LG Electronics began the retail rollout of its 8K OLED TVs in Japan Tuesday as the country’s broadcaster NHK prepares to present the first 8K video coverage for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The South Korean company has placed its 88-inch LG Signature 8K OLED model at flagship retail stores across Japan, according to a report on the Korea Herald Tuesday. The television will allow local Japanese viewers to catch the upcoming sporting event in native 8K resolution.

With the rollout, LG is trying to show why it believes OLED is the best display technology for 8K content. The report said that demand for OLED technology has been strong in Japan, where the technology accounts for 20% of all TV sales in the country so far this year. The market share percentage surpasses the global average of 6% OLED market share, the report said.

LG is betting that because the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be televised locally in 8K resolution, many residents of the country will be inclined to purchase 8K televisions on which to view the enhanced coverage. However, other sales trends in Japan have shown a reluctance on the part of many residents of the country to purchase ultra-large screen size displays, due to limitations of average living space. Screen sizes of 75-inches and larger benefit the most from native 8K resolution.

Japanese broadcaster NHK began to present “Super Hi-Vision” 8K (in 7680 x 4320 pixel resolution) broadcasts to accompany it Super Hi-Vision 4K broadcasts last year. This programming, available in frame rates of 59.94P, 60P and 120P, is presented daily on a special channel between the hours of 10 am and 10 pm. Audio for these broadcasts is to be delivered 22.2 channel surround sound.

LG showed its first 8K displays — the 88-inch OLED model OLED88Z9 and the 75-inch NanoCell TV model 75SM99 — at CES 2019 in January. It later used the IFA show in Berlin, Germany last September to announce the arrival in stores of those 8K TVs in various regions of the world including the United States, last fall.

LG is now adding Japan to the rollout expansion.

LG is using the occasion to again push its position that its current WRGB OLED technology (using large-format panels produced exclusively by LG Display) produces “real 8K” resolution, because it yields contrast modulation (CM) measurements of around 90%. LG said its 8K NanoCell LED LCD TV introduced at the same time also achieves the recommended CM level.

The CM criteria has been long established by the International Committee for Display Metrology (ICDM) as criteria, in addition to lines of resolution, as the best measure of a display’s resolution.

The ICDM is an international organization that develops display performance measurement standards. It is a part of the SID (Society for Information Display).

Contrast Modulation (CM) measures the ability of a screen to distinguish a pattern of alternating, one-pixel-wide white and black lines. The ICDM’s position is that the higher the percentage of these lines that a display can render, the clearer the images and text will appear.

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The LG Signature OLED 8K model has a CM level of around 90 percent, according to the company. The ICDM recommended level for CM is 50 percent.

LG contends that 8K televisions produced so far by its biggest rival Samsung do not stand up to the CM criteria because techniques used to produce wide angle viewing and reduced screen glare results in a blurring of subpixels that interferes with the ability to clearly distinguish the required number of white and black lines in the pattern.

Samsung has contested this, although it used the ICDM’s CM measurement criteria, in part, to downgrade certain less-expensive LG 4K TVs based on RGBW technology several years earlier. Both LG and Samsung are ICDM members.

However, according to Samsung representatives we spoke to, in the ICDM’s Information Display Measurement Standard (IDMS) documents, “manufacturers are left to use the data and effectively make it sound any way they want.”

The ICDM’s mission statems is to establish proper measurement practices leaving the actual compliance criteria to properly qualified standards setting bodies. LG pointed out that one of those bodies — the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) — has already implemented CM measurements into its criteria for 8K display certification. Certification labels are to start appearing on qualifying products next year.

Conflicts in technical jargon aside, LG is attempting to solidify its leadership in the 8K TV market in Japan by presenting its approach to the technology to visitors to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Korea Herald reported.

Sony, which is Japan’s TV technology leader, has chosen to use LG OLED display panels to produce its successful 4K OLED TVs. However, the company has not yet introduced an 8K OLED model. Instead, it is using full array with local dimming LED-LCD technology in its Z9F Master Series 8K offerings — with 85- and 98-inch screen sizes — this year.

Sony’s sets conform to the CM modulation criteria specified by the ICDM, according to LG. Sony representatives have said that their 8K televisions produce greater peak brightness levels at larger screen sizes than OLED technology can currently produce. Sony’s position is that these higher brightness levels are necessary to produce the levels of image realism and three dimensionality that make 8K images standout on very large-screen displays.

By Greg Tarr

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