The New 4K TV Season: LG

LG makes not only the Swiss Army knife of OLED TVs but also the Rolex.

And best of all, the picture quality is the same regardless of whether you buy:

  • the entry-level C8 (which Trusted Reviews has just judged “the best OLED we’ve ever tested”);
  • the more refined E8 (with its exquisite picture-on-glass design); or,
  • the W8 “wallpaper TV” (which houses all the electronics in a Dolby Atmos soundbar so just the display hangs on the wall like a chic sheet of glass).

LG used the same strategy last year but its 2018 range ups the ante with a new Alpha 9 chip designed to outperform rival brands like Sony and Panasonic, whose first-generation OLED TVs in NZ surpassed the market leader’s in some respects.

Coupled with the peerless versatility of LG’s OLED TVs and lower prices, LG’s line-up sets the benchmark for 2018.

No other brand offers the same mix of futureproofing features, from Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos to Technicolor and High Frame Rate.

All that’s missing is HDR10+ and to some extent LG mitigates with its own dynamic tone mapping system.

LG’s also pushing the artificial intelligence of its OLED and Super UHD LCD TVs but in NZ its implementation will be limited for some months because of issues relating to compatibility and Google Assistant’s roll-out.

Despite the fall of the Kiwi dollar, LG has slashed prices across the range, although it could be argued last year’s were ridiculously out-of-whack with other markets.

For instance, the 65-inch ‘wallpaper’ OLED TV, the W8, has a suggested retail price of $12,000 compared to $16,000 for last year’s W7.

The step-down 65-inch E8 has an SRP of $8300 (compared to $12,000 for the E7) while the ‘budget’ C8 series costs about $1500 less than the C7: the 65-inch model retails for $7500 and the 55-inch for $5500.

This year, for the first time in the C series, there’s a 77-inch behemoth but LG NZ has still to determine if the local market’s big enough to warrant distribution (the 77-inch W8 can be ordered from retailers).

LG also is introducing larger displays in its UHD and Super UHD LCD ranges, topping out at 86 inches for its entry-level UK65 series and 75 inches in the SK85 Super UHD series (they range in price from $2200 for the 49-inch UK7500 to $5300 for the 65-inch SK9500).

Most of this year’s LCD TVs are backlit rather the edge-lit, for better picture quality, and the top-end Super UHD TVs, the SK85 and SK95, have full array dimming to optimise contrast and rival the rich, deep blacks of OLED (the former has 48 dimming zones and the latter, 96).

The Super UHD TVs also have LG’s Nano Cell Technology, LG’s answer to Samsung’s QLED tech, so they can be viewed by as much as 60 degrees off-centre without their colours washing out – which is a critical consideration for families who still watch TV together.

And for the first time most of the Super UHD TVs have both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos (using upward firing speakers), bringing them into line with LG’s OLED TVs.

But where the 2018 OLED TVs will still have the advantage is in their picture-processing prowess.

All three OLED series – C8, E8, W8 – have identical image quality thanks to their new Alpha 9 processor whereas the top Super UHD TVs have last year’s Alpha 7 chip.

The Alpha 9 should close the gap with OLED competitors by reducing picture noise and enhancing depth, improving motion and making colours more realistic.

It also supports high frame rate video images, with up to 120 frames a second for a smooth video with less judder or blur.

This would be a boon for watching sports or action movies but its inclusion is more a cementing of LG’s reputation for futureproofing its TVs than functionality: at this stage there isn’t 120 fps 4K content to view.

And if there were, you’d need a TV with HDMI 2.1, which isn’t expected to be a feature until next year at the earliest.

Also not quite ready for primetime is ThinQ, the proprietary artificial intelligence wizardry LG’s embedded in all of its 2018 TVs.

ThinQ has potential to become the interactive hub of your home, working with everything from electronic programming guides to streaming apps to Google Assistant to deliver real-time information, using Natural Language Processing (NLP). But initially its application in NZ is limited to 30 pre-set instructions.

For more information, see LG’s OLED and Super UHD websites.

Here’s LG’s press release, followed by links to product reviews and price list:

The beginning of LG and Artificial Intelligence

The integration of LG’s proprietary AI technology –ThinQ™– intothe 2018 LG TV range marks a step-change in the company’s commitment to making the viewing experience easier and more interactive.

With AI functionality embedded in LG OLED, SUPER UHD and 4K UHD TVs, LG’s motion-activated Magic Remote has taken on yet another step up, with users being able to speak directly into the remote to make the most of convenient advanced voice assistant technology.

In the  end, LG does this by employing Natural Language Processing (NLP) to deliver intelligent voice-activated control and connectivity based on its deep learning platform, Deep ThinQ®. LG Smart ThinQ works hand-in-hand with popular streaming apps and the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) to deliver real-time information offering the content consumers want most.

“The general phenomenon of Artificial Intelligence – or AI– is beginning to permeate our lives,” said University of New South Wales Professor Toby Walsh, leading Australian researcher in Artificial Intelligence.

“Ultimately every device will soon be listening; waiting to follow our commands and answer our questions. It’s the next level of robotics. But for the everyday items that we rely on the most that also makes it one of the biggest technological and social changes we have seen in decades.

“What makes this even more exciting is that companies like LG are making AI a reality and we are seeing quantifiable changes in the way we can go about our lives; freeing up time and making things easier.”

AI-enabled LG OLED TVs with exceptional processing power  

LG OLED TVs have been in the NZ market since 2013. Over the course of five years, the company has continued to enhance its display technology and offer a variety of different designs and sizes. There are seven new AI ThinQ-enabled OLED TV models for the NZ market in 2018, including the W8, E8 and C8. Designs range from Picture-on-Wall (model 77/65W8), to Picture-on-Glass (model 65/55E8) and Cinema Screen design (model 77/65/55C8).

As a world-leaderand pioneerin OLED display technology, you’d expect no less from LG than a major differentiator. This year, it’s a new processor – the α9 (Alpha 9) intelligent processor. The α9 processor reduces noise, transfers messages faster and creates colours on the screen that look more realistic. It also supports high frame rate (HFR) video images with up to 120 frames per second for a smooth and more life-like video with reduced judder or blur.

Wide viewing angles and deeper blacks in LG AI-enabled SUPER UHD range

LG SUPER UHD TVs continue to bring the whole family together this year,allowing everyone in the household to have an excellent seat in front of the screen. LG makes this possible through Nano Cell technologywith IPS, which helps deliver breathtakingly vivid colours at wide viewing angles.

The line-up of SUPER UHD TVs in 2018 consists of ninemodels, including the SK95, SK85, SK80 and UK75 ranging from 49 to a massive 75-inches in size.

4K Cinema HDR is integrated in selected LG SUPER UHD models and OLED TVs in 2018. The technology brings the best of what Hollywood technology has to offer into the home. 4K Cinema HDR with Dolby Vision™gives viewers an incredibly immersive home entertainment experience. Not only that, but Dolby Atmos®, which is newly integrated in selected 2018 SUPER UHD models, further enhances the home cinema experience via incredible atmospheric sound.

To top things off, Full Array Dimming, found inLG’s 2018 SUPER UHD TVs (SK95 + SK85 series only) means deeper blacks which gets closer to replicating the picture quality achieved with LG OLED TVs. Full Array Dimming actively dims and brightens the backlight in these TVs to produce better contrast in videos on the screen.

Netflix-recommended LG UHD 4K TVs

Last, but certainly not least, LG is introducing six UK65 UHD/4K AI ThinQ™TVs in three sizes. Coming in larger sizes and packed with LG’s webOS Smart TV platform this year, all of these models are recommended by Netflix. Netflix acknowledges that these models provide users with easy access to the content they know and love, with 4K picture quality to match.

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