LG brightens its OLEDs, teases brand new TV tech for CES
LG's OLEDs get brighter, while its LEDs get myriad upgrades.
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CES 2021 is a virtual affair this year, but the world's biggest tech companies are still taking bringing their best and brightest to the bear. For its part, LG today announced the next "evolution" in OLED TVs, currently the hottest display technology on the market.
During its press event for CES 2021's Media Day, LG unveiled a bevy of exciting home theater upgrades, not the least of which is "OLED evo," the current moniker for LG's upgraded and improved lineup of 2021 G1 OLED TVs. In addition, LG showed off its new NanoCell LED TV options, soundbars, speakers, and headphones.
Here's what we know about LG's home theater lineup in 2021.
OLED evo — the 2nd evolution of OLED TV
If you're at all interested in TV tech, there's a good chance you're aware of the OLED variant: self-emissive displays within the lineage of plasma that top reviewers' lists of the best TVs every year. OLED TVs eschew the backlight technology of LED/LCD TVs and instead assign one "organic" diode to each pixel, allowing each to darken and brighten independently of the others. This makes for simply incredible picture quality.
Until recently, LG was the only manufacturer and distributor of consumer-facing OLED TVs. The company has since been joined by Sony, Panasonic, and even Vizio, but LG continues to offer the widest selection of OLED TVs across TV series and screen sizes. LG debuted its first OLED TVs in 2013, and considered the first "evolution" to take place in 2015 when its OLED TVs were upgraded for High Dynamic Range capabilities.
The second "evolution," which LG is calling OLED evo in 2021, promises higher brightness (luminance), optimized "composition," and more precise OLED element wavelengths.
Unfortunately, we're not exactly sure how LG has achieved that yet, nor what it will ultimately mean for your viewing experience. The 2020 models generally peaked around 700 or 800 nits, which means they're about twice as bright as an entry-level TCL QLED TV, but about half as bright as one of Samsung's high-end QLED TVs.
Brightness is important for almost all TV functions: dynamic range, color saturation, viewing angle (to a degree), and combating ambient lighting in most rooms. In fact, it may be that increasing brightness is the only way LG's OLEDs (or any OLED TVs) will continue to maintain a competitive advantage over LED/LCD TVs in 2021, which—outfitted with mini-LEDs and quantum dot tech—are looking better than ever.
Whether the "evo" panels will introduce a remarkable increase in brightness remains to be seen (literally—we're not on the CES show floor at all this year), but it's an exciting prospect. Fortunately, LG has at least shed some light on its new OLED lineup:
- G1: The G1 LG OLED series replaces the 2020 GX series, and is one of the first confirmed models to use the new evo panel specs. It will be available in 55, 65, and 77 inches, and also utilize LG's new A9 Gen 4 processor (more on that below);
- C1: The new C1 replaces last year's CX (currently our top-rated television), and is available in a huge range of sizes: 48, 55, 65, 77, and 83 inches. These TVs will also use the A9 Gen 4 processor, but it's unclear if they'll have the evo panel upgrade.
- A1: Replacing its longstanding "B" models, the A1 are the new most affordable series in LG's 2021 OLED TV lineup. The A1 OLEDs will be available in 48, 55, 65, 77, and 83-inch variants, and will use the older A7 processor. It's doubtful these TVs will utilize the evo panel, but we're not 100% certain yet.
- ZX: This TV debuted in 2020, but will still be available in 2021. This is one of the first 8K OLED TVs available for purchase, and comes in huge 77 and 88-inch sizes. The 77-inch is $20,000, and we don't even want to know what the 88-inch model costs.
Naturally, we don't have pricing or availability info for the 2021 models just yet, but check back for updates in the coming weeks.
A new venture: QNED Mini-LED
LG debuted its new QNED TV lineup ahead of CES, but the gist is simple enough: LG is finally throwing its hat in the ring in terms of combining LED TVs utilizing Mini-LED backlights with quantum dot color, adding it to the nano-organic material that gives the company's "NanoCell" LED TV lineup its name.
If a combination of quantum dot and mini-LED sounds familiar, it's probably because that's more or less exactly what you're getting from Samsung's 2021 QLED lineup. Still, that doesn't make the availability of more extra-bright, extra-colorful LED TVs any less exciting.
Considering the proprietary nature of LG's nano organic (NanoCell) technology, the QNED line should be the first TVs to ever combine quantum dots and NanoCell, which may make for some very fancy-looking LED TVs. LG still doesn't think the QNED TVs will look as good as its OLED line, but hey, we'll be the judge of that.
LG has claimed that the QNED sets will be available in 4K and 8K resolution, mostly in large screen sizes. So far, we've heard two confirmed model names: QNED99 and QNED95.
Magic Remote, webOS, and more
Naturally, LG announced a lot more than new OLED and NanoCell LED TVs. Last week, LG announced improvements to its webOS smart platform and Magic Remote, the new A9 Gen 4 processor, and upgrades meant for gamers. Here's the skinny:
webOS 6.0: Announced ahead of CES, LG's webOS platform (available on 2021 OLED, NanoCell, and new QNED TVs) is now available in its sixth iteration. webOS 6.0 features upgrades to the home screen design, as well as LG's ThinQ AI—of course, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are integrated, so there's AI a-plenty.
A9 Gen 4: The fourth generation of LG's A9 processor finds itself primarily featured in the company's higher-end 8K and OLED TV models. Improvements include 5.1.2 audio upmixing for Dolby Atmos and DTS content, better auto-calibration abilities, and automatic volume leveling between apps and TV channels. Of course, the A9 is also utilized heavily during upscaling and picture processing, making it a signature part of the viewing experience with any pedigreed LG TV.
Gaming: Not to be outdone by Samsung's "Game Bar," LG has "Game Optimizer." This will automatically adapt the TV's settings depending on the game you're playing (read: picture processing adjustments, input lag identification, variable refresh rate management, most likely). Gamers will also be able to access Stadia through webOS 6.0 TVs.
Audio lineup: CES is and may always be a TV show, so details on LG's new audio products are scarce. So far, we know about two new "home decor" soundbars—the SP7 and SP2—as well as an adorable-yet-mighty mini soundbar called the QP5 that is equipped with Dolby Atmos support, including upfiring speakers, in the smallest profile we've encountered for the tech (besides Amazon's Echo Studio smart speaker, of course). LG also showcased new Bluetooth speakers and headphones during a pre-CES briefing. We hope to have more details soon as the show unfolds in earnest.
LG is continuing to iterate on its already very successful consumer tech across product categories, but the new evo panels are the star of its virtual presence right now. Check back with Reviewed for more coverage of consumer tech during and following the show—we can also almost guarantee we'll have a 2021 OLED TV to test in the next couple of months, so stay tuned.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.