LG is expanding its OLED line-up with its first 8K OLED and the unique rollable R9. The company is also introducing HDMI 2.1 in its high-end TVs. Below OLED, LG has a full range of LCD TVs, including "NanoCell". The company is also partnering with Apple. FlatpanelsHD brings you an overview of LG's 2019 TV line-up.
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LG 2019 TV line-up
These years, LG is almost synonymous with OLED. The LG Display subsidiary is the only company capable of mass producing OLED panels in TV formats, and LG Electronics - the consumer electronics division - benefits greatly as the most unique display panels are reserved for LG TVs before being made available to other TV makers.
After having launched the first HD OLED TV, the first 4K OLED TV, and more recently the special "wallpaper" TV, the South Korean company will this year launch the first 8K OLED TV (Z9).
Later this year, the company will also launch the world's first rollable OLED TV (R9) that rolls up when you are not using the display. The box doubles as a music system. The industry has been dreaming up such display concepts for years so in a sense 2019 can be seen as a milestone before we step into the new decade that will characterized by TVs and displays that are extremely thin and flexible - also in our handheld devices.
The bad news is that R9 will be made available only in select few regions - Korea and USA - due to low production capacity, according to LG. It is also expected to be prohibitively expensive.
The mainstream OLED TV line-up comprises the B9, C9, E9 and W9 ranges
The mainstream OLED TV line-up comprises the B9, C9, E9 and W9 (wallpaper) ranges. B9 is equipped with a so-called second-generation 'Alpha 7' video processor while the other new models have a second-generation 'Alpha 9'. There are some technical differences here but the main differences between the various models are found in design and speakers. B9 and C9 come with a slim design without distinctive design elements, whereas E9 has a glass design and W9 has the special wallpaper design with a separate electronics box that doubles as a soundbar with Dolby Atmos. This makes the actual W9 screen extremely thin.
LG's 2019 OLED TVs will be available 55, 65, 77, and 88 inches (only 8K) and even though the 77-inch panel has dropped markedly in price, it is still much more expensive than 55 and 65 inch models. The company has said that it is planning to increase its focus on large-format TVs as market data reveals that consumers have a big appetitive for 70"+ TVs. In this segment, LCD TVs rule as they are much more affordable.
As for the new LCD TV line-up, the upper range consists of "NanoCell" (SM ranges) models. It is a marketing name that refers to a filter of small nano particles that are meant to improve color reproduction in the LCD panel. Some of the top LCD models feature a full array local dimming (FALD) system meant to improve black levels and contrast. This year, LG is also launching its first 8K LCD TV as part of the "NanoCell" range. In the mid-range segment, there are new UM series of 4K TVs that will be available in sizes up to 86 inches. In these UM series you lose most of the advanced features.
The big news this year is the addition of HDMI 2.1. LG is leading the transition to the new HDMI standard that enables 4K120 (4K resolution video at 120 frames per second) - also known as High Frame Rate (HFR). HFR can make video much smoother and more detailed but of course you will need a compatible player, too. Some of the first compatible devices may turn out to be next-gen game consoles such as 'PlayStation 5' and 'Xbox Two' that are rumored to launch in the second half of 2020.
The South Korean company has furthermore embraced a number of optional HDMI 2.1 features, namely HDMI eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate). While these acronyms may sound technical, it is worth investing a little time to learn more about them if you are planning to keep your TV for more than a couple of years.
HDMI eARC can output - and pass-through - audio in lossless quality from TV to a soundbar or receiver, meaning that you no longer have to loop an UHD Blu-ray player through the receiver first (and worry about which HDR formats the receiver supports). ALLM simply means that the TV can auto-detect a game signal from a game console and automatically switch into game mode. VRR is variable refresh rate, which ensures that games are rendered smoothly and without "tearing" and other artefacts. It can also bring down lag. In other words a better game experience, especially if future game consoles support 4K120 (as they are unlikely to be able to render 4K120 consistently). The game console or gaming PC must also support VRR.
Some Sony TVs already come equipped with eARC and several manufacturers will offer ALLM this year but LG is alone in offering 4K TVs with HDMI 2.1 ports and VRR. These features are found in the new OLED models (VRR is excluded in R9 and W9) and select LCD models. Check our the model overview further down and click on next to 'HDMI standard' for more information.
LG continues to bet on its homegrown TV platform, webOS, that is reserved for its own TVs. It is also available in Bang & Olufsen TVs but only because these are essentially LG TVs mounted on a stand. From webOS you have access to popular streaming services such as Amazon, HBO, Netflix, and YouTube. webOS has reached version 4.5, which is available exclusively in the 2019 TVs. Previous years' models will not be updated to the latest webOS version.
Another big development this year is LG's partnership with Apple. Sometime in mid-2019, select LG 2019 TVs will gain support for AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, and later this year Apple's 'TV' app. AirPlay 2 allows you to push video, music and photos from an iPhone, iPad or Mac wirelessly to the TV, while HomeKit is Apple's platform for the connected home. HomeKit will also make it possible to control certain aspects of the TV from an iPhone via Siri but the full capabilities remain unclear. Apple's 'TV' app brings together content form multiple streaming services in a unified interface. It will also be the home for Apple's upcoming streaming service Apple TV+.
Later this year, select 2019 LG TVs will gain support for AirPlay 2, HomeKit, and Apple's 'TV' app
New features in webOS include 'AI Preview', which is an extra row in the bottom menu that allows you to play content from services such as Netflix without having to open the app. At launch, only a few services will be supported. The webOS menu also has a refreshed look with smaller icons. The TVs come with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in but only a handful of languages are supported so in many regions these voice control features will be limited or not supported at all. This can be enabled via a later update.
You control the TV with the 'Magic Remote' by waving the remote around in free air to control a cursor on-screen. The most exclusive 'Signature' models (R9, Z9 and W9) come bundled with a new premium remote control.
Another new feature is WiSA, which is the wireless audio platform that Bang & Olufsen helped develop. With WiSA, you can connect compatible speakers wirelessly to the TV in up to 5.1 surround. Companies such as B&O, Klipsch and Harman Kardon are selling WiSA-compatible speakers.
LG's close relationship with Dolby continues. LG 2019 OLED and "NanoCell" LCD TVs come with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos baked in. Not all of these TVs will have the display hardware to take advantage of Dolby Vision (or HDR in any form) or the speaker hardware required for a great Dolby Atmos experience but LG points out that Atmos can be passed to a soundbar or receiver via the HDMI eARC port.
The new TVs also feature built-in tuners for cable, satellite, and antenna TV but only a few models are equipped with dual tuners for recording. Lastly, it is worth mentioning that the TVs have built-in WiFi and Bluetooth.
Below we have noted suggested retail prices for those TV models that have yet to launch. Once the TVs become available, the model name and size will become an active and clickable link to price comparison or retailers.
You can tell LG 2019 OLED TVs apart from previous years' models by the number 9 in the model name (i.e. C9): 9 = 2019, 8 = 2018, 7 = 2017, 6 = 2016. You can tell the LCD models apart by the designation 'SM' or 'UM' in the model name: SM / UM = 2019, SK / UK = 2018, SJ / UJ = 2017, UH = 2016, UF = 2015, UB = 2014.
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