How to buy the best TV
How to buy the best LG TV
By Martin Pratt
Article 3 of 7
Five OLED ranges, from the OLED55B8 to the W8 bolstered by LCD 4K and full HD sets make up LG's 2018 line up. We explore the new technology housed in these TVs so you know how each one differs.
Sony and Panasonic are slowly upping their support for OLED TVs by releasing two new ranges in 2018, but LG is still the biggest proponent of organic-LED technology with five.
LG's OLED TVs range from the relatively low-cost, at least by OLED standards, B8 all the way to the ultra-thin, ultra-expensive Signature W8 that glides onto the wall like wallpaper.
The cost of LG's OLEDs has dropped in 2018. The OLED55C8 is available for around £500 less than last year's OLED55C7 for example. That doesn't mean they aren't expensive - the launch price of the 55-inch C8 is £2,999. LG's mid-range UHD (ultra-high definition) TVs will have LCD displays and be more affordable as a result. It also has a premium range of LCD models known as Super UHD.
There's new technology to go alongside these TVs, including the Alpha 9 image processor, Dolby Atmos sound processing and ThinQ, which is set to make LG's TVs smarter. In this guide we'll explain what this technology does and which of LG's TVs you'll find it in, so you know how each new range differs.
LG TV technology explained
There's no shortage of intriguing new technology in LG's 2018 line up, including an improved image processor, new HDR formats and object based sound rendering.
Alpha 9 processor
The latest iteration of the Alpha processor is designed with artificial intelligence (AI) in mind. It replaces the Alpha 7 Processor in all of the OLED sets apart from the entry-level B8. As well as powering ThinQ (more on this below) and the range of voice requests the TVs can now handle, the Alpha 9 processor should also improve image quality in a number of ways.
LG told us the Alpha 9 would reduce noise on screen, which is when flat areas of colour appear to be shifting not unlike static on an old TV. It will do a better job of sharpening the image, too, making objects appear crisper and more defined on screen. TVs with this processor built-in will also be able to display more colours, seven times more according to LG.
LG's LCD TVs are sticking with the Alpha 7 processor, but LG has added nano cell technology to its Super UHD sets. The goal of the feature is to improve the viewing angle of the TV, so you can see more accurate colours whether you're sat right in front of the screen or at a 60-degree angle to it.
New HDR formats: HDR10, Technicolor, Dolby Vision and HLG
LG is covering most of the HDR bases with its 2018 TVs. The OLED models come with four formats built-in, so there won't be many devices or HDR content that they won't be compatible with.
HDR10 is the standard format at the moment, although Samsung and Panasonic's support for HDR10+ may change that.
HLG is the type of HDR that broadcasters will use when they launch HDR channels. It's not so useful now, but given that most of us keep the same TV for years it's good to know that it will work with the new channels.
Unlike HDR10, Dolby Vision costs the manufacturer a license fee to use. Cost aside, the key difference between it and HDR10 is metadata. HDR10 gets one dump of information for every film and TV show compatible with HDR, this means the HDR version of what you're watching will be the same regardless of the TV it's being displayed on. Dolby Vision, on the other hand, can react to what's on screen by accounting for the brightness, colour and contrast of different TVs.
Similarly to HLG, Technicolor will help to simplify broadcasting HDR. It will also be able to upscale content to HDR quality.
Dolby Atmos and DTS audio
The sound processing tech in LG's OLEDs should help create a more immersive sound experience. It does this by creating object-based sound effects, which should make it seem as though the TV audio is all around you rather than coming directly from the TV. In theory, this means that the sound of a plane taking off on screen would seem to come from above you or the sound of talking crowd would surround you if the action is taking place in a stadium for example.
TVs are getting smarter in 2018 and LG's are no different. ThinQ enabled TVs will be able to control other LG appliances, so your TV would alert you when your washing's done, or it could display the contents of your fridge.
Some of LG's 2018 TVs support voice control through the remote, letting you search for specific channels and apps, or look up films of a certain genre or starring a specific actor. If you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home you can use those to control your TV rather than the remote.
The W8 looks almost identical to last year's W7. The TV, which is designed to be wall mounted, is a paper-thin OLED panel attached to a separate sound bar - LG calls the design 'picture-on-wall'.
It's good looking and it should be no slouch when it comes to picture and sound quality. It uses the Alpha 9 processor, supports the four HDR different formats listed above and the separate sound bar works with DTS and Dolby Atmos to create a virtual surround sound effect where sound can seem to come from anywhere in the room.
It also supports high frame rate, or HFR, which should make motion more stable and fluid, something OLED TVs are generally good at anyway.
This TV has voice control built-in and uses ThinQ to communicate with other LG appliances.
It will be available in 65 or 77 inches.
The G8 has a similar design to the W8, but the sound bar is attached to the base rather than being separate. Unlike the W8's sound bar, which has six speakers built-in, the G8's only has four, but it does still benefit from Dolby Atmos and DTS object-based sound effects.
Being a high-end OLED means it uses the Alpha 9 processor and supports HLG, HDR10, Dolby Vision and Technicolor HDR formats.
As with the W8 you'll be able to control the G8 with your voice and use ThinQ to communicate with other LG appliances.
The G8 is a single model rather than a range since it's only available in 65 inches.
The E8 matches the G8 and W8 when it comes to technology. All four HDR formats are supported and it uses the Alpha 9 processor. The main difference is in the design. It has a more conventional stand rather than a sound bar base.
That doesn't mean it misses out on the Dolby Atmos and DTS audio though. Both features are there, but built-in speakers will likely mean this TV doesn't sound as good as the G8 or W8.
The E8 will be available in 55 or 65 inches.
The C8 is the cheapest OLED to still use the Alpha 9 chip, the entry-level B8 OLED uses the Alpha 7 instead. It's available in 55, 65 or 77 inches.
Design and B8 aside, there's very little to pick between LG's OLED TVs. The HDR formats are the same as is the image processor. Dolby Atmos is present in all of them, even those without sound bars, and they all support ThinQ AI technology for controlling other LG appliances and voice commands.
This TV is unlikely to match the G8 and W8 with their attached sound bars, but the C8 is also be significantly cheaper than both of those TVs.
The C8 will be available in 77, 65 and 55 inches.
LG's entry level OLED TV doesn't have the Alpha 9 processor, it has to settle for the Alpha 7 instead. This is likely to impact the vibrancy and accuracy of the colours as well as the overall sharpness.
The B8 should at least be more affordable as a result. OLED TVs are typically very expensive, particularly at launch, but the B8 could be priced to compete with high-end LCD TVs from other brands, assuming it's picture and sound quality are good enough.
Sound could be the B8's strong-suit as it uses Dolby Atmos and DTS to create a surround sound effect.
The B8 will be available in 55 or 65 inches.
This is LG's top-end LCD set in its Super UHD range, which means it uses a backlight illuminating a LCD panel to create the images on screen. OLED panels can create their own light meaning they are thinner and offer greater contrast.
LCD panels may be inferior to OLED in terms of contrast, but that doesn't mean the SK9500 will be a bad TV. It supports HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and Technicolour, just like the OLED sets, and it uses Dolby Atmos and DTS tech to create object-based sound, too.
What it does miss out on is the new Alpha 9 Processor. All the Super UHD TVs get the Alpha 7 Processor instead. We expect this to impact colour accuracy and sharpness, but we won't know how much until we test LG's new TVs.
Still in the Super UHD range, but under the SK9500, sits the SK8500. On paper, there isn't a great deal to pick between these two high-end LCD TVs. Both support the same four HDR formats as the OLEDs and use Dolby DTS tech to simulate sound coming from specific parts of the room rather than directly from the TV.
The Alpha 7 Processor in this TV won't be quite as accomplished at creating balanced colour as the Alpha 9 Processor, but the Nano Cell technology on the LCD display may mitigate this somewhat. Nano Cell was designed to create consistent, natural colours even if you're watching the TV at an angle. The OLED TVs should still have the edge when it comes to sharpness however.
If you like the sound of LG's ThinQ smart features then you'll be pleased to know that it isn't unique to the OLEDs, you'll find it on all the 4K models.
The SK8500 is available in 65, 55 and 49 inches.
In terms of specs, the SK8100 looks to be almost the same as the SK8500. The curved metal stand is smaller on this model, meaning it will be easier to fit on a media unit. You can also buy a mammoth 75-inch version of the SK8100 making it the biggest Super UHD TV available this year.
If your living room can't quite accommodate such an enormous TV then you can go for the 49, 55 or 65-inch version instead.
If the model number starts with an eight or higher then you're looking at an LG Super UHD TV. Anything lower means you're eyeing up an LG Ultra UHD TV instead. Both sound equally impressive, but there are big differences between the two.
The SK7550 only supports two of the four HDR formats, HDR10 and HLG, so you won't get the full benefit of HDR if the content you're viewing was mastered specifically for Technicolor or Dolby Vision, though admittedly that is rare.
Sound quality may take a knock, since the Ultra HD TVs don't have Dolby Atmos and DTS tech on board. We still don't know how well this object-based sound mastering will work or whether it will improve sound quality, so not having it doesn't necessarily mean the audio will suffer.
In terms of picture quality, the SK7550 has more in common with the Super UHD sets. It still uses the Alpha 7 Processor and has Nano Cell picture tech built into the display.
The SK7550 will be available in 49, 55 and 65 inches.
LG's other Ultra UHD TV is the SK6500 and it looks to be identical to the SK7550 in terms of technology. The design is very different though. Rather than a centrally mounted curved base, it has two metal feet positioned at each end of the TV.
The alternate base design may have been to support bigger screens as a goliath 86-inch version of the SK6500 is available. It's the biggest TV in LG's 2018 lineup by 11 inches.
It's available in more modest 43, 50, 55, 65 and 75-inch sizes, too.