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How to buy the best TV

How to buy the best LG TV

By Martin Pratt

Article 3 of 7

Numerous OLED ranges from the C9 to the rollable Signature R TV - bolstered by LCD 4K and full HD sets - make up LG's 2019 line-up. We explore the new technology housed in these TVs so you know how each one differs.

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OLEDs are once again leading the charge for LG in 2019. The C9, E9 and W9 are successors to TVs we saw last year, while the Z9 and Signature R are entirely new in every sense of the word.

The Z9 is the first 8K OLED and the Signature R's screen rolls up into its sound bar base like a poster when it's not being watched. These TVs were announced at CES in January 2019 and both personify what the Las Vegas tech show is all about: extremely beautiful and advanced high-end devices with no hint of a pricetag.

These two OLEDs aren't representative of the wider market however. OLEDs aren't cheap, but the price has been dropping steadily for the last two years and we expect the C9, which is likely to be the most widely available OLED, will be cheaper at launch than its predecessor.

LG's CES conference wasn't entirely dominated by OLEDs. The majority of the brand's 2019 line-up will be LCD and this year LG is calling them 'Nano Cell' TVs. One of them is 8K, but the rest will be 4K and more affordable.

We still don't have full details on all LG's 2019 TVs, but we'll continue to update this page as we learn more about the new models in the lead up to their launch in the spring. For now you can take a look at the TVs released in 2018, which are still available and are cheaper than they've ever been, and see some of the cutting-edge tech that can be found in LG's 2018 and 2019 ranges. 

LG TV technology explained

There's no shortage of intriguing technology in LG's 2019 line-up, including an improved image processor, new HDR formats and object-based sound rendering.

Alpha 9 processor

LG's high-end 2019 TVs are powered by the second generation of the Alpha 9 processor. It builds on the original by adding two new features: content enhancement and content optimisation. Both are designed to make the pictures being displayed look as crisp, accurate and lifelike as possible regardless of the resolution.

TVs with this upgraded chip will analyse every frame of what you're watching and hone it to look as close to 4K or 8K as possible. What resolution the content is boosted to will depend on your TV. 8K sets rely on this sort of technology as there's no 8K content to watch, but if it works well then SD and HD footage will look better than ever on 4K TVs, too.

 

HDR10, Technicolor, Dolby Vision and HLG HDR formats

LG is covering most of the HDR bases with its 2019 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 - this is the data that makes up the quality of the picture. 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.

ThinQ

TVs get smarter every year and the ThinQ technology that debuted in 2018 is being built upon in the 2019 line-up. 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. 

Voice search will still feature and you'll be able to 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.

HFR (High Frame Rate)

This is a feature that comes part and parcel with HDMI 2.1 (yes, even your TV's inputs get updates) which is something many of LG's 2019 TVs support. HFR ups the amount of frames a TV can display per second to 120. This should make high-speed action look silky smooth with no hint of blur. 

Sport is the natural fit for this technology and the tech demos showing it off are often tennis and football matches where balls are travelling at high speed. It's unlikely to be used for TV or movies, which are displayed at around 24 frames per second. Upping this to 120 would look very unnatural.

LG's 2019 range overview

Information on LG's new TVs beyond the 8K OLEDs is sparse, but we'll add to this section as we learn more about the cheaper OLEDs and LCD models coming up.

LG Signature R

LG saves the Signature moniker for its most elite devices, whether it's a fridge, washing machine or TV, and the Signature R certainly earns the title. The vast OLED screen seems to achieve the impossible; it vanishes before your very eyes. At the push of a button the enormous screen disappears into what seems to be the TV base equivalent of Mary Poppins' bag, but in fact the screen is rolling up like a newspaper. 

It solves a key problem faced by many who would like a big TV but don't want it to dominate their living room when it's not being watched. With the screen rolled up, the base looks like a stylish side table and doubles as a sound bar you can connect to via Bluetooth. 

All the rolling and unrolling could take a toll on the screen, but according to LG the panel can coil 50,000 times, which means it would last 34 years if you unfurled it twice a day.

LG Z9 8K OLED

The rollable OLED isn't the only first for LG in 2019, the Z9 is its first 8K OLED. The gargantuan 88-inch display houses more than 33 million pixels and should be capable of displaying mind-blowing clarity. 

The second-generation Alpha 9 processor will help it overcome the lack of 8K content problem, and by lack of we mean none. Thankfully, the processor should upscale SD, HD and 4K video to something close to 8K quality.

Without it, you're paying a fortune for a TV with a headline feature you can't use. It would be like buying a house knowing that you couldn't access the top floor. 

LG's 2018 TVs overview

The table below shows the key differences between each of LG's ranges. Or you can jump straight to the LG TV series you want to know more about.

LG W8 Signature OLED 

 

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.

LG G8 OLED 

 

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.

LG OLED E8 

 

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.

LG OLED C8 

 

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 impressive technology and cutting-edge displays on C8 OLEDs should make them some of the best TVs around. Read our reviews of the LG OLED55C8PLA and LG OLED65C8PLA to see if they live up to their potential.

LG OLED B8 

 

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.

Read our in-depth review of the LG OLED55B8PLA to see if LG's cheapest OLED is a match for pricier models from Samsung, Sony and Panasonic.

LG SK9500 

 

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.

Can a high-end LCD TV match or beat an OLED? Read our LG 55SK9500PLA and LG 65SK9500PLA reviews to find out. 

LG SK8500 

 

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.

Since launch, the price of this range has dropped significantly, but are they are a great way to get high-end quality at a low price? Find out in our reviews of the LG 49SK8500PLA, 55SK8500PLA and 65SK8500PLA.

LG SK8100 

 

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.

LG UK7550 

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.

It may not be one of LG's Super UHD TVs, but there's still some impressive tech in 7550. Read our LG 55UK7550PLA review to see if it's a match for the pricier SUHD sets.

LG SK6500 

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.

Take a look at all our LG TV reviews to see which models from its cheaper ranges we recommend.

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