LG 4K LCD TVs Continue Controversial RGBW Tech
Although LG garnered a lot of attention at the recent CES 2017 for its new 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TVs using Nano Cell technology, lost in the marketing buzz was the fact that the majority of LG Electronics’ lower-cost 2017 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TVs now use the company’s controversial RGBW technology that arrived to much debate two years ago.
Tim Alessi, LG Electronics home entertainment marketing director, told HD Guru prior to the show that RGBW panels will be used this year in all but two series of 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TVs, encompassing 14 core-line models.
“That’s everything except for the SJ8500 and SJ9500 series,” Alessi said.
LG has yet to announce model pricing for the 2017 TV lines, so we can’t point out specific price savings the use of RGBW will bring this year, though its use last year resulted in more affordable entry to mid-range 4K UHD price points in LG’s assortment.
The 2017 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV series using RGBW panels include: the UJ6300, UJ6500, UJ7700 and SJ8000. The SJ8000 is part of LG’s premium Super UHD LED LCD assortment offering its advanced new Nano Cell LED LCD technology.
The distinction is made here because the RGBW technology’s purported benefits and shortcomings have been hotly debated, primarily between LG and rival Samsung. Importantly, LG Electronics has elected over the last two years not to formally identify in literature, packaging or signage which of its LED LCD TV models use RGBW panels. However, the company generally identifies panels using In-Plane Switching (IPS) panels and other technologies.
Read more on LG’s 2017 RGBW LED LCD TVs after the jump:
LG uses two different forms of RGBW technology that are quite different in implementation and performance. One is used in its top-end 4K OLED TVs and the other is used for lower-tier 4K LED LCD TVs, primarily as a cost-savings measure. In the OLED approach, each pixel includes a white sub-pixel in addition to red, green, and blue, sub-pixel, to produce brighter images (used for HDR among other things). In the LCD approach, RGBW panels use a complex scheme where every fourth sub-pixel in a row is white, requiring each white sub-pixel to be shared by adjacent pixels.
Critics of the LCD approach to RGBW say the unusual sub-pixel arrangement prevents the panels from achieving full UHD color resolution, and therefore the displays do not meet the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) definition of a 4K Ultra HDTV – this requires 3840×2160 active pixels with 8-bit color (each pixel needing to carry a separate R, G and B subpixel across the screen). But LG has countered that its RGBW displays achieve full UHD monochromatic resolution and full resolution on the luma (brightness) channel, which is all that some other international standards organizations require for a 4K UHD designation.
Note: LG Display, which manufactures the LCD panels with RGBW technology for LG Electronics, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of LCD TV panels. It sells RGBW panels to other television manufacturers and brands. So far, none of those panel customers have called out the use of RGBW panels in their 4K Ultra HDTVs in 2016, and most have refused to disclose whether they use RGBW panels or not.
Even Samsung, which was originally the most vocal critic of RGBW technology, would not comment to us on whether or not any of the LCD panels it is reportedly starting to acquire from rival LG Display this year will be of the RGBW variety. A Samsung spokesman pointed to a long-standing company policy not to comment on issues involving component supply.
According to a Bloomberg report this week, Samsung, hampered by a global panel supply shortage, had to turn to LG Display for LCD panels this year after one of its auxiliary sources – Sakai Display (Foxconn/Sharp)–decided to stop selling Samsung LCD panels from its factories.
To its credit, LG has always fully disclosed the use of RGBW panels in its model lines when specifically asked. It has also proudly called out the technology’s various benefits including lower cost, energy savings or higher brightness (depending on the application), among others.
So, what does this mean to you? Possibly nothing or possibly a lot, depending on how sensitive your sight is to subtle points of color and detail, and how much you are willing to pay, or save, when buying your next TV. Importantly, it gives you a little additional information to ponder when choosing between different models.
Critics of LG’s RGBW for LCD panels say the shared white sub-pixel scheme limits the rendering of fine text, and makes the image somewhat fuzzier when trying to read Web pages or documents delivered by a connected PC. LG denies this. Critics have also said that under some conditions, RGBW images produce lower color volume, particularly in reds, that can appear to lose saturation with higher brightness compared to pixels with full RGB sub-pixels.
While some of this is visible in real world images, many of the limitations are noticeable primarily in test patterns, which most consumers will never see.
LG 2016 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV core series using panels with RGBW technology include: the UH6100, UH6500, UH6500 and UH7100.
LG 2017 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV models using panels with RGBW technology include:
SJ8000 Series: (minimal design metal frame, 4K IPS, Nano Cell tech, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG)
55SJ8000, 60SJ8000, 65SJ8000
UJ7700 Series: (minimal design metal frame, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG)
49UJ7700, 55UJ7700, 60UJ7700, 65UJ7700
UJ6600 Series: (metal frame, Active HDR/HDR effect)
UJ6300 Series: (Active HDR/HDR effect, webOS)
43UJ6300, 49UJ6300, 55UJ6300, 60UJ6300, 65UJ6300
By Greg Tarr
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