On Cyber Monday, I bought one of the best TVs out there, the LG C2 OLED. In fact, our LG C2 OLED review explains why it's the best TV out there (we rank it as such on multiple pages). In short: excellent color reproduction, all the right bells and whistles for gaming, and then some.
But even on sale for Cyber Monday, it cost more money than I like to say aloud (okay, fine, the 55-inch LG C2 OLED is $1,299 at Amazon, $300 off the normal price). And that's a huge investment. One that I didn't want to make at all. But I ruined the last OLED I had burning artifacts into its display. And that was annoying me since this past spring when I first noticed it. Months later, I buckled and hit "Buy."
Since I'm Tom's Guide's streaming editor, my over-analyzing didn't end there. Instead, I spent the next days over-analyzing every streaming decision I was making on the LG C2. The shows and movies I watch mean a lot to me — I guess that's what happens when you spend too much on the best streaming services. It all added up to a couple of weeks that have me pretty confident about how to make movies and shows look fantastic. That OLED I ruined had sold me on perfectly dark black tones and fantastic contrast, and the C2 looks even better.
And, the fantastic news I can report, is that even though I've spent some time tweaking settings, I have zero buyer's remorse. I love this TV, and I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure it lasts as long as possible. Here are the shows and movies I've been testing, and if I needed to change any settings to make them look their best.
Tip: How to adjust LG C2 TV settings
In this article, I discuss changing picture settings. To adjust to a preset, click the Gear button on the Magic remote and select the top option (the picture settings).
Then, there are the clarity settings (which some call Soap Opera effect). To find those, hold the Gear button, select Picture, then Advanced, then Clarity and look for TruMotion.
Avengers: Endgame (Disney Plus)
In news that should surprise nobody, Avengers: Endgame is a gorgeous movie. But the thing that caught me off-guard completely was how immaculate Robert Downey Jr. looked in the beginning, as Tony Stark was floating in space. I've watched this movie on 4K TVs before, but Mr. Stark never looked as crisp as he did then. For this movie, I have the LG C2 set to Dolby Vision Cinema Home, and while I have TruMotion turned off to prevent "soap opera mode," something almost looks uncanny about this specific scene. That said, my eyes got used to it quickly.
These utterly depressing scenes were almost undercut by how crisp everything looked. The color contrast and balance enabled by Dolby Vision and the OLED panel gave a better look for the scenes where Tony Stark's confessionals to Pepper. The darkness seemed more immersive, giving his speech even more sadness.
Watch Avengers Endgame on Disney Plus
Top Gun: Maverick
Watching Top Gun: Maverick on 4K Blu-ray, I felt entranced and amazed as I enjoyed the cockpit shots. These planes are flying at almost alarming speeds, and the LG C2 showed off so much impressive detail in these moments.
The intimate scenes that show the faces of the pilots and the snowy landscapes are hypnotizing, and the clarity with which they're presented is impressive. This is a movie that makes me wonder if I bought a large enough TV, because the size of the screen truly made the flight scenes more impressive.
Due to how much action there is in Top Gun: Maverick, I toyed with the Clarity feature's Cinematic Motion setting. That option is meant to help enable make movement look more like how it did in the screen. Still, though, I found the best image quality with this setting disabled (I might tinker with this in the future). Again, the color and black tone reproduction abilities of this OLED panel sang beautifully in Top Gun: Maverick. This was most notable with fiery explosions and the blues and blacks of the room where Jon Hamm's character issued orders from.
Buy or rent Top Gun Maverick on Amazon, watch it on Paramount Plus starting Dec. 23
Watching street gangs go to battle all across Neo-Tokyo, I knew I made the right choice to watch the seminal anime film Akira on the LG C2. The film puts biker gang buddies Kaneda and Tetsuo in the middle of a government conspiracy, and finds the less-confident Tetsuo gaining supernatural abilities and lashing out at the world. An already beautiful movie, Akira's got simple animation that the LG C2 helps sing.
Oh, and while you can watch Akira in HD on Hulu (and I did as a part of my testing for this story), I prefer to watch it on the recently remastered 4K Blu-ray I own, where the details of the dimly-lit bar the guys hang out at look much clearer. Even with that lower resolution, the chase scenes still look fantastic. The head and taillights — especially those trailing red lights coming off of Kaneda's chopper — pop perfectly. No big presets that needed changing here, the 4K Blu-ray supports Dolby Vision, so Cinema Home is still what I used.
Watch Akira on Hulu or buy the 4K Blu-ray on Amazon
Yes, I'm still trying to get into the biggest show on TV. And when I watched Yellowstone episode 3 on the LG C2, I was as amazed as I was deflated. While this TV is fantastic for seeing crystal-clear views of a Montana landscape untouched by development, where the blue skies and green trees just look perfect? One of Yellowstone's grim death scenes looked came through very clearly as well, with a character's face shaking they delivered a grim line of guilt-inspiring dialogue.
Every single pore and hair was as clear as could be, and before I knew it was impressed by the amber waves of grain that horses were galloping above. Later, in a pitch-dark night scene, the outlines of a young Kayce Dutton looked even brighter off of the inky black background of the field he was waiting in.
Stream Yellowstone on Peacock
The White Lotus (HBO Max)
Then, on Sunday night, I did what a bunch of others did, and watched the White Lotus season 2 finale on HBO Max. And certain scenes I couldn't have expected looked amazing thanks to the dark blacks of the LC C2's OLED panel. For example, a short shot of a volcanic eruption looked all the more poetic when the magma glowed against a dark black sky.
The underwater scenes in this episode have varying degrees of clarity, but I will probably never forget how a certain character's face looked through this vibrant blue hue.
Stream The White Lotus on HBO Max
Avatar (Disney Plus)
As loathe as I am to admit it, James Cameron's Avatar is a beautiful-looking movie. I am not a fan of the original's plot, but I've meant to rewatch before I went to a screening of Avatar: The Way of Water I was invited to. So, I loaded it on LG C2, where the blues of the Na'vi skin, along with the purples and greens of florae all felt alive and electric. And everything looked better once I found the right settings.
I already felt compelled to tinker because Disney Plus doesn't offer Avatar in HDR or Dolby Vision, so I opened up the picture settings and passed through the settings. I've heard that Vivid and Sports mode go too far to try and make something look as bright and as colorful as possible, and that was very true here. Then, I realized that the blues of Na'vi skin looked too muted on the respected Filmmaker mode. Only on ISF Expert mode (set to Bright/Daytime, as my living room has some light leaking in), did things look right. That setting also helped the warm hues of the flames in a Na'vi fire pit look just right.
Stream Avatar on Disney Plus
Barbarian (HBO Max)
One of the best movies of 2022, Barbarian reminded me of the merits of Filmmaker mode. With that setting enabled, a scene where Tess (Georgina Campbell) was exploring the Airbnb from hell looked much more accurate. Switching from Filmmaker to ISF modes, I noticed the latter either added too much brightness or went too dark. There may not be one perfect picture setting for every movie.
Lighting and color balance can be crucial for horror movies such as Barbarian, and when you get a TV this nice, you want to make sure you're using it right. Later in the film, when characters are soaked in red light at a dark bar, the LG C2 allowed the tones to look fantastic, without getting too bright or losing any detail.
Stream Barbarian on HBO Max
I'm a bit confused. (I'm also 70 years old....") I had an Atari 2600, and a Sega Genesis. I recall that many of my classmates learned the hard way that if you were not actually playing a game, you needed to turn the hardware off. If you left pong on the screen all night you might be forever haunted by the video ghosts, aka artifacts.
I thought that this was an issue that was dealt with back in the late 70s or early 80s. By any chance were the artifacts you mention come from a PC game, or was it an ordinary tv show?