The entry-level Nano Cell TV from LG is a far cry from the rest of LG’s line-up.
Even if you don’t know what you’re looking for, the LG Nano 81 TV TV might be appealing to you. The Nano Cell line includes the same color-enhancing technology as LG’s Nano Cells. It has a 4K resolution and HDR support. This TV is a huge upgrade for those who have previously used a 1080p model, but it leaves much to be desired for the price.
The reason is that, while other Nano Cell TVs from LG offer Dolby Vision, native 120Hz refresh rate and full array panels (VRR), the LG Nano 81 uses only edge lighting with terrible local dimming. It is missing VRR, HDMI 2.0 ports and many other next-gen features that you can find in LG’s 2020 TV catalog.
Although the LG Nano 81 doesn’t contain the Alpha a9, Alpha a7 Gen. 3, or the Alpha a9 Gen. 3, the good news is that it benefits from LG’s advances in scaling algorithms. This TV’s superior viewing angles and eye-catching design, along with its IPS panel, are not insignificant. However, it severely limits who it is intended to serve.
The long story is short. This is LG’s worst ‘premium TV’. Although it is a little better than the regular 4K UHD TVs from LG, it is still a bad choice for those who want to spend a bit more.
LG NANO81 on Amazon for $997.94
Release date and price
The LG Nano 81, part of LG’s 2020 TV catalog, was released this year. The screen size options are 55 inch, 65 inch, and 75 inches. Prices start at $649.99 / PlayStation699 (around AU$900 for the 55-inch 55 NANO 81) and go up to $1,499 for 75 NANO 80, which is exclusive to the US.
We’ve seen decent discounts on the LG Nano 81 – The 55-inch model is now down from $499.99 at Best Buy, and will likely stay there. While the 75-inch model is currently under $1,000 at some retailers, the 55-inch version has already been discounted to less than $1,000. This is a great deal considering their starting price and could mean that they could drop even further for BlackFriday.
The downside to the Nano 81’s price is that LG’s Nano Series TVs, which are much better, aren’t too expensive. The next step up is the LG Nano 85 at $699.99. It has a 55-inch model and HDMI 2.1 with a 120Hz refresh rate. This makes it a better choice for the Xbox Series X or PS5. While the LG Nano 90 costs only $799.99, the Nano 85 at $799.99.
Its design is what makes the LG Nano 81 suffer from its most serious performance issues, but it actually looks like a premium TV. The front face of the LG Nano 81 has very little bezel and the stand with a crescent-shaped shape makes it look very modern.
Edge lighting means that the TV’s back doesn’t protrude too far, making it ideal for wall-mounting. It’s also not as heavy as other screens, even though it is 55 inches.
There are four HDMI ports on the TV’s back, as well as one USB port. You also have a set component inputs and an Ethernet port. These HDMI ports are all 2.0b, which is the older standard. HDMI 2.1 ports would have enabled many more features. However, the TV’s native 60Hz refresh rate meant that 4K@120Hz was not possible.
This TV comes with the LG Magic Remote, which is a great remote that feels amazing in your hand. You can hold the Amazon Prime button on the remote to open Alexa. The remote also has buttons for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. To summon Google Assistant, you can simply hold the microphone button on your remote.
Smart TV (WebOS and ThinQ AI)
With a good wireless connection, load times are almost non-existent. With both Amazon Prime Video and Netflix loading at almost instantaneous speeds, we were able to move from Netflix to Amazon Prime Video in just seconds.
Even though LG’s WebOS has a few missing fringe services, it supports almost every major player with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. The latest additions to this lineup are Disney Plus as well as Apple TV Plus. This is great news for those who want to watch Ted Lasso or The Mandalorian.
WebOS’ last feature is screen mirroring. This feature allows anyone connected to your Wi-Fi network to cast content from their phone or tablet to the TV. This is a great feature to have when you are entertaining guests and want to show them a clip from YouTube or when you want to see something that would look better on 65-inch screens. It doesn’t matter what, it is extremely convenient.
The LG Nano 81’s picture performance can be mixed. The LG Nano 81’s picture performance is mixed. Full-screen video games and cartoons look fantastic, but TV shows and cinematic films look terrible due to the poor local dimming and limited brightness.
What is the worst kind of local dimming? You can expect to see a halo surrounding any bright image with a dark background and the backlights at the top and bottom of your screen. This is very noticeable in an all-dark space and can detract greatly from your next movie night. Although you can set the local dimming at a lower level in the picture settings, it doesn’t make things any better.
While darker films are affected by the poor local dimming, brighter films don’t seem to shimmer as much due to the TVs low peak brightness. This is not an issue for HD/SDR content, such as local news. However, you will notice it more when you watch 4K/HDR content, such as The Mandalorian, or any of Netflix original films or shows.
The LG Nano 81 TV is the only Nano Cell TV that does not support HDR10 or HLG. This means that the HDR version of Netflix and Vudu will not be available. However, they will still allow you to stream HDR shows on Netflix and Vudu. They won’t have the same refined color grades or higher peak lighting as the Dolby Vision version.
It’s a good deal if you…
This TV is best suited for HD/SDR content. It might be the right choice if you are only interested in viewing that content.
If you plan to continue with the PS4 Pro / Xbox One X
Similar to the previous consoles, if you stick with them for the next few decades, you won’t have the same issues with the LG Nano 81’s lackluster performance and cutting-edge features.
It’s not worth the risk if…
You see things like light blossom and haloing If you notice blooming or haloing – basically any light that isn’t supposed to be there – the Nano 81 won’t please you. Poor local dimming and edge-lit design are to blame.
Are you a sports fan or a next-gen player
The TV’s native 60Hz refresh rate is another limitation. This is a problem for gamers next generation who require 4K at 120 frames per seconds, as well as sports watchers who need fluid motion handling.