(Pocket-lint) – The BX is the 2020 entry-level offering in LG’s OLED 4K TV line-up. With a tempting price tag, and a raft of advanced features, it hopes you won’t notice the step-down Alpha 7 picture processor behind the panel.
Not that there’s anything particularly discounted about the BX. LG’s third-gen Alpha 7 processor is still very capable, and you get the AI goodies found on LG’s CX range.
- 4x HDMI, 2x USB
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Classic and classy, a razor thin bezel and panel make the BX a high-tech headturner.
LG isn’t afraid to push the boat out when it comes to industrial design – just consider its Gallery, Wallpaper and rollable models – but the BX is obviously more conservative. The panel is wafer thin, though, swelling only to house electronics and inputs.
The central pedestal, with subtle brush finish, will look good with most AV furniture, and the build quality is fine.
Round the back are four HDMI ports, which are worth a closer look. Two of these are v2.1 and support 4K at 120Hz – specifically 40Gbps at 10-bit 4:4:4 – so they’re enabled to make the most of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X when they’re in full flight. The remaining HDMI ports are regular 8-bit 4K/60p inputs. Naturally, there’s also eARC/ARC support.
They’re joined by a trio of USB ports, Ethernet, optical, and analogue digital audio outputs, plus a CI card slot should you live somewhere that needs one.
The screen comes with LG’s standard cursor-based Magic Remote control. This Bluetooth pointer has a distinctive thumbwheel control plus dedicated buttons for Netflix, Prime Video, and Rakuten TV.
- LG webOS smart platform
- Google Assistant
- Works with Alexa
- Freeview HD
Smart connectivity comes via LG’s webOS smart platform, complete with a full larder of OTT streaming services. All the key players are stocked, including Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, Britbox, Twitch and YouTube.
But for everyday catch-up, the pickings are more sparse. The set offers both terrestrial and single satellite tuners, but disappointingly there’s no Freeview Play, so we get vanilla Freeview HD instead, which means no integrated catch-up. You’ll need to turn to an exterior box to keep up with your soaps. Unless you’re an Eastenders fan, as BBC iPlayer is provided.
ThinQ AI implementation offers digital assistant integration, for voice control of volume and channels, and it’s also compatible with Apple’s Homekit and AirPlay 2.
AI has been knitted into the operating system, to the point where it warrants its own AI Service menu. Here you can toggle Adaptive Audio and AI Picture Modes. Both use machine learning techniques to maximise performance. Squeezing the best from an LG OLED often seems like a daunting task, but leaving the screen on AI autopilot makes a lot of sense.
Joystick jockeys will be pleased to hear that in Game mode, input lag measured a mere 14.6ms (180/60), which can be considered a podium performance.
- Alpha 7 Gen 3 processor with AI
- Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10
- Filmmaker Mode
With rich colour and punchy dynamics, the BX puts in a praise-worthy picture performance. Especially as this is a so-called “entry” set – which rather undersells it.
The set exudes all the characteristic loveliness associated with OLED: perfect black, profound contrast and vibrant hues, and while the Alpha 7 processor doesn’t quite offer the refinement of the range-topping Alpha 9 (as found in the step-up CX model), it’s no slouch.
Particularly with native 4K content, resolution and texture is excellent. We suspect many would be unable to distinguish this processor in a shoot-out, particularly on this smaller screen size (we’ve reviewed the 55-inch model, but 65- and 77-inch models are also available).
Picture modes include Vivid, Standard, Eco, Cinema, Sports, HDR effect, Filmmaker Mode, ISF Expert Bright Room and Dark Room. That’s a good selection, but only a few really work well if you watch telly with the house lights on, and some are just plain ugly.
Vivid is overly lurid with radioactive greens, while the preponderance of duller presets are intended for dark room viewing. For most content, Standard would be our go-to setting.
LG’s HDR support here is wide but not comprehensive – as there’s no HDR10+. But there is Dolby Vision, HLG and standard HDR10. Plenty to keep the set able to read various data to bring the best dynamic range and peak whites to those viewing experiences.
The BX’s HDR handling is pretty good too. We measured peak brightness at just over 600 nits (cd/m2), but this was with a 5 per cent testing window. It has no problem with bright, specular highlights. On a 10 percent measurement window, however, the figure drops significantly – so big swathes of graded HDR highlights have less intensity than smaller pinpricks.
Motion interpolation can be quite heavy handed too. To avoid artefacts, the user setting with de-judder at 0 and de-blur at 10 does the trick. Alternatively, just turn TruMotion off.
- Dolby Atmos support
- 40W power output
- AI Adaptive sound
The set’s audio performance is as good as you might hope from a set with downward-firing stereo drivers. With 40W of amplification onboard, there’s plenty of oomph, and it’s really no worse than you’ll hear on CX models.
Sound modes comprise Standard, Clear Voice IV, Cinema, Music, Sports and Game. The vanilla-flavoured Standard mode is generally the best option, as the audio comes au naturel without any surround or voice-embellishments.
Dolby Atmos compatibility doesn’t translate to immersive audio on the BX’s internal speakers. It does actually sound a little fuller when it’s engaged, as though the mid-range is plumped forward, but it’s not a surround experience out of the box.
The LG OLED BX may be the wallflower in the company’s 2020 OLED line-up, but it’s actually a great value buy.
Image quality is solid (some picture presets not withstanding), and connectivity options will bring a twinkle to any gamers eye. We don’t know for sure if 4K 120fps transpires to be the killer app for next-gen gaming, but having the option available sure feels good.
Those less interested in gaming though will be disappointed with the lack of Freeview Play and catch-up. But plug in a separate box and you’ll be good to go, safe in the knowledge that you’ve acquired an OLED that punches well beyond its asking price.
This set is around a hundred notes cheaper than the BX and has a comparably strong picture performance. It’s smart Saphi platform also offers key streaming services but it’s bolstered by Freeview Play with all its catch-up TV apps.
The more advanced 805 is only a smidge more expensive than the BX, but comes with a full-fat Android TV OS and more advanced AI powered picture processor, as well as universal HDR support. There’s also Ambilight mood lighting built in – which looks great.
Writing by Steve May. Editing by Mike Lowe.