LG Electronics announced at CES 2019 its new television lines, highlighted by the first consumer 88-inch 8K Ultra HD OLED TV and a 75-inch 8K “Nano Cell” full-array LED-LCD TV.

The 8K sets will join expanded lines of large-screen 4K LED-LCD TVs and 4K OLEDs, all running the company’s ThinQ AI home control technology. Meanwhile, LG continues to use CES this year to establish OLED as a TV technology category unto itself by building consumer awareness while boosting picture and sound performance higher every year.

In addition to adding an 88-inch 8K OLED model (more on this below), the company revealed another form-factor breakthrough in OLED technology by unveiling its 4K Ultra HD “rollable” OLED TV R, which will retract out of sight into a box at the base when not in use.

Beyond OLED, the company said it continues to improve performance and awareness of its top-level 4K Ultra HD LED-LCD TVs series, which was formerly known as Super UHD and is now known as “LG Nano Cell” TVs.

At the same time, LG, like other TV makers this year, is continuing to follow the shift to larger screen sizes by offering more SKUs measuring 70-inches and larger. Additionally, more models than before will include internal decoding for Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound from supported content through Atmos-enabled streaming apps.

In related technologies, LG is emphasizing connectivity across a range of products for the home, including the company’s webOS-based smart TVs with ThinQ Artificial Intelligence (AI) voice control, Magic Remote and other applications. This year’s system has been improved to recognize more coversational-style commands to, for example, enable saying “Turn off the TV when this program ends” as a sleep timer command.

The 2019 televisions will also continue to work with the Google Assistant third-party voice AI platform and will now add support for the Amazon Alexa platform as well. LG is enable these platforms to receive voice commands through the supplied Magic Remote as well as through the far-field mics in the Amazon Echo/Dot and Google Home smart speakers and devices. LG said this will cover “over 80% of the installed base” of voice-controlled AI devices people are already using.

LG has added a “Home Dashboard” tile on the webOS launcher bar to recognize any devices that are connected by an HDMI input as well as any compatible connected home Internet of Things (IoT) devices on the home network. This will enable controlling these devices through the television’s various interfaces.

Alpha 9 Gen. 2 Processor

The 2019 LG TV line includes enhanced picture quality using more advanced and powerful processors, including in all OLED and one Nano Cell model a “Generation 2” class of intelligent processors that build upon last year’s Alpha 9 processor that was included in most 2018 LG 4K OLED TVs that produced improved contouring reduction and a massive 33:33:33 look up table (LUT).

This year’s Alpha 9 Gen. 2 processsor adds to that “deep learning capability” using AI technology leveraging a “huge database” of data point layers that filter through TV signal to help the television identify the best way to present an incoming signal and optimize it for the best image for the original source and condition in which it was received.

In addition, 2019 TVs will include “a completely new tone-mapping algorithm” to help measure ambient room lighting and continual adjust the picture for the best brightness of the TV picture without sacrificing either the bright highlights or the shadow detail.

In addition, the Alpha 9 Gen. 2 will continue to improve upscaling of lower resolution content to 4K Ultra HD and in some new models 8K Ultra HD resolution for 2019. LG said the better processing performance this year is particularly important in its planned 8K televisions, due to lack of native 8K content, making viewers more dependent on watch lower-resolution source material that is upscaled and processed to the highest possible levels to fill all of the additional pixels on the screen.

In the 8K models, LG said the Alpha 9 Gen. 2 processor will add a 6-step noise reduction process for the clearest possible images.

High Frame Rate and HDMI 2.1 Capability

In 2019, LG OLED TVs and select Nano Cell LED-LCD TVs will include High Frame Capability (HFR) capability, not only with internally streamed content, but over HDMI input sources as well. Select 2018 models had HFR capability built-in for streamed content only. Select models this year will also add support for various other enhancements including Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and other features that will be part of the forthcoming HDMI 2.1 input standard.

The company said it will have “several” TV models in 2019 that will have HDMI 2.1 to support the new functionalities. This is particularly important for 8K content of 60fps or higher, as well as adding Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) bandwidth, ALLM video gaming with low lag, and other benefits.

Sound Quality Improvements

In addition to offering more LG TVs that support decoding Dolby Atmos internally, LG is using AI technology to improving the sound on many of its televisions and connected sound bars. The AI technology will detect the type of programming that is being played to determine, for example, if program is a music video or a theatrical feature and adjust the sound settings to the optimal levels, by expanding the overall sound and enhancing the sound right from the TV speakers. This will also be user-defeatable for those who don’t care for it.

As previously reported here, LG has also signed on with WiSA wireless speaker technology to offer support for wireless speakers in select 2019 LG TV models.

2019 OLED TVs

This year LG with have C9, E9, W9 and the new Z9 8K series. All will feature support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, 4K Cinema HDR with 4K HFR via HDMI input, and webOS with ThinQ AI supporting Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant platforms. The entry B8 series 4K OLEDs, which were introduced later in the year, will be carried over into the early part of 2019, LG said.

As for brightness capability, LG said there will be no change in peak brightness levels for 2019.

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Pricing was not disclosed for any of the 2019 LG products as this was posted.

LG’s OLED models this year will include the second generation of AutoCal by Portrait Displays/Spectracal. This year, LG is expanding the capability by incorporating key 4K and HD test patterns right in the set, removing the expense of an outboard test pattern generator. This is expected to make some of the expense of home calibration more affordable and easier for AV enthusiasts.

DIY-minded users can now calibrate their own TVs after purchasing a colorimeter like a SpectraCal C6-HDR and a copy of SpectraCal’s Home Enthusiast version of CalMan software for a few hundred dollars instead of several thousands of dollar with an outboard test pattern generator.

The C9 models will be offered in the 55-, 65- and 77-inch screen sizes and will be similarly featured to 2018’s C8 series. This year’s models have a refreshed Cinema Screen design style and 40 Watt, 2.2-channel on-board sound.

Like the 2018 E8 line, the lone 65-inch 65E9 4K Ultra HD OLED model will have 4K resolution and will feature a “Picture On Glass” design style, which has been enhanced with a hidden stand that makes for a floating screen effect. It will step up to a 60 Watt, 4.2-channel front-firing sound system

The W9 series will have 4K resolution and will again have LG’s “Wallpaper TV” ultra-thin panel design offered in the 77- and 65-inch screen sizes, and will a 60 Watt, 4.2-channel soundbar and all of the other 2019 feature upgrades.

The Z9 series will be one of LG’s first consumer-distributed 8K OLED televisions, and will be offered in a massive 88-inch screen size. The television will add the new Alpha 9 Gen. 2 processor for 8K, an 80 Watt, 4.2-channel sound system, and an all-new styling design.

Nano Cell 4K Ultra HD LED-LCD TVs

The new LG Nano Cell 4K and 8K televisions will be offered across five series — the SM8100, SM8600, SM9000, SM9500, and SM9970. All will have the same color-enhancing Nano Cell technology that was found in the Super UHD series of the last two years. This year, they are simply called Nano Cell TVs to highlight the enabling Nano Cell technology that improves and widens color gamut performance and reduces screen glare.

Like the OLED TVs, the 2019 Nano Cell models all include support for Dolby Vision, and all have a native 120 Hz refresh rate, 4K Cinema HDR, webOS with ThinQ AI, Google Assistant and Alexa support built in. However, most will have a different processor than is used in the 4K OLED models.

The 75-inch 75SM9970 Nano Cell TV will include the Alpha 9 Gen. 2 processor used in the OLED models. The other four Nano Cell TV series will used the Alpha 7 Gen 2 processor. The 75SM9970 will also have 4K Cinema HDR with 4K HFR via HDMI, Alexa and Google Assistant support, built-in Dolby Atmos, and Full Array LED backlighting with “Dimming Pro” technology.

The 65-inch 65SM9500 Nano Cell TV will have the Alpha 7 Gen. 2 processor, and the rest of the features of the 75SM9970.

The SM9000 series Nano Cell TVs will be offered in the 86-, 75-, 65- and 55-inch screen sizes. All will include most of the features of the SM9500 series, except the 65- and 55-inch models will step-down to “Full-Array Dimming” and not the more advanced Full-Array Dimming Pro technology.

The SM8600 series Nano Cell TVs will be offered in the 75-, 65-, 55- and 49-inch screen sizes and will have most of the same features as the SM9000 series, except it will step-down to “local dimming” technology, and will not have 4K HFR via HDMI capability or Dolby Atmos decoding.

LG will also offer three series of non Nano Cell 4K LED-LCD TVs including the UM8070, the UM7570 and the UM7300 series. All will have 4K Ultra HD resolution, many will have In-Plane Switching (IPS) wide angle LED LCD panels, and all will have Quad Core processors, 4K Active HDR circuitry, Ultra Sound on-board sound, and LG webOS with ThinQ AI smart capability supporting Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

The UM8070 series will be available in the 86- and 82-inch screen sizes, and will have 120 Hz native refresh rate panels and local dimming technology.

The UM7570 series will be available in 75-inch screen size only and will have a native 60 Hz panel.

The UM7300 series will include the same features as the 75UM7570 4K Ultra HD LED-LCD TV and will be available in the 70-, 65-, 55-, 50-, 49- and 43-inch screen sizes.

For Full HD TV, LG will continue selling products from 2018. For new models, LG will not offer any Full HD models larger than 43 inches, as the majority of the assortment transitions to 4K. LG will offer a non-smart 32-inch 720p HD set and a 43-inch 1080p Full HD model.

2019 Sound Bars

LG said it is looking to capitalize in the more than 30% annual growth rate of soundbars by expanding its assortment of sound bars. This will include three models with “dimensional sound” and Hi-Rez audio support. Additionally, three of its 2019 soundbars were developed in association with audiophile technology company Meridian.

The LG/Meridan models include models SL8YG (3.1.2-ch, 440 Watt, sound upmixing), SL9YG (4.1.2-ch, 500 Watt, wall mount) and SL10YG. All include “Bass and Space” height elevation, Acoustic Foundation tuning, sound algorithm collaboration and in the SL8 and SL10 MAL UpMixer technology.

On those three premium-level sound bars, support for full DTS:X object-based surround sound will be added to the Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual:X formats of last year. They also feature Google Assistant support.

All 2019 LG sound bar models will integrate with LG’s optional SK8 wireless rear-channel speaker kit.

The flagship SL10YG, which will ship in April, will feature 5.1.2-channel surround with 570 Watts, Google Assistant support and TV Perfect Fit that allows positioning the sound bar almost flush to the wall with only a 2.8-inch clearance for optimal integration with a wall-mounted TV. It will also have an auto-room calibration system built-in to optimize sound output to the characteristics of the room.

Shipping in March, April and May, the 2019 LG mid-range sound bars all will continue to offer DTS Virtual:X. These will include the SL5Y (400 Watt, 2.1-ch., Hi-Rez Audio), SL5R (520 Watt, 4.1-ch, rear speaker, Hi-Rez Audio), SL6Y (420 Watt, 3.1-ch., Hi-Rez Audio), and SL7Y (420 Watt, 3.2-ch, Hi-Rez Audio, works with Google Assistant).

The LG SL4Y will ship in May as the lone entry level sound bar. It will offer 2.1-channels and 300 Watts of system power.

 

By Greg Tarr

 

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