LG To Add ThinQ Voice AI To 2018 4K UHDTVs
The LG W8 4K Ultra HD OLED Signature Series TV with ThinQ AI voice control technology
LG Electronics will unveil at CES 2018 next week 2018 lines of 4K Ultra HD OLED, 4K Super UHD and 4K UHD LED-LCD TVs, and an improved webOS smart TV platform with ThinQ artificial intelligence (AI) linked to integrated Google Assistant voice control.
Although LG has elected to have its televisions support both Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa voice-powered technologies, only Google Assistant can be used with the sets’ remote-button-controlled voice input. This will control basic set functions, and search for content.
Users with Amazon Alexa-enabled home automation products will need to connect an Alexa smart speaker, like the Echo Plus or Echo Dot, to have the television use Alexa Skills to operate a variety of features and functions.
Read more about LG’s 2018 4K Ultra HD TV introductions after the jump:
This year, much of LG’s advancements in OLED technology come through the use of its next-generation “Alpha 9” processor. This is said to “double-up” on the removal of common artifacts, including false contours (banding) and mosquito noise, for an overall smoother image.
The new sets will treat image enhancement differently particularly in the areas of sharpness and object-based contrast, in part, by focusing on edge detail to produce a more natural look. The processing will also include a more than 700 percent increase in look-up-table (LUT) color mapping coverage for what LG said will be more accurate color tone mapping.
4K Cinema HDR (formerly known as Active HDR) this year has been improved to deliver more natural-appearing HDR images. All OLED models will continue to support HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and Technicolor HDR profiles in 2018.
In addition, this year LG is adding what it calls HDR10 Pro and HLG Pro, which add dynamic HDR-like-enhancement to the two corresponding HDR formats that lack dynamic metadata capability. LG said that although the new HDR systems don’t make use of metadata instructions in the content, the technology is designed to estimate what the tone mapping elements should be on the screen based on the continually changing information in the picture.
The sets will also be able to utilize HDR information coming in content mastered for the new Technicolor HDR process. LG also continues to offer in OLED and Super UHD LED-LCD TVs Technicolor Expert Mode, which tweaks color reproduction to optimal levels, the company said.
Also this year, LG 4K OLED TVs will be able to support high frame rate (HFR) content, once that starts to become available. LG anticipates new generations of content will start to be mastered at 120 Hz frame rates to produce smooth flowing and clear images of moving subjects. However, this forthcoming HFR content will only be supported internally through supporting streaming apps, and future over-the-air ATSC 3.0 broadcasts (tuned with a future USB tuner dongle). This year’s sets will not have HDMI 2.1 inputs, which are needed to ship some HFR material into the TVs from external sources over HDMI, because the specs for this latest HDMI version were too late in arriving for 2018, LG executives said.
“We do believe high-frame-rate content is coming,” said Tim Alessi, LG director of product planning. “We know that major Hollywood directors like James Cameron and Jon Landau have talked about how we new need high frame rates to build a better experience.”
The 2018 OLED sets also include enhancements to LG’s popular webOS smart TV platform. This year the platform will include built-in artificial intelligence (AI) allowing control of various television functions using the TVs’ Magic Remote. The new smart remote controls carry push-and-hold-to-activiate microphones to accept voice commands and perform program searches.
For on-board audio, 2018 4K OLED TVs will continue to include decoding for Dolby Atmos 3D audio.
LG will offer five OLED model series again in 2018 with the B8, C8, E8, G7 (an updated G8 series might come later in the year) and the W8 Signature series. At the start of the year, LG will carry over the G7 models but expects to update those to G8 versions later in the year, demand permitting.
Unlike in 2017 where the same strong picture performance was included throughout all of the model series, LG will offer a step-down level of picture performance in the entry B8 series. These models will have a less-powerful Next-Generation “Alpha 7″processor. All 2018 models starting with the C8 series and up will feature the new Alpha 9 processor and provide the same level of picture performance.
All models will have 4K Ultra HD resolution and will support the different flavors of HDR and the new HFR capability.
Cosmetic styling for the different series will be similar to 2017. The W8 Signature Series will have a “Picture on Wall” (aka Wallpaper) design with an external Dolby Atmos speaker bar; the E8 series models will have a “picture-on-glass” design; and the C8 and B8 series will both have a “blade slim” cosmetic design.
Pricing and availability on all LG 2018 TVs will be announced later.
For screen sizes, the W8 series will be available in 77- and 65-inches; the E8 will be available in 65- and 55-inches; this year the C8 will add a 77-inch screen size to 65- and 55-inch versions and the B8 will be available in 65- and 55 inches.
The only other difference between model series will be in on-board audio capability. As mentioned, all models will support Dolby Atmos decoding. The W8 and E8 series will have 65-watt 4.2-channel audio systems, and the C8 and B8 series will have 40-watt, 2-channel onboard sound systems.
LG will continue to push the envelope on 4K/HDR picture performance in LED-LCD television technology through its Super UHD tier of model series in 2018. LG’s Super UHD models will continue to employ LG’s “Nano Cell” technology, which Alessi described as “a different way of getting the same result” produced by competing quantum dot technologies.
“Quantum dot accelerates light in different colors while Nano Cells filter wavelengths in between colors,” Alessi explained. “We are very satisfied that Nano Cell is doing everything it was intended to do with the added benefit of improving viewing angles” through the use of LG’s In-Plane Switch (IPS) panel technology.
This year, LG is improving the picture performance of Super UHD LED-LCD TVs by switching from LED edge lighting in the top two of the three 2018 Super UHD series lines to full array with local dimming (FALD) technology, bringing to those models more localized lighting control on the screen for improved black level performance and greater shadow detail.
In addition, this year’s Super UHD TVs will reduce screen reflections by what LG said is up to 44 percent from last year.
Like the 2018 OLED TVs, the 2018 Super UHD TVs will all incorporate a Next-Gen processors, but all of these will be the “Alpha 7” version used in the B8 2018 entry OLED series.
Super UHD models will also include the multi-flavor 4K Cinema HDR system with high frame rate content support used in the OLEDs, will decode Dolby Atmos sound internally (a change from the Harman Kardon developed sound system from last year) and will have the new ThinQ AI voice technology found in 2018 OLED sets.
The Super UHD tier will feature three series: the SK9500, with 65- and 55-inch screen sizes, the SK9000, with 65- and 55-inch screen sizes and the SK8000 series, with 75-, 65- and 55-inch screen sizes.
The SK8000 series will have an edge-lit LED-LCD panel with local dimming. The SK9000 series will have FALD LED backlighting and the SK9500 series will have FALD with Local Dimming Pro enhanced backlight control, and an increased number of LED zones (LG would not say how many) compared to the SK9000 models.
Below the Super UHD LED-LCD TV series, LG will offer edge-lit 4K Ultra HD LED-LCD series including the UK7700 (65-, 55-, 49-inches), the UK6500/70 series (86-, 75-, 70-, 65-, 55-, 50- and 43-inches) and the UK6300 series (65-, 55-, 50-, 49- and 43-inches).
These models will all have quad-core processors.
LG said that this year only select models (screen sizes below 50 inches) in the UK6500/70 and UK6300 series will use the company’s RGBW panel technology, which has been controversial because some claim it doesn’t achieve the necessary RGB subpixel count across the screen to achieve true 4K resolution. LG has disputed this contention, but it apparently has scaled down the use of the technology in the 2018 line just the same. Depending on the application, RGBW was developed to produce a brighter image or greater power efficiency, which ever is desired.
All UK7700, UK6500/70 and UK6300 series will use IPS wide angle panels, “4K Active HDR”, “Ultra Surround” on-board sound systems, and webOS with Google Assistant AI voice capability.
The UK7700 series models will add Nano Cell technology for a wider color gamut, and local dimming in all models. The UK6500/70 series models will offer local dimming in the 70-, 65- and 55-inch models only. The UK6300 series models will offer local dimming in the 65- and 55-inch models only.
LG will continue to support lines of HD and Full HD LED LCD TV models in smaller screen sizes in 2018.
The LK5400 Full HD LED LCD TV series will include the 49-, 43- and 32H inch screen sizes. All will have quad core processors, the webOS smart TV platform (requiring separate Google Home device), Active HDR, and Virtual Surround Plus.
LG will offer one 49-inch 49LJ5100 Full HD LED-LCD non-connected television with dual-core processor and Clear Voice on-board sound.
LG is also offering 43- and 32H-inch Full HD and HD models of non-smart LED-LCD TVs with Clear Voice sound in the LJ5000 series.
By Greg Tarr
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