LG has unveiled its 2019 4K OLED TV line-up comprising C9, E9, and W9 with 4K resolution, and Z9 with 8K resolution. The TVs come with HDMI 2.1, improved gaming performance with VRR, an upgraded video processor, webOS updates, and ”AI”.
LG C9, E9, W9 4K OLED TVs
LG has announced that its OLED TV line-up for 2019 will comprise the C9, E9, and W9 ranges with 4K resolution as well as B9 that will come a little later in the year. The company also confirmed that its first 8K OLED model will be the Z9.
HDMI 2.1 is the headlining feature. Increased bandwidth now allows for up to 4K at 120 frames per second – also referred to as High Frame Rate (HFR) – inputs via HDMI. Last year’s models also supported HFR but only via streaming input.
- "And through the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 ports, all 2019 OLED TVs and selected NanoCell TVs with ThinQ AI will support high frame rate (HFR). The result is smoother and clearer motion at 120 frames per second for better rendering of fast-action content such as sports and action movies," the company said.
In addition, HDMI 2.1 brings a number of other useful features to LG’s 2019 OLED TVs, including HDMI eARC that will enable lossless audio output (and pass-through) via the TV’s HDMI eARC port.
Update: LG has confirmed to FlatpanelsHD that all HDMI ports in the 2019 OLED models are full 48 Gb/s HDMI 2.1 ports capable of supporting 4K120 with HDR inputs. Some features will be added through a firmware update after launch.
LG B9 will be equipped with a second-generation Alpha 7 processor while the other modes will sport a second-generation Alpha 9 processor. The TVs largely mimic last year’s designs but with some tweaks, the most prominent seen on C9 that has a more minimalistic – but still front-firing – speaker stand.
LG C9, E9, and W9 have 4K resolution and support for four HDR formats (HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and Advanced HDR). The Korean company has so far chosen to ignore arch-rival Samsung’s HDR10+ format, arguing that it can achieve the same effect on the TV via dynamic tone-mapping processing.
There are no major changes to the actual OLED panel, produced by LG Display, but LG explains that will introduce an improved anti-reflective filter this year.
HDMI VRR, lower input lag & improved motion
LG explains that the upgraded ”second-generation Alpha 9” video processor has improved algorithms for color and motion.
This includes an upgraded black frame insertion system called ’OLED Motion Pro’ that now operates at 100/120Hz (compared to 50/60Hz last year) and with shorter black frame cycle (25% vs. 50% last year). LG says the system eliminates flicker and maintains brightness, which were FlatpanelsHD’s two main concerns with the BFI system in the 2018 LG OLED models. Other improvements include a separate ”smooth gradation” picture setting that no longer reduces resolution.
Speaking of motion, LG confirms that the 2019 OLED models will support HDMI VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), which was first implemented in Samsung TVs and Xbox One S / X last year. It is an adaptive frame rate system that matches frame rate between console and TV in real-time for smoother gaming performance with lower lag. The TVs also support HDMI ALLM (Automatic Low Latency Mode) that automatically switches to the TV’s game mode whenever you load up a game on your Xbox One console. PlayStation 4 does not support VRR and ALLM at this time.
Outside of VRR, the TVs will deliver 13 ms input lag (in 1080p and 4K HDR), LG tells FlatpanelsHD. This is probably the lowest input lag on a TV today, depending on what competitors have achieved this year. Lastly, LG said that all calibration settings are now available in the Game picture mode and that a new Game setting can be engaged for all picture modes in the TVs.
LG is also highlighting an ‘AI Picture’ mode as part of its ‘ThinQ AI’ initiative. The AI Picture mode aims to enhance the picture based on the type of picture content. It is tied to an online database with over one million pieces of content as well as local recognition done on the actual TV, based on your viewing patterns. The database can be updated continuously, the company explained.
webOS 4.5, AI sound & voice control
LG will debut an updated version of webOS. Version 4.5 first and foremost includes ”AI Preview”, which pulls recommended content from within apps to a new row above the apps in the bottom menu. At launch, it will work with Netflix and some other apps. The look of the “cards” (app icons) has been refreshed and cards now take up less space.
The company will expand its voice assistant features, including Google Assistant, to understand voice context. From 2019, the voice features can be activated in English in over 140 countries. ‘AI Recommendation’ will offer up tips such as activating certain built-in features that it deems useful for the particular user. LG is also expanding its voice features to include Amazon Alexa in the 2019 models.
LG has not announced intentions to bring the new webOS features to previous TVs.
In much the same way as ‘AI Picture’, LG has implemented ‘AI Sound’ that automatically enhances sound based on the type of content playing on-screen. This system can also up-convert stereo sound to virtual 5.1 sound, the company said. It will be available on B9 and up. Speaking of sound, the W9 “wallpaper” model has the same Dolby Atmos soundbar as last year’s models. The other models also support Dolby Atmos.
LG’s new OLED TVs will go up against high-end TVs from the likes of Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and TCL. With OLED, LG has captured a significant share of the market for high-end TVs and the Korean company is hoping to stay ahead by implementing new features such as HDMI 2.1 and voice assistants. Competitors are also announcing new TVs at CES 2019 and FlatpanelsHD will get a chance to go hands-on with most of the new TVs very soon so stay tuned for more information.
LG’s 2019 OLED TV models (C9, E9 and W9) will launch from spring. B9 (4K) and Z9 (8K) will launch later this year. Pricing details were not announced.
LG 2019 4K OLED - specifications
LG C9 (55, 65, 77"), E9 (55, 65") & W9 (65, 77") 4K OLED panel Second-generation Alpha 9 video processor HDMI 2.1 (4K120) HDMI VRR, eARC and ALLM AI Picture and AI Sound 4K Cinema HDR Dolby Atmos WiSA certified ThinQ AI and webOS 4.5 Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa