Even though our first look was brief, it's clear that the LG C4 is a serious upgrade over the LG C3 in terms of brightness and punch. Combined with the other updates it has, this OLED TV could be back on top in 2024.
Significantly brighter images
Wireless lossless sound
Probably still less bright than Samsung S90D
Not expecting a big sound upgrade
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LG revealed all of its new 2024 OLED TVs at CES 2024 – including the first transparent OLED TV that you’ll be able to buy, which we got to see in action – and the one I was most curious to see in action (apart from the see-through one, obviously) was the LG C4.
In its initial unveiling of the C4, LG revealed that the new model would be brighter than last year’s LG C3, despite using the same core OLED panel. This is an important upgrade, because its key competitor last year was the Samsung S90C, which offered much better brightness at the same price, and this year’s Samsung S90D will be even brighter. But the question was: how much brighter would the C4 be?
After seeing the LG C4 in action, I don’t have an exact measurement for how much brighter it is, but I can sum it up: bright enough.
The level of extra vibrance and pop is immediately clear; HDR highlights gleaming off metal are more dazzling, and white areas of the screen have the extra cleanness that brighter OLED whites bring. It feels like a major hardware upgrade, not the same kind of panel.
LG says that the brightness improvement is all down to the new Alpha 9 Gen 7 processor, which is much better at power management, meaning that LG can afford to pump more power into highlight areas making them brighter, because it’s using power much more efficiently in other areas of the picture.
This may mean that the brightness improvements are largely limited to highlights rather than also offering a fullscreen brightness upgrade (so, basically, it may be that the C4 is a big step up for HDR movies, but not so much for watching sports or beating reflections), but we’ll only know that for sure from testing.
I actually saw the LG C4 next to the LG G4 (which is also set to be brighter than last year’s LG G3 model, but there is an actual hardware improvement in play there as well as the better processing, because the lenses in the micro lens array (MLA) OLED screen have been redesigned), and while the G4 is still a clear step up in brightness over the mid-range C4, the two sets looked far closer to each other than I expected.
My estimate is that the C4 is approaching 1,000 nits of peak brightness for the 55-inch and up models, though to be clear, I have no measurements or official line to back this up. LG wouldn’t be drawn on the exact figures it expects the C4 to hit, but suggested that this is the correct ballpark.
The smaller 42-inch and 48-inch C4 models will also be brighter than last year’s models, though as with previous years will still be less bright than the 55-inch and up models.
From the demo I had, it was hard to judge the other improvements to the processing – the C4 uses a new generation of the Alpha 9 processor, rather than the new and extra advanced Alpha 11 that's in the LG G4, but there should be a further polish to the images.
But one of the juiciest upgrades to the processor is the addition of LG's lossless wireless Dolby Atmos sound, which we think is a big deal. This means you can connect one of LG's higher-end 2024 soundbars to it without any cables, but still get full-quality, uncompressed audio to the soundbar.
Speaking of audio, though, one of the weakest areas of the LG C3 compared to competitors was its built-in sound, with the Samsung S90C beating it at the same price, and the Sony A80L offering a big audio upgrade for a little more money.
LG had the C4 paired with the SC9S soundbar during my demo, which it specifically recommends as a pairing with the TV, using a custom bracket for the two to connect neatly. We know that LG's new processor does even more elaborate upscaling of sound for spatial audio, but will the actual speakers be better? I don't have a ton of hope considering how strongly LG thinks you should use this soundbar.
I can't wait to get the LG C4 in our testing room to fully test its performance and see how it ranks among the best OLED TVs, but from the moment you see it, it's clear that it delivers the exciting year-on-year improvement that the LG C3 struggled to offer, excellent though it was. LG has come to play in 2024.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at T3.com, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.