With the Nano81 the Korean manufacturer LG releases a low-cost TV that uses the NanoCell technology to create purer colors. The NanoCell series is not new at all. Indeed, LG is clearly trying to focus more on the NanoCell technology that gave the series its name. But of course, the question arises whether the series will stand out from the even cheaper UHD 4K TV series, or whether it is a marketing strategy to increase the price. We will get to the bottom of this question and take a closer look at the NANO81.
Despite its low price, the LG NANO81 has a well-done design and makes a classy impression. It looks very similar to the other 2020 NanoCell TVs and the quality of the build is equally good. We did criticize the simple design of the NANO86 a bit, but for a TV in the price range of the NANO81, it is quite impressive.
Its narrow frame does not distract from its picture. In combination with the shallow depth, it also looks great when mounted on the wall. Unfortunately, LG has not integrated any arrangements for clean cable management in the entire NanoCell range – which is really annoying.
Simple, but great design
Made completely of plastic
No cable management
Rather for brighter rooms - but with wide viewing angle
Since the NANO81 uses a 10-bit ADS panel (8-bit + FRC), its picture quality is not really convincing in dark surroundings. This is due to a not very deep black and a low contrast ratio of 1350:1 – including local dimming. The Edge Lit Local Dimming is also not really convincing, as it only consists of 6 zones. So you can see the individual zones with different brightness levels, which is unfortunately a bit annoying. Furthermore, you can see blooming around very bright objects on a black background. Subtitles are a typical example of this issue. But in return, the ADS panel has a very wide viewing angle and a great reflection behavior. Thus, it can create a quite respectable image in not too bright surroundings. Due to the NanoCell technology, colors are nicely displayed and the color gamut is quite large. The brightness is sufficient for brighter rooms, but for HDRHigh Dynamic Range – image/video with more dynamic range (contrast range) content the NANO81 just does not get bright enough. Highlights can not really be brought into the spotlight, which means that HDR content is only slightly different from SDRStandard Dynamic Range – image/video with a conventional gamma curve (opposite: HDR) – “normal” videos content. In addition, the NanoCell TV is neither equipped with Dolby VisionDynamic HDR-format with a color depth of up to 12 Bits and Mastering of up to 10,000 Nits nor with HDR10+, so that a dynamic HDR optimization is not possible.
10 Bit ADS panel (8 Bit + FRC)
Contrast ratio 1350:1
Edge Lit Local Dimming (6 zones only)
Peak Brightness ~550 Nits
No Dolby Vision
Reasonable motion handling
The ADS panel of the NANO81 has a refresh rateHertz is the derived SI-unit of frequency with 1Hz=1/s – When talking about TVs this means how many different pictures a TV can display in one second. of 60Hz and a response time of about 6ms. Therefore, its motion handling is rather average. Fast movements lead to slight motion blur, which the TV cannot reduce further because it is not equipped with the Black Frame Insertion feature. But there is hardly any stutter visible and in 30Hz content it can be removed by the motion interpolationArtificial calculation of more frames than the source material has to offer feature.
The backlight flickers at a frequencyHertz is the derived SI-unit of frequency with 1Hz=1/s – When talking about TVs this means how many different pictures a TV can display in one second. of 240Hz, which is high enough for the human eye to perceive it as continuous illumination.
JudderInconsistent time frame due to the input frequency not mismatching the TV’s frequency (e.g. 24p via 60Hz) can be removed from most sources – but unfortunately not from all.
Response time ~6ms
Almost no stutter
Removes Judder from many sources
Entry level TV for gaming
Gaming can be a lot of fun with the NanoCell TV. It has a very low input lag of 10ms at a 4K resolution with a refresh rateHertz is the derived SI-unit of frequency with 1Hz=1/s – When talking about TVs this means how many different pictures a TV can display in one second. of 60Hz. LG has also equipped it with an Auto Low Latency Mode, which automatically switches the TV into game mode as soon as a switched-on console is detected. In game mode, the input lag is kept as low as possible, because outside of this mode the input lag is much higher with about 100ms. In game mode, the NANO81 feels very responsive, which will please gamers with Xbox One X or Playstation 4 Pro. However, it can not really push the upcoming Next Gen consoles to their limits. It lacks a variable refresh rate for screen tearing free gaming and an HDMI 2.1 interface is also missing – which was not to be expected at this low price.
Input Lag ~10ms
Auto Low Latency Mode
No Variable Refresh Rate
No HDMI 2.1
Perfect for sports games:
Go to offer
The 2.0 channel 20W sound system does not really stand out among other TVs in this price range. The speakers produce a passable sound with clear dialogues due to well rounded trebles and mid-ranges – but it lacks bass. Unfortunately, the sound system does not really get loud either, so the TV should rather be placed in a more quiet environment. If you want to make up for this flaw with a soundbar, you should keep in mind when buying that the NANO81 supports neither Dolby Atmos nor DTS. An HDMI eARC interface is also not included – which is certainly the case with televisions with a similar, or even lower price level – such as the TU8000. Due to the ARC or the optical interface, only Dolby Digital is supported to create surround sound.
2.0 channel with 20W (RMS)
Well balanced trebles and mid-ranges
No Dolby Atmos
No HDMI eARC
Soundbar with Dolby Digital:
TCL Alto 7
Go to offer
Smart webOS operating system
With webOS 5.0, the NANO81 is equipped with an excellent Smart OS. It can be controlled very intuitively by hand movements with the included Magic Remote, which is undeniably similar to the operation of the Nintendo Wii. However, those who do not like this can also use the conventional control via the remote’s arrow keys. If that also seems too cumbersome, the voice assistants Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can also be used. To make the data exchange between the TV and Apple devices as easy as possible Apple Airplay 2 is also available. The number of installable apps is huge and the most popular streaming providers such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Disney+ are pre-installed. Like the expensive OLEDs, the NANO81 also has LG ThinQ, which allows the TV to display other smart home applications on a dashboard. These can then also be controlled with the Magic Remote, as long as the external applications are compatible.
Intuitive WebOS 5.0
Good remote control
Apple Airplay 2
Large selection of apps
No Twin Tuner
PVR & Time Shift
For a smarter home:
Amazon Echo Dot
Go to offer
Entry into the NanoCell technology
The NANO81 is a well designed television that delivers a good picture quality – especially in brighter environments thanks to the ADS panel. Moreover, it can be used very flexibly due to the wide viewing angle. Thus it can be used for gaming with several people without players having a disadvantage due to fading colors. Because of the ADS panel, its black looks rather greyish in dark surroundings and the contrast ratio is not really high with 1350:1. As a result, its picture quality is not very convincing in dark surroundings, which is the case with all ADS TVs.The wide color gamut ensures vivid colors, but the HDR performance is still not very good, which is due to the average peak brightness. As this is the entry level TV in the NanoCell series, LG has saved most of the extra features for the more expensive models. It lacks Dolby Vision and Atmos, as well as a few functions that improve the gaming experience. But gaming is still a lot of fun on the NANO81, even if it does not have a variable refresh rate and an HDMI 2.1 port. Its smart features are very good and are in no way inferior to the more expensive models, except for the missing twin tuner. So if you’re looking for a smart TV for bright environments, with a wide viewing angle and a good gaming performance for the Xbox One X or PS4, you can not do a huge mistake when buying the NANO81.
The NANO86 is quite similar to the NANO81, even though it has a lot more extra features, which LG saved on the NANO81. The picture quality in bright and dark surroundings is quite similar, which also applies to the wide viewing angle. However, its HDRHigh Dynamic Range – image/video with more dynamic range (contrast range) performance is clearly better due to Dolby VisionDynamic HDR-format with a color depth of up to 12 Bits and Mastering of up to 10,000 Nits IQ and a wider color gamut. Better motion handling is made possible by the 120Hz panel and it also has an HDMI 2.1 interface, which means that the upcoming consoles can be maxed out with [email protected]. Additionally, screen tearing is prevented by a variable refresh rateHertz is the derived SI-unit of frequency with 1Hz=1/s – When talking about TVs this means how many different pictures a TV can display in one second. via HDMI Forum VRRVariable Refresh Rate – synchronizes the display’s refresh rate with the output refresh rate of the graphics card.
The weak sound system of both TVs can be better extended by the NANO86, though, as it has an enhanced Audio Return Chanel (HDMI eARC). This allows you to create uncompressed Dolby Atmos sound via Dolby True HD using external sound systems.
The Q60T is the direct competitor from Samsung’s QLED series. The two TVs show quite similar overall performance, even though the Q60T does slightly better. They differ mainly in the panels used. The VAVertical Alignment, type of LCD Panel panel used by the Q60T provides better picture quality in dark surroundings, as it has a deeper black and a much better contrast ratio of 7000:1. Because the QLED can get brighter, its picture quality in bright surroundings is very similar to that of the NANO81 – even though the LG TV is better at dealing with reflections. ADS panels also have the advantage of a wide viewing angle – which is a major weakness of the QLED. The motion handling and gaming performance also vary only slightly. However, the NANO81 is ahead in this area due to a slightly shorter response time. The Q60T does have an HDMI eARC, which allows it to use soundbars supporting a rich, spatial Dolby Atmos sound.
Since both the LG and the NanoCell TV use an ADS panel, their picture characteristics are very similar. They can be used equally well in brighter rooms and have a wide viewing angle. In return, their picture quality is rather disappointing in dark surroundings. Both TVs can be used very well for gaming, but you should keep in mind that high-end features like HDMI 2.1 or a variable refresh rateHertz is the derived SI-unit of frequency with 1Hz=1/s – When talking about TVs this means how many different pictures a TV can display in one second. are not integrated – which is not really to be expected in this price level. However, the X80H’s motion handling is a bit better due to its lower response time, which is probably not noticeable under normal conditions.
The Sony TV has a better equipment, though. It supports Dolby VisionDynamic HDR-format with a color depth of up to 12 Bits and Mastering of up to 10,000 Nits, Dolby Atmos and DTS. In other words, everything that the NANO81 does not support.