical effect is curtailed, sure, and nothing like as pronounced as the width that’s on offer here – but it’s there, for sure. Which already puts the Sierra Plus ahead of any number of price-comparable alternatives.
There’s reasonable consistency to the tonal balance of the system from the midrange on down – quite often in products of this type, at this sort of money, the subwoofer can be heard doing its own thing, but the subwoofer here has a decent relationship with the soundbar.
The handover between the two is achieved without alarms, and while the sub doesn’t have the variation or detail levels of the soundbar, it’s not quite as blunt an instrument as some alternatives. The bass stuff may not be the most varied, but it hits with determination and it’s controlled pretty well. Certainly the Majority doesn’t default to the droning some rival designs indulge in.
The midrange projects well, and carries enough detail to make dialogue sound characterful – there’s enough space around a speaker’s voice to allow them to communicate fully, even if they’re whispering. There’s good balance and poise to midrange information, a very pleasant kind of naturalness that makes voices both convincing and easy to follow.
It’s a different story at the top of the frequency range. The soundbar has no dedicated tweeters, remember, and treble contrives to sound edgy and insubstantial. This is a trait that is only compounded by increases in volume – so not only do top-end sounds seem unnatural, they don’t relate to what’s going on beneath them in the slightest.
Despite its ability to sound big and bold, though, there’s not a huge amount of dynamic subtlety to the Sierra Plus. Rather than go from ‘quiet’ to ‘loud’ it tends to prefer going from ‘loud’ to ‘louder still’ – and the result is a distinct lack of light and shade. Everything occurs at a very similar level of intensity, and consequently the overall presentation lacks drama.
As far as music is concerned, the Majority is somewhat out of its (already quite constricted) comfort zone. The subwoofer’s lack of insight is thrown into sharp relief by a listen to Chic’s Le Freak, and it relates to the soundbar with a fair bit less positivity than before. Rhythmic expression is no better than average, and the strange remoteness of the treble seems more pronounced too.
Sound quality score: 3/5
Majority Sierra Plus review: Design
Suitable for TVs of 48 inches and up
Quite tall – be careful with low-slung TVs
Well-made and finished
If the quantity of raw materials your money buys you is important, you’ll be delighted by the Majority Sierra Plus – because your money buys you plenty. Be warned that the soundbar is tall enough to get in the way of the bottom of your TV screen if it has a low stand, and its width means it's suitable for TVs of 48 inches and up. Majority provides some basic wall-mounting equipment in the packaging.
The subwoofer is a little more manageable, but bear in mind its power cable is hard-wired, so even though it connects wirelessly to the soundbar, its 1m-long power cable will dictate where in your room it ends up.
Despite the ‘quantity-of-stuff-to-price’ ratio, though, there are no obvious compromises to the way the Sierra Plus is built or finished. The plastics and metal grilles of the soundbar look and feel fine, and are fitted together perfectly well. The subwoofer is the usual ‘vinyl wrap over MDF’, naturally – but, again, it’s constructed with obvious care and seems ready to last for ages.
Design score: 4/5
Majority Sierra Plus review: Usability and setup
Remote to change modes
Wireless subwoofer connected was seamless
There’s a quite assertive display behind the front grille of the soundbar letting you know what’s going on in terms of volume – and it’s on whether you like it or not. It will also give you some indication of input selection and the type of audio information it’s dealing with, but only swiftly, before it’s back to volume-level information.
As far as affecting volume level, selecting input and all the rest of it, there are some rubbery buttons on the top of the soundbar that deal with the basics, and a remote control handset that covers everything.
Unlike a lot of products of this type and at this sort of money, the Majority’s remote control is quite robust and tactile, and it’s of a decent size, too. It lets you examine the four EQ presets, finesse bass and treble response, mute the system and so on.
We found that the soundbar and sub connected immediately, without any hassle.
Usability and setup score: 4/5
Majority Sierra Plus review: Value
Upfiring speakers and HDMI passthrough for a low price
Sound fidelity can be beaten at this kind of price
As we’ve said all along, it depends how you look at it. There’s plenty of stuff here for your money, and in some ways there’s plenty of performance here too – certainly you’re unlikely to confuse the sound of the Sierra Plus to that of your unassisted television.
There are shortcomings where the sound quality is concerned, though – and while Majority’s determination to offer a taste of Dolby Atmos at this price is to be commended, it’s safe to say you can get a more convincing (although admittedly smaller) sound for the same money elsewhere.
So if you want Atmos for a low price and some HDMI passthrough ports as a great bonus, it's incredible value. If you want a focus on sound quality, you can do better. On balance, we'll call it good value.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre: One-minute review
Bang & Olufsen clearly set out to make a statement with the Beosound Theatre Dolby Atmos soundbar. It’s gloriously over-engineered, with a level of design finesse the category hasn’t seen before. It’s also a formidable performer. The driver array includes a sublime coaxial center, two oversized woofers, and side and height drivers that build an immense wall of sound.
We think the Beosound Theatre sets a new audio benchmark for the soundbar category, pushing past what any of the best soundbars we've heard so far can do from a single unit. It’s related to B&O's Beosound Stage soundbar, but when it comes to power and profundity, this is a much bigger brother.
However, it’s quite the commitment. Both in terms of price – it'll set you back an eye-watering $6,890 / £5,590 / AU$11,860 – and weight, at a huge 18kg. The design is unmistakably B&O. The iconic Scandinavian design, which on our review sample includes a dramatic slatted wooden grille (there’s also a less expensive fabric grille option available), and slick glass touch panel, which illuminates when you approach.
With 12 power amplifiers onboard, it has quite the sonic arsenal at its disposal. As a standalone music speaker, it’s surprisingly effective, and when it comes to movie blockbusters it delivers action hard and fast. But it can't deliver rear sound without adding extra separate speakers (and extra expense).
If you want the biggest, clearest sound from a single-unit soundbar, nothing else does it quite this well, as you'd hope for the price. But if you need a one-box soundbar with Dolby Atmos for a more affordable price, consider the Sonos Arc, Sony HT-A7000 or Devialet Dione (in ascending price order), all of which still deliver big sound. Just not quite as big.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Price and release date
Costs from $6,890 / £5,590 / AU$11,860
Released October 2022
The price you’ll pay for the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre varies according to the finish you opt for. In its most inexpensive guise, with a fabric grille, you can expect to pay $6,890 / £5,590 / AU$11,860. However, upgrade the finish to Silver Oak or Gold Tone, and the price escalates to $7,990 / £6,390 / AU$13,650.
We don't need to tell you that's incredibly expensive, even by the standards of other premium soundbars. For example, the Samsung HW-Q990B, one of our top, high-end soundbar picks cost $1,899 / £1,599 / AU$2,199 at launch. Sure the Beosound Theatre may outperform it in some ways, but it's still an incredible ask for boosting the sound on your TV.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Features
Dolby Atmos sand HDMI 2.1 support
There’s no dedicated remote control supplied in the box with the Beosound Theatre. Instead, you’re directed to the accompanying app. Some people are bound to love the fact you don't need to mess about with a remote, others might feel shortchanged for the price – this is the same deal as you get with Sonos soundbars, and we have no issue with it.
The app has a variety of sound presets to choose from, including TV, Music, Movie, Game and (dynamically compressed) Night. It also facilitates Spotify Connect, Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2 support.
One key feature of the Beosound Theatre is its modular design. Longevity was a key requirement in its design, and virtually any part of the soundbar can be swapped out for a replacement or upgrade. This includes the processor and the HDMI interface board, so any changes to broadcast specs or standards can theoretically be accommodated.
It’s compatible with Dolby Atmos, TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, and 7.1 PCM sources, but not DTS:X. It seems a little ridiculous to miss the latter off at this price, but here we are.
Connectivity on the rear comprises four HDMI ports – one of which is the eARC port that connects to the TV. Frustratingly, this is also the only one that supports 4K 120Hz, meaning that you can't actually pass-through 4K 120Hz from the other three HDMI ports. But you do get regular 4K HDR passthrough, at least.
There’s also the provision to connect the Theatre to other Beosound speakers. Indeed, as many as 16 can be connected: eight using Wireless Powerlink, and eight Powerlink.
There are four Ethernet sockets towards this purpose, although one is specifically for connecting to LG TVs and controlling the whole setup using the B&O app.
The soundbar comes with a calibration microphone to help tune the sound for your room – and it's not limited to just one 'sweet spot', usefully. You can tune for a whole seating area, which is not something you tend to get from soundbars.
Features score: 4/5
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Sound quality
Wide spatial soundstage
A high performer with both movies and music
The Beosound Theatre provides a hugely entertaining listen. High frequencies are detail rich, there’s a smooth, fulsome mid-range and underpinning both is a bass attack capable of flattening your recliner. The speaker array is classified as 7.1.4, but take that with a pinch of salt.
Despite the price tag, this is not a replacement for a high-end AV receiver system. It’s something altogether different. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Theatre is its bass handling. This all-in-one slams like a battalion of subwoofers. It can drop seriously deep, and is capable of quite startling dynamics. Those two forward facing 6.5-inch woofers know how to pressure load a room.
But the bar is also capable of remarkable mid-range clarity. That center-mounted coaxial driver is beautifully articulate, not just with movie dialogue, which is always easy to follow no matter how busy the soundstage, but also music.
Stereo music sources can be upmixed to make full use of the expansive driver array, which is worth doing. With all cones at play, the soundstage is preternaturally wide and spacious. Significantly there’s no overt sweet spot – you won’t have to commandeer the prime spot on the sofa every time you want to listen to Tidal streams. Volume is prodigious too. There’s more than enough power on tap to pump the volume in a large listening space.
Of course, movies are the Beosound Theatre’s raison d'etre, and it doesn’t disappoint when the lights dim. The bar has a ball with Bond’s pirouetting Aston Martin from No Time to Die. The machine-gun headlights sound fast and fierce.
But blockbusters in particular reveal an Achilles' heel. The Beosound Theatre doesn’t offer a full 360 degree soundstage from Dolby Atmos sources. Even with those angled side speakers, there’s no sense of Dolby Atmos in the round. For that, you’ll really need to add additional rear speakers.
This isn’t a criticism particular to this B&O as all soundbars need to use additional speakers to convincingly deliver a full surround experience, and we're not knocking the B&O for not being able to break the laws of physics. We're judging it here as a one-box soundbar, not a surround system. But it still means that if you want this, you'd need to add more B&O speakers to your package.
What you're presented with from the bar alone, though, is a masterful sonic canvas that looms before you for games and music.
However, we found a curious issue with the accuracy of sound placement in games – they don't match what's on-screen as well as in movies. This will only really be an issue for serious shooter fans, and odds are those people will use a headset (or different screen) anyway, so we don't think it holds the Theatre back for 99% of its buyers.
Sound Quality score: 5/5
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Design
Iconic Scandi-style design
Multiple stand options
It seems entirely appropriate that a flagship soundbar should take its design cues from a ship. B&O describes the soundbar’s shiny exterior as a hull, which rather cleverly disguises some of the bulk. Another cute design trick is the central TV mounting plate. This allows virtually any TV to be secured to the bar, effectively obscuring the rear 50 per cent of the build.
The Theatre can be partnered with any screen brand or size, most typically 55, 65 or 77 inches. Bang & Olufsen works closely with LG, and stylistically, that would be the TV of choice – perhaps the new lighterweight LG C3. The aluminium wings – which fix left and right, and can be changed to accommodate different screen sizes – are an inspired element.
The top of the bar is wrapped in acoustic fabric. The cheapest (!) finish extends this to the front grille. The Beosound Theatre soundbar I tested features a slatted oak wood grille.
Behind the grille are 12 speaker drivers: two 6.5-inch woofers and that coaxial centre, which comprises a 1-inch tweeter mounted in front of a 5.25-inch midranger. There’s also two 3-inch mid-range drivers, four 2.5-inch drivers and two 1-inch tweeters. The total power output for this array is 800W; 100 watts power the two bass drivers, with 60W going to each of the remaining 10 drivers.
One unintended consequence of the touch glass control up top is that it’s highly reflective, and always reflects what’s on the screen above. Depending on your angle, this could be a small frustration.
Design score: 4.5/5
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Value
Impeccable build quality
Lacking some (niche) features
There’s no dodging that huge price tag, particularly if you go for the full Scandi finish. That said, the Beosound Theatre is a remarkable piece of kit that sounds fantastic.
Does it deliver a performance commensurate with its price? That’s more difficult to say. What you’re buying here is so much more than the noise it makes.
Industrial design is outstanding. There’s not a millimeter of spare space beneath the hood (which goes some way to explaining its weight), yet an insistence on modular construction means it can always be repaired or upgraded. This isn’t so much a soundbar as an heirloom, if B&O lives up to the promise there.
It also uniquely dovetails with the larger B&O ecosystem. Which means if you’ve already bought into the brand, there’s more aspects of control and integration that can be unlocked.
But it's disappointing that it lacks DTS:X, and that none of the three input ports for passthrough to the TV are HDMI 2.1 compliant – for this price, we don't expect to want for any established soundbar features.
Value score: 3.5/5
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Should I buy it?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if...
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theatre review: Also consider
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 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 TV review: picture quality
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 TV review: sound quality
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 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 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 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 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
Should I buy the LG C3 OLED TV?
Buy it if...
Don't buy it if…
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
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.
OLED PC gaming panels are now arriving thick and fast, the latest example of which is the new BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ, a 48-inch monster of a monitor. It's also fully 4K and good for 120Hz refresh. In a word, wow.
In fact, this thing is so big it pushes the very notion of what a PC monitor can be right to the limit. In a conventional desktop setting and at a viewing distance of a couple feet, it's surely too big at 48 inches, even if it does have a monitor-style stand with a degree of tilt adjustment. That said, there's no height adjustment, which limits your options in terms of placement and ergonomics.
Ultimately, it's unclear what the optimal usage model is for this class of monitor. It's hard to see someone sitting right in front of it like a conventional PC monitor - so it's hard to recommend it as one of the best gaming monitors. The question is why you'd go for it over one of the best OLED TVs with similar specs. Hold that thought.
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The BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ also looks just like the rest of the Mobiuz gaming monitor range with its geometric design, plus silver and orange accents. The slim bezels on three sides of the panel, meanwhile, plus a relatively large chin are likewise standard BenQ Mobiuz design language. The overall vibe is game-y without being over the top or adolescent.
As for the broader technical details, the 48-inch OLED panel is sourced from LG and sports a full 4K pixel grid and thus a native resolution of 3,840 by 2,160. It's huge. BenQ claims a pretty modest peak brightness of 450 nits, though it doesn't specify the maximum window size at which that figure is attained. Full screen brightness is 135 nits, which is modest even by OLED standards.
That said, it's very speedy thanks to 0.1ms response, which is way faster than any LCD-based gaming monitor, plus 120Hz refresh. Yes, there are monitors with much higher maximum refresh rates. But 120Hz is arguably plenty for a 4K monitor. Even the latest and greatest graphics cards will struggle to hit 200 fps or more in modern games, after all.
Add in support for both AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, and you have a recipe for very smooth gameplay. On paper, the BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ looks good in terms of color fidelity and accuracy, too, thanks to 98% coverage of the DCI-P3 digital cinema gamut. Oh, and you also get BenQ's Trevolo audio solution including a 2.1 speaker system with a 10W subwoofer.
As for connectivity, that's where the BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ really separates itself from an otherwise similar OLED TV. First, you get the obligatory pair of HDMI ports. Importantly, they're HDMI 2.1 spec and so support 120Hz refresh. That makes this a good candidate for sharing between a gaming PC and one of the latest 120Hz-capable consoles from Sony or Microsoft.
To that you can add the much more PC-centric DisplayPort 1.4 interface, which again supports the full 120Hz. What you absolutely won't see on an OLED TV, however, is the EX480UZ's USB-C connection complete with 90W of power delivery. So, you can drive this huge monitor with a laptop while keeping the laptop itself charged. Nice. Oh, and you also get an IR remote for accessing the OSD menu, which is handy on this large a monitor.
Anyway, if that's all the critical speeds and feeds covered off, how well does this monster monitor actually perform? The short answer is that it depends. At its best, it's pretty impressive. At its worst? You'll wonder where all the money went.
The key issue is brightness. OLED panels generally don't do full-screen brightness terribly well. For a TV, that's usually not a major issue as it's relatively rare for a TV to display something uniformly bright across the whole screen or at least a large majority of the screen.
But on the PC, that's quite normal. You might have a light-colored wallpaper or a couple of browser windows open showing mostly white webpages. In those scenarios, the brightness of the BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ drops right back. What's most distracting is how much the brightness varies. Let's say you have Windows running in dark mode with a browser open showing a mostly dark interface, like Netflix for instance.
In that scenario, the BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ looks great. But switch to a browser tab with a mostly white background and the brightness drops dramatically and the screen looks very dull overall.
That's the screen's ABL or automatic brightness limiter doing its thing. In mitigation, that's all much less of an issue playing games or watching movies. But even then it can catch you out. Some of the brighter outdoor scenes in a game like Cyberpunk running HDR can have the ABL kicking in pretty obviously. At this price point, that's hard to accept.
The upside, of course, involves pretty much perfect black levels and excellent contrast. The pixel response is seriously zippy, too. Add in the 120Hz refresh and the overall responsiveness is truly excellent, provided you have a seriously powerful GPU.
But fundamentally, this OLED panel lacks outright punch, something that's only more obvious in day-to-day PC usage as opposed to playing games and watching movies. Even by OLED standards, the brightness is disappointing. Monitors using Samsung's QD-OLED panel tech, including the Alienware AW3423DW are markedly better when it comes to full screen brightness.
When you factor in this screen's hefty price tag, it's very hard to justify the brightness limitations and clunky feel in day to day use - let alone recommend it as one of the best monitors right now. The excellent connectivity is nice, but if it's OLED tech for a desktop PC you're after, a 34-inch option from the best ultrawide monitors that use Samsung's QD-OLED tech is currently by far the better choice. And if you want a really big 4K screen for gaming, an OLED TV is likewise superior value.
BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ: Price & availability
How much does it cost? $2,049 / £1,599 (about $AU2,950)
When is it available? Available now
Where can you get it? Available in the US and the UK
The new BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ is currently clocking in at $2,049 / £1,599 (about $AU2,950). We suspect the US price in particular will drop a bit fairly quickly. But even with several hundred dollars shaved off, it will still be a very expensive display.
For starters, it looks like poor value next to 48-inch OLED 4K TVs which can be had for less. So, you're paying a very large premium for the added connectivity. It also makes it hard to accept the limitations that come with the LG-sourced OLED panel BenQ is using here. It's likewise worth noting that various 34-inch ultrawide monitors based on Samsung's QD-OLED tech, like the Alienware AW3423DW, make for much better, if admittedly smaller, PC monitors and can be had for a lot less money.
Value 2 / 5
BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ: Specs
Should you buy the BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ?
Buy it if...
You want that OLED experience with PC connectivity The BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ uses LG's familiar OLED tech in a 48-inch 4K and adds full PC features including DisplayPort and USB-C connectivity.
You appreciate really fast response At just 0.1ms response, this huge panel is way faster than evern the very best LCD monitors, including the latest mini-LED monitors.
Don't buy it if...
You want a really punchy panel The full screen brightness is super disappointing, something that's only more obvious when attached to a PC as opposed to being a pure TV
You want value for money At this price point, you can choose from some of the very best PC monitors, including OLED displays based on Samsung's more suitable QD-OLED tech.
BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ: Also consider
How I tested the BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ
I tested the monitor for one week
I tested it for web, gaming, movies, the works
I used it on both PC and Mac, over HDMI and DisplayPort
I put the BenQ Mobiuz EX480UZ through its paces with a proper PC workout. I used it to browse the web, do a little work, stream video and most importantly game.
I ran both regular HDR content and HDR content and played games that both majored in visual thrills and also titles that are all about frame rate and response. I used test videos to assess the panel's brightness over a range of window sizes, compared the response to competing displays and snuffed out its latency levels.
I've been testing PC monitors since the early days of flat panels for many of the leading trch titles. I've seen all the major new OLED monitors, including Alienware and Philips' new 34-inch models, plus Corsair's 45-inch Flex, not to mention countless mini-LED models, so I can directly compare this new BenQ to its most important and relevant competitors.
We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.