The tech world likes to start the year with a bang, and what better way to do it than show of a raft of new TVs with stunning designs, cutting-edge technology and undisclosed prices.
Each January LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony all descend on the US Consumer Technology Association’s annual tech show, CES, in Las Vegas, with gigantic TVs making mouths water and wallets weep.
With 4K and HDR now regular features of all but the smallest TVs in each brand’s lineup, the big four manufacturers have had to seek out new innovation to get pulses pounding. Here’s a look at some of the TVs revealed at CES launching later this year that are worth getting excited over.
With new TVs on the horizon, now is a great time to get a cheap set launched in 2018 – here are our top five TVs.
New OLED TVs from LG
It will come as no surprise that LG is doubling down on the OLED technology that has brought the company so much success in recent years. And in 2019, it will release its first 8K OLED. This gargantuan 88-inch TV will have four times the number of pixels as its 4K OLED range to create extremely vivid and detailed pictures.
The second generation of the Alpha 9 processor powers the TV and brings two features to help the picture be as crisp and accurate as possible – content enhancement and content optimisation. Essentially, the TV will analyse every frame of what you are watching, whether that’s SD, HD or 4K footage, and tweak it to make it look its absolute best.
With no 8K content available, this kind of technology is essential to make 8K TVs relevant. It’s not just visuals which are getting this upscale treatment either – the sound will receive attention, too. The processor can enhance certain frequency ranges on music tracks, or make voices more distinct when needed. Finally, the TV will react to ambient light and adjust the brightness of the screen accordingly.
Read our LG OLED reviews to see what we thought of the 2018 models.
It is not ignoring LCD TVs
OLED TVs may have become cheaper in recent years, but they are still expensive and the 8K model is likely to cost a small fortune. LCD will still make up a significant portion of LG’s 2019 range and it is now referring to them as NanoCell TVs. There is an 8K model, called the SM99 in the US, which uses the same second-generation Alpha 9 processor as the OLED.
CES is a show that typically showcases high-end TVs, so we rarely see models further down the range, but LG had a few lower end 4K LCD TVs, too. They use the older Alpha 7 processor but still feature some of the same tech as the OLEDs, including HDMI 2.1. This latest format enables High Frame Rate content which packs in more frames per second to make what you’re watching look as smooth as possible.
Signature OLED TV R
Roll, rise and revolution are the three Rs that LG is using to market its extraordinary unfurlable OLED that completely disappears into its base when not in use. The TV debuted at CES in 2018, but will go on sale this year. For anyone who isn’t happy with having a huge TV dominating their living room, regardless of how sleek the design, LG’s latest rollaway advancement will be a dream come true.
The TV can be in three states – full view is when the TV is fully unfurled ready to watch, line view is where only the top of the screen is showing, and zero view is when the screen is completely hidden. Even when the screen is completely rolled up like a poster, the TV still has some uses. The base is a soundbar, which you can connect to and play music through wirelessly. Just remember not to put anything on top of it – it’s not a table.
LG had an incredible 2018. See all our LG TV reviews to see which models we recommend.
Samsung focuses on 8K
Samsung decided the 85-inch 8K TV it released in 2018 just wasn’t big enough and launched a colossal 98-inch version at its CES press conference. Like the rest of the Q900R range, the new model will dynamically upscale content to close to 8K footage regardless of its native resolution. No word on price of course, but given that Samsung’s 65-inch 8K TV is £4,500 don’t expect it to be anywhere close to affordable.
Head to our Samsung TV reviews to see if it dominated 2018 as it has in previous years.
The Wall is still coming
Samsung does not make OLED TVs, it makes quantum dot panels instead, which – it insists – provide brighter, sharper pictures. That hasn’t stopped it developing a new type of display called Micro LED that has more in common with OLED displays than its quantum dots do.
Samsung’s QLED sets still require a backlight to create the picture; OLEDs do not because the millions of bulbs that make up these displays create their own light. Micro LED TVs do the same thing but because the bulbs are inorganic, Samsung says they won’t degrade in the same way that the organic LEDs in OLED displays can.
The Wall is the first TV that uses Micro LEDs and at CES, Samsung debuted a 75-inch model. It may have been placed beside a 219-inch set at CES, but oddly it’s the smaller one that’s most impressive. Ironically, it’s more difficult to make a small Micro LED panels because tiny chips needed to be created to get pixel density to acceptable levels otherwise the screen would look blurry.
Unlike OLED and LCD TVs, Micro LED sets are made up of several smaller panels connected together, which means there’s more scope for displays that don’t conform to the typical 16:9 aspect ratio. One day people may be able to buy a pack of panels to arrange however they wish.
Pricing and availability for Micro LED TVs is due to be announced later this year.
Panasonic’s new OLED TV is Hollywood friendly
Panasonic TVs have long been used by Hollywood filmmakers as reference panels and it’s calling its latest OLED the ‘World’s most cinematic TV’.
Its actual name is the GZ2000 and it’s a 4K set available in 55 and 65 inches. It’s the new HCX PRO processor that will help the TV deliver on its promise by providing exceptional detail and accuracy.
Accuracy is key for Panasonic and it worked with film-industry experts to ensure the GZ2000 is as precise as possible. The goal is to make a TV that can display footage that’s as close the the filmmaker’s vision as possible. Stefan Sonnenfeld, colourist on movies such as Wonder Woman, Star Wars and more, helped tune the colours, and the brightness and contrast have received a boost, too.
Speaking of contrast, the GZ2000 will be the first TV to support both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. These newer formats are direct rivals and both are improvements on the current industry standard, HDR10, by reacting to each scene and adjusting the contrast dynamically. In 2018, TV’s supported one or the other, but Panasonic’s high-end 2019 TVs have covered all bases. Whatever format ends up replacing HDR10 as the standard, Panasonic’s TVs will be compatible with it.
A world first for sound
Dolby Atmos is surround-sound technology that sends audio over your head for an even more immersive experience – and the GZ2000 will be the first TV to have upward firing speakers.
Other TVs, sound bars and home cinema systems profess to use Dolby Atmos technology, but unless some of the speakers in them point upwards then the effect is only simulated. Panasonic’s new flagship OLED has these speakers built-in.
Sony expands its Master Series
At the tail-end of 2018, Sony announced the AF9 OLED and ZF9 LCD TVs, which made up its new Master Series TVs and in 2019 they will be joined by the 4K AG9 OLED and 8K ZG9 LCD range.
The LCDs are enormous – 85-inch is the smallest option and 98-inch the biggest, while the OLED is available in more living room-friendly 77, 65 and 55-inches. Both TVs use the X1 Ultimate processor to create the sharpest image possible and, as with Panasonic’s Hollywood approved TVs, a true representation of the filmmaker’s vision.
Sony is sticking with acoustic surface for TV audio and the screen-vibrating sound technology is getting an upgrade to make it even more accurate. If someone is speaking then the sound will seem to come from the character’s mouth rather than a speaker at the base of the TV. This sort of effect will be particularly impressive on larger TVs.
Both the LCD and OLED Master Series TVs will have a Netflix calibrated mode, so some of the most popular pieces of content around, including Stranger Things and Bird Box, should look excellent. There’s also IMAX Enhanced, which helps larger displays deliver some of the impact you get from an IMAX cinema screen.
Read our review of the Sony KD55AF9BU to see if the Sony’s Master Series TVs are worthy of the title.