What’s going on in the world of high-end TVs? LG and Samsung’s announcements at CES 2020 have already provided a clear picture of what we can expect. The latest trend is wall-mounted TVs designed to be flush with the surface they’re mounted on (or close to it).
New CPUs offer machine learning-based features to improve picture quality based on the type of content viewed.
Plus, LG introduced a smaller OLED model size, Samsung is pitching a TV with virtually no bezels, and new 8K models are making their way to consumers’ homes.
Let’s start with LG’s announcements.
LG introduced more than a dozen new OLED TV models this year, including updated models in the 4K C and B series four sizes: 55 inches and 65 inches, and for the C series only, 77 and 48 inches.
The 48-inch size is a new one. LG’s reps have primarily focused their discussions of this smaller TV on gaming, setting it up at the show with a PC gaming rig on a desk. Like other C-series TVs, it has just 13ms input lag in some modes, it supports variable refresh rates via both Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync, it can refresh at up to 120Hz at 4K, and it supports the HDR Gaming Interest Group’s HGiG Mode. HGiG is a new standard meant to ensure optimal HDR settings when playing specific games, with game companies involved in defining the settings.
Unfortunately, this size is not available in the cheaper B-series lineup, which also forgoes some high-end features like the latest processor to bring the price down.
Once again, LG isn’t claiming to have introduced radically improved new panels (not that anyone was complaining much about the existing ones), but it is touting its built-in Alpha 9 Gen 3 AI processor and its ability to fine-tune the image in local zones based on the type of content being viewed, as well as the viewing environment. For example, the TVs with this processor (11 of the sets introduced this year) can guess the genre of the content and automatically set the appropriate display settings, or recognize individual objects within the scene and apply processing to them accordingly. New OLED models will support Dolby Vision IQ, which adjusts settings like brightness and color based on the ambient lighting in the room.
The new sets will also support Filmmaker Mode, a new feature coming to TVs from several manufacturers that optionally automatically disables features like frame smoothing for movies so viewers see films as creators intended. Additionally, they’ll have ATSC 3.0 tuners (dubbed NextGen TV in the industry) for receiving 4K HDR over-the-air broadcasts.
The company has also introduced 8K models for 2020 at 77 and 88 inches and 60Hz via HDMI 2.1. It has finally priced its spectacularly expensive roll-up OLED that was teased last year, and it has offered two different takes on TV designs that are meant to be wall-mounted and make minimal impact on the space in which they’re displayed. (More on all of those below.)
These most premium of LG’s 2020 TVs (8K sets, the gallery series, and the wallpaper series) can now respond to voice commands starting with “Hi, LG” in addition to previously introduced Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integration. Before, you had to press a button on the remote to talk to one of these virtual assistants. But now the TVs are capable of active listening—a boon for those who want convenience, a concern for those who prioritize privacy. The microphones can be disabled if users don’t want to use this feature, and the feature won’t be included in the more mass market C- and B- series models.
All the LG TVs run webOS, the company’s proprietary OS that offers apps for Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, and more. LG will also offer the new Apple TV app to 2018 and 2019 TV owners this month.
Not all the above-mentioned features are available on all models, so be sure to check the specs pages on LG’s website before ordering this year if you plan to splurge on one of these sets. In most cases, prices have not yet been set.