LG Electronics (LG) teased its upcoming 2019 4K Ultra HDTV announcements for CES 2019 by confirming rumored reports Wednesday night that its new flagship TVs with ThinQ AI will feature an advanced new processor called Alpha 9 Gen 2. This is said to drive powerful “deep learning algorithms” for artificial intelligence in both 4K and new 8K TVs.

LG said the new processor will be the heart of the company’s 2019 4K OLED TVs, including the W9, E9 and C9 series. It will also be a big part of LG’s first 8K TVs, which will appear for sale in the U.S. this year. LG said its first 8K models will include a new 88-inch Z9 series 8K OLED television and a 75-inch 8K full-array LED-LCD TV that will highlight the company’s line of “NanoCell” TVs.

LG is dropping the use of the term Super UHD TVs in 2019 and is naming its 4K and new 8K LED-LCD TVs after the color-enhancing NanoCell technology they employ. NanoCell technology is basically LG’s approach to delivering the wide color gamut benefits of competitors’ quantum dot televisions, using a different formulation and techniques.

LG said it is also adding support for new HDMI 2.1 ports in all 2019 OLED TVs and selected NanoCell TVs with ThinQ AI. This, among other features, will support high frame rate (HFR) technology to produce smoother and clearer motion at up to 120 frames per second for better rendering of fast-action content such as sports and action movies.

HDMI 2.1 enhancement will also feature enhanced audio return channel (eARC) that provides greater bi-directional bandwidth to support uncompressed audio formats (like Dobly TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio) and object-based surround formats (like Dolby Atmos) in the highest quality. It will also help gamers by enabling new features like variable refresh rate (VRR) and automatic low latency mode (ALLM) for cleaner images without stutter or tearing.

The popular entry B9 4K OLED series isn’t expected to transition until later in the year, but only the flagship series will include the new α9 Gen 2.

The α9 Gen 2-equipped models will offer enhanced picture and sound processing in addition to upconversion by analyzing source content an then applying the appropriate enhancement for optimize images tuned to the ambient room lighting conditions, LG said.

The proceesor will draw from a large database with more than 1 million data points to assess content source quality for comparison and automatically apply the best enhancement methods for displayed image.

Furthermore, LG said its open smart platform will access a wide selection of popular AI services across multiple platforms, including newly implemented Amazon Alexa in addition to the built-in Google Assistant voice-control platform. LG said this platforms will provide voice-control interaction in a more conversational and intuitive way, using a “Home Dashboard” that will provide control of a wide variety of smart home devices directly from the TV.

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For 8K, LG’s 88-inch 8K Z9 OLED TV and 75-inch 8K NanoCell LED-LCD TV (model SM99) will benefit from the higher upscaling and noise reduction processing capabilities to present “the most realistic 8K picture quality that looks sharp, vivid and detailed,” the company said.

LG’s NanoCell models, including the SM9X and SM8X series, will both include NanoCell technologies including NanoColor wide color gamut, color accuracy in wide viewing angle (NanoAccuracy) and ultra-narrow thin bezel designs NanoBezel. LG’s NanoCell TVs also offer AI-enhanced picture and sound, powered by a deep learning algorithm, as well as the streamlined experience offered by ThinQ, LG said.

In addition to content source detection, the new processor finely adjusts the tone-mapping curve in accordance with ambient conditions to offer optimized screen brightness, leveraging its ability to understand how the human eye perceives images in different lighting.

The processor uses the TV’s ambient light sensor to measure light levels, automatically adjusting brightness to compensate as needed. LG continued that the α9 Gen 2 AI can further refine HDR content by adjusting the brightness to “transform even the darkest scenes into ones with incredible contrast, detail and depth of color, even in brightly-lit rooms. And by leveraging Dolby’s latest imaging innovation which intelligently adjusts Dolby Vision content, LG TVs deliver a compelling HDR experience under varying ambient light.”

For sound quality, an intelligent algorithm is used to up-mix two-channel audio to “virtual 5.1 surround sound.” The α9 Gen 2 processor will optimize output based on content type, making voices clearer in movies, dramas and news broadcasts, among others, the company said.

Sound settings will be either user-adjustable to suit the room conditiions or can be set to automatically and intelligently set the the best levels for the surroundings. LG’s flagship TVs will continue to feature built-in Dolby Atmos to create incredibly realistic sound for more immersive entertainment.

The 2019 LG ThinQ AI-based TV models will continue to embed Google Assistant voice-powered AI to make daily tasks from operating TV controls to controlling smart home devices more fluid and convenient. For the first time, 2019 LG ThinQ AI TVs will include compatiblity with the Amazon Alexa platform as well.

The company said that by pressing the Amazon Prime Video button on the Magic Remote, users can manage smart home devices, ask questions and access tens of thousands of skills and even set up an Alexa Routine including a wake-up call, announcing traffic information and tuning to a favorite TV channel upon voice command.

The TVs will also have access via Alexa to Amazon Prime Music, recipes from the Food Network, weather and news highlights from Amazon partner sources.

This year, the TVs allow for more complex requests without the need for repeated requests, LG said. The service will be available on LG TVs with ThinQ AI in over 140 countries.

Pricing and availability for the mentioned TV models will be announced later. No mention was made of LG’s popular entry level 4K OLED TV line — called the B8 in 2018. But this series generally isn’t refreshed until the later part of the year.


By Greg Tarr


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