Tech Review: LG 48CX

This story stars back in March of 2020. Back when the by now famous COVID-19 pandemic was getting started my job switched everyone from working in the office to working from home every day. I was never a fan of working from home, mainly due to the fact that all my best and comfortable equipment was at the office but all that was about to change.
By April it became aparent that we would be working from home for the forseable future so I decided to invest a bit into my room (rents in London are insane) to make it more comfortable. I painted the whole room, got a new matress as I wouldn’t be travelling as much and, most importantly, I upgraded my TV.

The TV Review

I have wanted an OLED TV ever since I first saw one back in 2015. I was aware of the technology and it’s main drawback, burn in, but I absolutely loved the great contrast OLED provides. So when the time came I went to Curry’s and got myself the, at the time, brand new LG 48CX 4k OLED TV.

There’s a lot to love about it and very little to dislike. The panel is great, image quality is amazing, the store has a lot of apps and the wireless gyroscopic remote is an interesting gimmick. Let’s take it one by one.

The panel

At 48 inches diagonal size, I think this is the smallest OLED manufactured. Prior to this I had a 55 inches regular LCD from LG and to be honest, I found that to be too big for my room and it now sits in the living room. I have the TV setup so it’s at the feet of my bed, about three meters away from my head and it fills quite a bit of my field of view so I am very happy with the size I picked.

The resolution is a big part of why I got this TV, 4k is great. Given it’s 48″ size and 4k resolution, being about 3 meters away, I can definitely tell the difference between 4k and FullHD content. HDR is great and makes everything pop even more and the colours are amazing.

The Software

The software is a mixed bag. Mostly, it works just fine but it does hang sometimes. The remote is probably the weirdest part of it. It is a wireless remote, not optical, and it has a gyroscopic cursor that you can use like a mouse to click on things. When it works it is great, when it doesn’t it is annoying but you can still use the joystick navigation to move through menus.
Sometimes, when waking from sleep, the last opened application would open up and then freeze on the loading screen. This happens mostly with Netflix but it does come up every now and then in other apps as well.
My biggest gripe with the software is that whilst the remote is wireless, it is not paired with the TV. Therefore, if you have two of them in the same room, or potentially house, both remotes will work with both TVs with mixed and surprising results which is very annoying.

The Sound

LG chose to have the speakers behind the screen as well as using the screen itself as a speaker. I have to say, as far as TV speakers go, they’re very good. Clear highs and decent lows but don’t exepct thumping bass during action scenes. The truth is that it still needs a soundbar for proper full sound. Make sure to get an LG one so that you can make use of their sync functionality, otherwise you’ll be stuck using two remotes.
The modes LG provides in terms of sound options are all pretty crap. I mean, the AI one seems to be choosing the wrong profile most of the times. Music is great for music but not much else. Sports has only highs and is very annoying, so is the Clear Voice one and the Cinema mode is very muffled. Really, Standard mode is still the best one overall.

The Hardware

The TV has four HDMI 2.1 Inputs (4k@120Hz is glorious when gaming, more on that later). Then there’s a headphone jack and an optical out for audio an ethernet port (RJ45) and two USBs.
There’s a VESA mount on the back which I’ve made use of to replace it’s stand which can be a bit wobbly.

TV Rating: 10/10 🙂

The Monitor Review

At the time I got the TV I had 4 monitors on my desk mounted using two different monitor stands. The amount of cables I had to run everywhere was off the charts as I have a PC I use for gaming and personal projects and a Mac I use for work. The math is pretty simple, 4 monitors means 4 power cables, and two video cables for each, so 16 cables in total.
I used to have three 27″ Dells, 1440p 60Hz and an Asus PG34GQ, which was an ultrawide 1440p 90Hz monitor that I absolutely loved. But the G-Sync logo on the TV box changed all that.

Untill I got the TV and saw that on the box I was completely oblivious of HDMI 2.1 and how shady nVidia is. You see, G-Sync is a thing of the past with HDMI 2.1 but that didn’t stop nVidia from marketing all HDMI 2.1 things as G-Sync compatible. In fact, HDMI 2.1 variable refresh rate (VRR) support has nothing to do with G-Sync as the spec is entirely different. Same goes for the new GPUs that support HDMI 2.1 output. They have to support VRR to comply with the HDMI 2.1 standard. G-Sync as a technology is dead as HDMI 2.1 will take over the gaming space since 4k @ 120Hz or 8k @ 60Hz is enough bandwidth to cover 99% of gamers. I obviously was very intrigued by this and had to test it out, which I did and I was absolutely amazed by how glorious it is.
The very next day I sold all my monitors and stands and cables and went out and got a second TV to use as a monitor.

Connecting it is way easier since there were only three cables to route and plug in. It is somewhat annoying that LG decided the power lead should be welded into the TV instead of using a socket but oh well, you can’t have everything.
Then there’s the stand. As I mentioned earlier, it is a bit wobbly, probably because it wasn’t intended to sit on top of a desk that moves as you hammer the keyboard. Moreover, the TV sits quite low, the screen starts about 4 centimeters above the desk surface which is way lower than any monitor. I had to go on amazon and get a VESA desk stand for it which worked out great and allowed me to raise it up as well as make it a lot more stable. If I didn’t have a standing desk I would’ve definitely wall mounted it.

Moving on to what it’s like to actually use it as a monitor. In a few words, it is amazing.
My main issue with small 4k monitors is that you can’t really take advantage of that resolution in terms of productivity because whilst you can fit four FullHD windows on any 4k monitor, if the monitor’s physical size is too small that’s going to be completely useless as everything will be too small, buttons and text. That’s not the case when you have a 48″ screen about a meter and a half away from you. I use mine with 100% scaling and it is like having all my old monitors but without the bezels and cable management hell. Couple that with the multiple virtual desktops feature and it is great for productivity. I can have all the windows I would possibly need whilst working in a single view.

Gaming on it is awesome too. Everything is sharp, input lag is essentially nothing in the Gaming Mode and the colours are great.

My biggest problem with using it as a monitor is HDR. HDR in and of itself, in gaming and whislt watching videos in supported apps, is great. Everything else is absolute crap though. You can’t take screenshots because they will either have all their colours blown out or the app will just tell you it doesn’t support HDR, nVidia’s game capture is amongst the apps that don’t support HDR. I did not expect that given the aggressive HDR marketing pushed by both nVidia and Microsoft.

Finally, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, image retention and burn in.
The image retention isn’t really a problem unless you have bright and static content on for a good number of hours, somewhere above four hours in my experience. It seems to be especially bad on websites that still have white backgrounds for whatever reason. Also, it is barely visible on solid, dark backgrounds in my case and completely unoticeable when brighter scenes are involved. This isn’t really a problem as the TV comes with a pixel refresher program. Every time you turn on the TV after it has been on for more than four hours in the previous session you will get a prompt asking you if you want to run it. It takes about 10 minutes and completely clears any image rentention that was there previously. I do not recommend running it if you cannot see the image retained on the screen however. This is because the pixel refresher essentially turns off the screen and waits a bit for it to cool down and then it will run a very bright white line across the screen a few times. Whislt running it once is unlikely to have an effect on the display, running it multiple times, very often, will reduce the lifespan of the panel faster.
For burn in there is not a lot you can do once it has occured. The TV has a more powerfull, and potentially damaging, tool to try and remove burn in but even LG only recommends running that after a thousand hours, or every year. That should tell you that this is not a tool you want to run a lot. There are good news here too though, the TV has a suite of settings that help prevent burn in: Screen Shift which will move the image ever so slightly; Luminance Adjustment which will identify static banners and content and dim that portion of the screen only; really short screen timeouts so that the screen doesn’t stay on too long when idle and very granular controls for brightness and “backlight” control. Moreover, there are things you can do in your OS of choice to alleviate this effect even further such as setting the taskbar to auto hide, making sure the monitor sleep timers are low (I’d recommend a maximum of 5 minutes), using low brightness settings (the lower the better) and reducing OLED Light which has an effect similar to reducing the backlight value on LCD screens.

Closing thoughts

That’s all I had to say about this TV/monitor and my experience with it.

Would I recommend it? Not unless you already have at least two monitors or would like to. Even then, the cost of the TV is problematic at 1500 quid (at the time of writing). The truth is, there are better, more efficient, ways to achieve this level of screen real estate. That being said, if you are a professional and want really good colour reproduction coupled with a very large display and high resolution, yes, definitely get one of these bad boys. If you are a programmer like myself and you constantly have tens of windows open across two to four screens, then also yes. Generally, if your total screen setup comes to about a grand, I’d say it is certainly worth it upgrading to this instead.
For gamers, it depends. If you must have the 240Hz panel with 1ms response time, then you’ll have to stick to TN and probably don’t care as much about colours and very deep blacks so this won’t make sense to you. On the other side, istead of spending a grand or as much as this TV costs on a 34″ ultrawide curved blah-blah, I’d recommend you go with LG’s CX48 every day of the week, just keep in mind that in order to run 4k@120Hz you will need an HDMI 2.1 capable device. But 4k@60Hz ain’t half bad on it either.