LG's new TVs feature a mysterious new technology called "Nano Cell"
The OLED king still wants to compete in LCDs
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In what has become a near-tradition of revealing most of its products, bit by bit, before the press conference even starts, LG just unveiled its 2017 line-up of Super UHD TVs. While LG is celebrated for its high-performing OLED TVs, the company still maintains a robust line of LCD TVs. This latest batch features Nano Cell technology, which appears to be a variation on the quantum dots used by Samsung and other TV makers.
The new TVs—model names SJ9500, SJ8500 and SJ8000—come equipped with all the bells and whistles one should expect from a high-end TV: 4K resolution, HDR (in both Dolby Vision and HDR10 formats), and LG's webOS 3.5 smart platform. And of course they're ridiculously thin. The 55-inch SJ9500 is a mere 6.9mm at its thinnest point—the same thickness as an iPhone 6 (in case you're curious).
"Nano Cell" will join the ever-growing lexicon of buzzwords TV makers employ in an attempt to differentiate their line-ups from the pack. In a fiercely competitive landscape where margins are thin and innovation is costly, the merest iterative improvement in technology can yield reams of press releases. Expect an avalanche over the next few days.
What is LG Nano Cell?
So what is Nano Cell? We're only just learning, as LG only filed for the trademark in November 2016. We expect that we'll be learning a great deal more over the next few days as LG offers more details and in-person demonstrations at the CES show.
According to LG, they "offer a technological advantage by employing uniformly-sized particles approximately one nanometer in diameter to create more subtle, accurate colors."
That differs from the quantum dots used in many of Samsung's SUHD TVs, which employ differently sized nano-particles to create red and green light.
Tim Alessi, head of product marketing at LG Electronics USA, also stated the Nano Cells are applied closer to the top-most layer of the TV panel. This has the effect of decreasing reflectivity and providing more accurate color retention when viewed from off-angle.
Further underlining the message of color, color, color, LG has partnered with Technicolor to refine the color reproduction, and plans to offer a "Technicolor Expert Mode" on the TVs later in the year.
The other notable feature on LG's 2017 line-up is Active HDR. The new TVs will support the two major HDR formats—HDR10 and Dolby Vision—as well as HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma). They're also ready to support Advanced HDR, yet another HDR implementation in development by Technicolor.
Our own TV expert Lee Neikirk has clarified that there is no HDR format war, but it's a welcome piece of assurance that you're covered either way should you buy one of these TVs.
As very little native HDR content is currently available, LG also includes a feature called HDR Effect that up-converts non-HDR content to something that, presumably, resembles HDR.
How these new TVs will stack up against LG's own OLED TVs remains to be seen.