42-inch OLED TVs have arrived. Almost a full year after LG Display first confirmed that 42-inch OLED panels were on the way, we're seeing the first-ever 42-inch OLED TV unveiled for CES 2022.
The LG C2 OLED is, unsurprisingly, the 2022 successor to last year's LG C1 – a hugely popular screen that marries top-notch picture quality with semi-affordable price points.
There are a number of incremental upgrades for LG's 2022 OLEDs, including a new EX panel structure that should boost brightness by 30% compared to traditional OLED (so, likely only a small boost over last year's LG G1 and Sony A90J, which offered 20% above the average).
But the real standout feature is the inclusion of a new 42-inch OLED panel size. We're only getting it for the LG C2 so far, which lines up with release strategies in previous years: LG tends to push a new size through its C Series range, before gradually rolling it out to other models, as with the 48-inch OLED TV size in 2020, and the 83-inch size in 2021.
The democratization of OLED
In May 2021, LG Display said that it's "set to strengthen its lineup by producing 83-inch and 42-inch OLED TV displays starting this year, adding to the existing 88-inch, 77-inch, 65-inch, 55-inch, and 48-inch OLED TV displays."
While the 83-inch sizes came out in early 2021, though, the smaller 42-inch size has been slower to make it to market.
We fully welcome the addition of a smaller OLED TV size; OLED has long been a pricey technology, and smaller sets will only bring down the cost further while allowing those with limited space a way to get quality images into their home. Those with small TVs are often left with low-spec models, as manufacturers save their best processors and panels for bigger, flashier screens.
The 42-inch LG C2 will pack the same a9 Gen 5 processor, 120Hz refresh rate, 4K HDR panel, and HDMI 2.1 spec as its larger siblings, so cost-conscious shoppers really won't be missing out by opting for this smaller model. We're yet to hear an exact price tag, but the thought of a $999 / £999 launch price for an LG C Series OLED has us tingling – and it offers a smart alternative to the lower-spec A Series and B Series ranges, which take a hit to specification rather than size to keep costs down.
Paul Lee, Head of Global Research at Deloitte, predicts that OLED TVs won't get a lot smaller than they are now, telling TechRadar that “Having lots of data on a small screen is hard. Watching a really good movie on a small screen is hard. I would expect television, increasingly, in terms of drama and sports and the like, to be formatted for large screens. So I really can't see OLED TVs becoming a lot smaller.”
Don't expect 32-inch OLED TVs anytime soon, then – especially as LG has shown no sign of moving into HD OLED panels alongside their 4K and 8K ranges.