Forget the 48-inch OLED TV – the 42-inch LG C2 is the true mid-size winner

LG Magic Remote
(Image credit: LG)

42-inch OLED TVs have arrived. Almost a full year after LG Display first confirmed that 42-inch OLED panels were on the way, we're seeing the first-ever 42-inch OLED TV unveiled for CES 2022.

The LG C2 OLED is, unsurprisingly, the 2022 successor to last year's LG C1 – a hugely popular screen that marries top-notch picture quality with semi-affordable price points.

There are a number of incremental upgrades for LG's 2022 OLEDs, including a new EX panel structure that should boost brightness by 30% compared to traditional OLED (so, likely only a small boost over last year's LG G1 and Sony A90J, which offered 20% above the average).

But the real standout feature is the inclusion of a new 42-inch OLED panel size. We're only getting it for the LG C2 so far, which lines up with release strategies in previous years: LG tends to push a new size through its C Series range, before gradually rolling it out to other models, as with the 48-inch OLED TV size in 2020, and the 83-inch size in 2021.

The democratization of OLED

In May 2021, LG Display said that it's "set to strengthen its lineup by producing 83-inch and 42-inch OLED TV displays starting this year, adding to the existing 88-inch, 77-inch, 65-inch, 55-inch, and 48-inch OLED TV displays." 

While the 83-inch sizes came out in early 2021, though, the smaller 42-inch size has been slower to make it to market.

We fully welcome the addition of a smaller OLED TV size; OLED has long been a pricey technology, and smaller sets will only bring down the cost further while allowing those with limited space a way to get quality images into their home. Those with small TVs are often left with low-spec models, as manufacturers save their best processors and panels for bigger, flashier screens.

The 42-inch LG C2 will pack the same a9 Gen 5 processor, 120Hz refresh rate, 4K HDR panel, and HDMI 2.1 spec as its larger siblings, so cost-conscious shoppers really won't be missing out by opting for this smaller model. We're yet to hear an exact price tag, but the thought of a $999 / £999 launch price for an LG C Series OLED has us tingling – and it offers a smart alternative to the lower-spec A Series and B Series ranges, which take a hit to specification rather than size to keep costs down.

Paul Lee, Head of Global Research at Deloitte, predicts that OLED TVs won't get a lot smaller than they are now, telling TechRadar that “Having lots of data on a small screen is hard. Watching a really good movie on a small screen is hard. I would expect television, increasingly, in terms of drama and sports and the like, to be formatted for large screens. So I really can't see OLED TVs becoming a lot smaller.”

Don't expect 32-inch OLED TVs anytime soon, then – especially as LG has shown no sign of moving into HD OLED panels alongside their 4K and 8K ranges.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.