Traditionally the premium G models in LG’s OLED TV ranges have played the posh but niche sibling role against the brand’s vastly more popular mid-range C series. This year, though, we have a feeling that, thanks to its revolutionary new Micro Lens Array technology, the new G3 range could finally become the leader of LG’s OLED pack.
After years of relatively incremental, mostly software-oriented annual improvements, the OLED TV world has suddenly enjoyed a surge of hardware enhancement too. The arrival of high-brightness ‘EX’ panels really got the ball rolling last year, but it’s 2023’s introduction of micro lens array (MLA) technology into LG’s G3 OLED range that promises to truly transform our expectations of what OLED TVs are capable of.
MLA technology is actually pretty easy to explain (for a change).
It simply involves placing an array of tiny lenses just behind the screen that essentially improve the ‘focus’ of the light produced by all the TVs’ tiny self-emissive OLED pixels. The beauty of this approach is that it achieves substantially more brightness (more than 30-40% more versus last year’s G2) without the need for extra power, and without requiring the OLED pixels to be driven harder (meaning there should be no increase in the potential for OLED’s organic elements to fade over time).
The MLA technology also doesn’t appear to involve any really major cost increases. The 65-inch OLED65G3 has just launched at £3,499, which compares with a £3,299 launch price for the OLED65G2. Take the inflationary forces of the past 12 months into account and the £200 difference really doesn’t seem excessive given the leap in picture quality the G3 promises.
Settling in to watch the OLED65G3 makes two things about its new MLA technology instantly and jaw-droppingly clear. First, it doesn’t have a negative impact on any of the strengths we’ve long come to associate with LG’s OLED TVs. Second, it allows the OLED65G3 to produce not just far more brightness than any OLED TV has ever produced before, but more brightness than we’d ever honestly imagined an OLED TV would ever be capable of.
This totally transforms the OLED65G3’s performance with the high dynamic range pictures that are such a key and beloved part of today’s home entertainment landscape. The lightest parts of HDR pictures - shots of the sun, lamps, illuminated dashboard lights, gleaming reflections of sun on metal or glass and so on - explode off the screen in a way we haven’t seen from an OLED TV before.
It’s not just small bright areas that benefit from MLA technology, either. Large areas of high brightness, such as patches of daytime skies viewed through a window, look spectacularly more impactful than they do on regular OLEDs. Even HDR shots that flood the entire screen with brightness look substantially more impactful and luminous than they have done on any previous OLED TV.
As well as giving you a much more impactful and satisfying HDR experience, the OLED65G3’s unprecedented brightness makes its pictures much easier to still enjoy in a fairly bright room, and takes a big bite out of the one performance advantage that’s traditionally associated with rival premium LCD TVs.
The OLED65G3’s colours benefit from the MLA-inspired brightness, too, achieving levels of dynamism and vibrancy that are only possible when there’s so much brightness available to feed into them. In fact, the OLED65G3’s dazzling colour response is arguably even more of a welcome shock than its huge brightness leap. We’ve long thought that because LG OLED TVs use a white brightness-boosting sub-pixel alongside the traditional red, green and blue sub-pixels, their colour saturations would likely reduce if brightness levels were pushed as far as they are by the OLED65G3. While last year’s G2 models (based on new high-brightness EX panels) backed this theory up by suffering with slightly washed out colours at times, though, the OLED65G3 turns the theory on its head by serving up actually more richer, more natural saturations than its predecessor, despite being massively brighter.
So amazed was I by the richness of the OLED65G3’s colour display, in fact, that I asked LG to explain how it might be possible. And its reply was that it’s mostly down to improved software processing that does a better job of optimising the new panel’s all-round capabilities. It seems incredible to me that a software tweak could make the sort of difference the G3 delivers, but I have no reason to doubt LG’s word. And in any case, all that really matters is that the OLED65G3’s colours look fantastic.
The processing responsible for the OLED65G3’s beautiful colours is the sixth generation of LG’s Alpha 9 engine, which also delivers improved, AI-powered upscaling of HD sources, a new Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro system that divides the picture up into no less than 20,000 separate components for advanced analysis, and a system that detects and treats different objects in a picture individually to try and create a finished image that looks more like the way our eyes see the real world.
I said earlier that the OLED65G3’s brightness (and related colour) talents don’t come at the expense of any of LG’s regular OLED talents. So let me back that up by saying that the new TV still delivers OLED’s peerless black levels, for instance, providing a pretty much perfect cinematic foundation to the brave new world of colour and brightness opened up by MLA technology. What’s more, because each OLED pixel can produce its own light level independent of its neighbours and because the subtle power controls required to deliver ‘near-black’ picture information are so well handled, the OLED65G3 produces even the subtlest of picture details in even the darkest corners of the darkest pictures. This ensures that dark scenes look as three-dimensional, natural and generally awesome as bright scenes do, giving you a wonderfully consistent viewing experience no matter how bright or dark a film might get.
The promised improvements to upscaling deliver the goods brilliantly when you have to watch HD content, adding all the necessary extra pixels so intelligently that the picture looks almost as richly textured, devoid of noise and subtly toned as native 4K.
The OLED65G3 continues what’s now a long-running theme for LG OLED TVs of being as spectacular and enjoyable with gaming sources as it is with video. It handles 4K/120Hz game feeds beautifully, and its new-found extra brightness and colour saturation unlock even more of the glories of today’s HDR games than last year’s already stellar C2 and G2 models did. The OLED65G3 also handles variable refresh rates flawlessly - including the AMD Freesync Premium and NVidia G-Sync formats - and helpfully puts all the game-related tweaks and information you need in a dedicated Game onscreen menu.
The OLED65G3’s extra brightness helps to sell LG’s recent improvements in sharpness, too, as the enhanced difference between the image’s dark and bright areas makes textures and details feel more intense.
If you have a really (really) bright room to cope with, it’s worth pointing out that 2023’s premium LCD TVs will still be able to deliver significantly more brightness, especially with full-screen bright content, than even the revolutionary OLED65G3. But the OLED65G3, of course, can deliver local contrast intensity and levels of light control precision that no LCD TV can.
In terms of actual flaws in the OLED65G3’s pictures, the set appears to lose a little shadow detail in the darkest picture areas when playing Dolby Vision sources. Very bright ambient light levels can seem to introduce a hint of greyness into the screen’s otherwise impeccable black levels too, and oddly the Standard mode the TV defaults to out of the box sometimes looks a little less bright, especially with full-screen bright images, than the other presets. This is apparently a result of this default preset having to meet the EU’s stringent new power consumption regulations.
Judder with 24p movies can seem a little more pronounced than it did on LG’s 2022 OLEDs if you’ve turned off all the OLED65G3’s motion processing - but I think this is simply a factor of the extra brightness adding more definition to object edges. In any case, LG now provides some impressive motion processing tools that can take the edge off the judder without making the picture look unnatural.
Finally, while the OLED65G3’s colours are much more vibrant than those of 2022’s G2, they aren’t quite as rich as those of a Philips 907 OLED TV we ran the OLED65G3 alongside, especially during dark scenes. I wasn’t always convinced, though, that the Philips model wasn’t slightly over-cooking things, and the G3 definitely performed better on shadow detail, dynamic range and brightness.
As you can probably tell, though, I’m really straining to come up with anything truly negative to say about the OLED65G3 pictures. The bottom line is that its new MLA enhancement lifts OLED technology’s already gorgeous picture quality into a whole new stratosphere, taking the fight to its Mini LED and Quantum Dot OLED rivals with a level of confidence and panache that has to be seen to be believed.
While the OLED65G3 doesn’t satisfy with its sound nearly as much as it does with its pictures, it does have one clever trick up its audio sleeve. Namely that its AI Sound Pro system is able to upscale any incoming sound, even if it’s only stereo, to a virtual 9.1.2 channel count.
To be clear, all of the OLED65G3’s 4.2 speakers are built into the TV’s svelte bodywork; there are no external subwoofer or rear speakers in tow. Yet somehow the TV really does manage to make you hear sounds that seem to be coming from down the side of your seating position - even slightly behind you when it comes to some ambient effects and elements of a musical score.
The soundstage in the AI Sound Pro mode spreads a good distance to the left and right of the screen too; there’s even a mild sense of height; dialogue sounds remarkably crisp and clear; and details are prominent and clean.
Unfortunately, though, creating such a large and mostly well steered sound stage seems to take almost all bass out of the OLED65G3’s audio presentation, while making trebles sound a somewhat harsh and dominant.
Trying the other sound setting options LG has provided, though, finds the sound shrinking back into the TV too much for comfort, so that it loses impact and scale. The OLED65G3’s bass drivers do become more present in the mix outside of AI Sound Pro mode, at least, but these low frequency sounds still tend to sound rather soupy and forced, and sometimes fall into crackling and distortions when pushed hard.
The OLED65G3’s Dolby Atmos mode, finally, does some things well. Dialogue is beautifully positioned on the screen and presented with so much clarity that I actually picked up muttered words in some films that I’d never been able to distinguish before through a TV sound system. Ambient effects and scoring are also beautifully staged to a point well beyond the TV’s left and right sides, and detail clarity and placement is quite effective right across the large soundstage.
Unfortunately, though, the Atmos mode also still feels rather flat and lacking in dynamism - especially during the biggest, densest action scene moments where you’d normally expect Dolby Atmos to really explode into life. Bass also, again, sounds muted and compressed in Dolby Atmos mode, as well as occasionally suffering with some crackling and buzzing distortions.
In short, anyone willing to invest so much in the OLED65G3’s stunning pictures will almost certainly feel the need sooner rather than later to add a separate sound system if they don’t have one already.
With its silvery metallic sides, impressively trim monolithic profile and strikingly narrow bezel, the OLED65G3 makes a very pretty addition to your living room. Its slenderness, recessed mounting fixtures and provided wall mount make it exceptionally well suited to hanging up like a painting, but you can also buy an optional extra, plate-style desktop stand if that suits your room layout better.
Connectivity is excellent, with all four of the OLED65G3’s HDMI ports supporting everything any user, be they a gamer or a home cinema fan, could possibly want to watch.
LG has continued to refine its smart TV interface for this year, to the point where it’s now much slicker and thoughtful in the way it lets you customise its presentation and hunt down content you want to watch. A major rejig of the TV’s picture and sound set up menus, meanwhile, has made them both more compact and simpler to navigate. You can even customise which options appear on the ‘home’ set up screen, depending on which tweaks you use the most.
The OLED65G3’s extra brightness makes it significantly more fun to watch in a bright room than previous OLED TVs too, and finally its comfortable ‘Magic’ remote control joins its predecessors in uniquely offering three different ways of navigating the TV’s menus: Traditional navigation buttons, a spinning wheel for moving swiftly up and down vertical option lists, and even a point and click option.
The OLED TV world has never seen as big a leap in performance in a single generation as the LG OLED65G3 delivers, with the extra brightness it brings to the OLED party serving up spectacular picture quality results that merely enhance rather than upset all of OLED’s usual strengths. Anyone who thought traditional OLED technology was about to be put out to pasture by newer rivals seriously needs to think again.
It 4K Blu-ray
The first of Andy Muschietti’s two It films is an AV treat - if a TV can handle it. It provides more TV ‘torture tests’ than arguably any other 4K Blu-ray around thanks to its unusually extreme combination of rich, bright exteriors and ultra-dark, murky but also detailed dark scenes. The OLED65G3 handles everything the notoriously difficult It transfer has to throw at it with a level of accuracy and aplomb, though, that we’ve simply never seen before.
Blade Runner 2049 4K Blu-ray
The pristine 4K imagery and gorgeously subtle use of colour and light in Denis Villeneuve’s mighty sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1981 masterpiece feels almost like it was tailor made to show off just how next-level impressive the picture quality of LG’s new OLED TV is. Though its enormous, bass-heavy Dolby Atmos soundtrack also exposes the limitations of the OLED65G3’s built-in audio system.
Puss In Boots: The Last Wish 4K Blu-ray
The 4K Blu-ray release of this unexpected animated hit features some of the boldest use of colour and high dynamic range mastering seen on a 4K Blu-ray to date. As such it proves to be a fantastic disc for appreciating just how big a step forward the OLED65G3 is over any OLED TV LG has delivered before.
Thanks to its revolutionary new Micro Lens Array technology, the OLED65G3 is the brightest and most colourful OLED TV we’ve ever seen. Which pretty much automatically makes it arguably the finest TV we’ve ever seen, period. Especially as it can adapt to bright as well as dark room use so much better than any of its predecessors.