When it comes to TVs, there’s really only two types you’re looking at. OLED and LCD. LCD TVs come in many forms, including LED, NanoCell, QNED, QLED… but they are all LCD. OLED on the other hand is new and it’s different.
Today I’m comparing the 77” C1, LG’s 2021 OLED against the 75” QNED99, LG’s 2021 8K Mini-LED TV. But which is better? With so many different TVs to choose from, how do you know which is best for you? And what are the real pros and cons of an OLED or QNED?
We’ll look at picture quality, motion handling, gaming, viewing angles, reflections, HDR and SDR content. Plus loads more. Whether you’re looking to use one of these TVs for watching movies or gaming with the PS5 or Xbox Series X, I’ll cover it all.
Let’s start with the main differences between these two TVs.
The TV on the left is the QNED which is an 8K LCD TV. It’s actually part of LG’s new Mini-LED range. Each Mini-LED forms part of a zone which controls the pixels you see, turning them on and off as required. It’s a combination of LG’s NanoCell and Quantum Dot technology.
As these pixels are grouped together in a zone, it’s not possible to completely turn each pixel off. This means, which we’ll see later, that the blacks aren’t great.
The TV on the right is a 4K OLED. There’s no backlight here like with the QNED, as each individual pixel is self-lit. This means that instead of having a zone or cluster of pixels being dimmed or lit together, they are 100% self-controlled. There are literally millions of pixels all able to power on and off, which leads to deeper blacks overall
Those are the differences, but these are the similarities between the two. They are both 2021 models, similar size, have HDMI 2.1 support, webOS and LG’s game optimiser mode.
Right, let’s take a look at how both of these TVs handle 4K and HDR content. These will be your movies and TV shows. I mainly watch Netflix, Disney Plus and Prime, all of which support 4K, so this should give a good example of the picture quality.
Now when I did the QNED videos a few weeks ago I talked about how good the picture quality was. As it’s a great TV. But from my testing over the last week or so, whether that’s splitting the signal or streaming to both screens, the OLED has looked better in almost every single test.
The actual picture of the TV, the sharpness, the detail even the colours is so much punchier on the OLED. It just looks nicer overall. It makes the QNED look a little washed out here, and the contrast is nowhere near as good.
But the contrast goes hand in hand with the black levels too. So when you’re watching any dark scenes on these TVs, you want the blacks to be as black or dark as possible. You don’t want them to be grey or cloudy looking. And this is where the OLED is better again.
Remember that the OLED’s pixels are self-lit, while the QNED’s pixels are grouped together in zones using Mini-LEDs. In these dark areas, you can see that the OLED is perfect at showing shadows and contrast, whereas the QNED struggles to show the same level of control. This might not be a huge issue for most, and when I was only using the QNED I didn’t really notice this, as it’s amazing at controlling the zones using full array local dimming. It’s only by comparing them can you really see it.
I think it’s safe to say that during the day both TVs look great though. Even with the contrast differences the QNED still has a great picture.
However, during the night is where I can really see the difference. Once the lights are dimmed the OLED looks even sharper and more vibrant, whereas the QNED seems to emphasise the LED backlight and black level issues. Basically any image on screen that shows a dark area or shadows, you can very clearly see it’s more grey than black.
Looking at the brightness between the two TVs, it’s difficult to capture this but the QNED is definitely brighter than the OLED. I’ve tried to match the brightness between the two TVs to make it easier to record and watch, however if I maxed them both out to 100%, the QNED is so much brighter. For me that’s not an issue as my room is pretty dark and the TV isn’t opposite a window. But if you were placing the TV in a bright room or near windows, the QNED would be the better choice for maximum brightness. With the current QNED, QLED and OLEDs available, it’s well known that OLEDs, generally speaking, don’t get as bright as the others.
This next point only really applies to these two TVs, not QNEDs and OLEDs in general, and that’s upscaling. Both TVs can upscale content to 4K, in fact the QNED can actually upscale to 8K. So with that in mind, you’d expect the QNED to look better at upscaling anything SDR.
Here they are, I’m splitting the same picture to both screens where the QNED should in theory look superior. I’m not really seeing any difference between the two in terms of resolution improvement, which shows that unless you’re watching native 8K content, the QNED isn’t adding any huge leap in quality.
Viewing angles are one of the biggest differences between these TVs. When you watch either of them straight on they look great. But as soon as you start to move off center, this is where you really notice the difference in picture quality and contrast.
Looking at the OLED first, the picture looks very similar throughout as I move to the side, same quality, contrast and colours. Other than any reflections, you don’t lose any clarity in the picture. This is great if you have seating off centre to the TV.
Now taking a look at the QNED. Starting at the front I begin to move around to the side, I can immediately see how the picture starts to lose contrast and colours. The picture actually starts to look quite bright as you can see the LED backlights working behind.
This is fine if you’re watching it straight on, but if you’re sat to one side, maybe not to this extreme, you’re going to see a different image than elsewhere. I’m not sure if this will be an issue for most, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Burn in is one of the biggest talked about points for OLEDs. So it’s worth mentioning today.
Burn in is where you get long term image retention if you display static images or logos for a long period of time. Usually things like channel logos or Heads up Displays in games. Personally for me I’ve never had an issue with this. I might swap my TVs out once a year, but I’ve still got my 3 year old OLED in the bedroom showing no signs of burn in either.
I’m not saying it’s not real, as there’s plenty of reports out there, but it’s never stopped me from playing games or using it for long periods of times.
QNEDs on the other hand don’t have any such problem. There’s practically no risk at all for burn in. So if you wanted a risk free gaming TV, maybe QNED would help you out. But for me, having used 4 different OLEDs over the years, I’d still buy another one.
Input lag / Gaming
If you are using either of these TVs for gaming, you’ll want to know about input lag and the gaming features they offer.
Fortunately both have a very low input lag so gaming is not an issue at all. Generally speaking OLEDs are decent anyway, and any LCD TV with a game mode will do a great job too.
Comparing these two though, the C1 OLED can go as low as 5.2ms whereas the QNED99 is at around 6.2ms. That’s rapid. That’s faster than most monitors that aren’t gaming focused.
Both of these will make great gaming TVs, which if you follow me already, know that I game on my TVs with both the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Everything I’ve played on these two, whether it’s been Call of Duty, Spider-Man or Kena has had no issues.
As both of these are the 2021 models they come with LG’s game optimiser mode. This new overlay shows you some extra and easy to access settings you can change. These don’t boost performance at all, but you can control things like the shadows and highlights along with the picture profiles.
One thing to note is, the C1 supports VRR, AMD FreeSync and G-Sync, along with HDMI 2.1 for 4K at 120Hz. The QNED99 also supports HDMI 2.1 with 4K at 120Hz, however it does not support VRR, AMD FreeSync or G-Sync. This is a shame for a TV that does support the game optimiser mode, and especially for a 2021 TV costing as much as it does.
We’ve just talked about viewing angles, so we should look at the reflections of these TVs too. OLEDs generally speaking have a glossy screen, that although it’s tinted it’s still very reflective. This means that if you’re viewing this TV in a well lit room or near windows, you’ll see everything in it. I have lights behind the TV and a window to the side, so straight on isn’t an issue. But once you move around you can see the windows and any lights I have on near the sofa.
The QNEDs and LCD TVs in general usually have a matte or anti-reflective screen, which makes them ideal for brighter rooms or near windows. You can see that there’s still a reflection with this TV, but it’s not as mirror-like as the OLED.
A few other similarities between these two TVs, if you were looking at the 2021 LG QNEDs and C1 OLEDs. They both have the same remote control, or magic remote. Same buttons and magic wand features.
Taking a quick look at the UI and the apps, both TVs have the new 2021 webOS features. So the full home screen displaying your available apps on both. There’s no difference here at all.
If you’re not using a soundbar you might be interested in knowing what the speakers are like on these.
The QNED99 has a 60W 4.2 down firing speaking setup which supports Dolby Atmos. Whereas the C1 has a 40W 2.2 down firing speaker setup, also supporting Dolby Atmos. The C1 does change to front firing with the stand installed too.
The QNED sounds a lot better, but that’s no surprise with the extra channels and power. But as I’ve said before on other videos, I’d always go for external speakers over TV speakers if you can.
Design / Thickness
When it comes to the design and overall look of these TVs, they are different. While the OLED has an extremely thin frame at the top with a bulkier bottom, the QNED has an overall thinner profile from top to bottom.
So if you were wall mounting both of these, and you weren’t going for the G series, the QNED is a lot thinner. Plus it has these mounting brackets built into the TV to allow for a flush fit to your wall.
The QNED has some branding on the TV itself, while the OLED has the branding on the stand. Both stands have cable management built into the back, but I prefer the OLED stand here.
Both TVs come with the same ports, so that’s 4 HDMI 2.1 ports, ethernet, USBs, headphone out and optical. But the QNED has a better design and placing of these. I like the fact the ports will mean all cables won’t stick out towards the wall.
Right, so we’ve talked about picture quality, brightness, blacks, viewing angles, gaming and reflections. But which is right for you? Or which is best suited for your needs?
If I had to simplify it, I’d say the QNED is ideal for brighter rooms, maybe with a lot of ambient light or near a window. The increased brightness of the TV will help you. Also if you’re worried about burn-in, the QNED might give you peace of mind. But with that comes slight viewing angles issues and compromised black levels. If you watch a lot of TV at night, you’re going to see some grey shadows and backlit issues.
On the other hand you’ve got OLED which offers a better input lag, better picture quality and incredible blacks. Plus if you’re watching it off center the viewing angles are awesome. But if your room is really bright or it’s opposite a window, you might see a lot of reflections.
Although these TVs are very similar in specs, the QNED99 does offer 8K capabilities, however none of the examples or tests I’ve shown today really showed this.
But let me talk about prices. They are on sale at most retailers, but I’ll use LG’s website to show the RRP and current prices.
Now here in the UK, the QNED was £6,000 at launch while the C1 was £4,000. They are now £4,500 and £3,500. The only reason the QNED is more expensive here is because it offers 8K, the 4K version is a lot cheaper. In fact what the 4K model lacks in resolution, it makes up for with VRR. If you were looking at the QNED99, I’d choose the QNED91 instead.
Which is better?
So the ultimate question is, which is better? Which would I recommend buying now I’ve compared the two side by side, and tested out as much content as possible on them?
I’d pick the C1. It’s better and it’s cheaper, but even if the QNED was cheaper, like the 4K models will be. For me there’s no reason at all I’d pick the QNED over the OLED, even with the pros and cons, the OLED just provides the overall better picture quality.