LG announces its most diverse OLED TV range yet
For generations, LG’s OLED TVs have stood apart from all other TV ranges by delivering the same picture quality across multiple range tiers.
For instance, last year’s LG CX and GX OLED models used exactly the same OLED panels and video processing, while the year before the C9 and W9 also delivered the same picture quality as each other. Differences were limited to design and audio variations.
However, for its 2021 OLED range, LG is switching things up. As just revealed, all of LG’s upcoming new OLED series is going to offer different levels of picture quality, giving AV fans more compelling reasons to consider thinking beyond the C series they’ve tended to mainly gravitate towards in recent years.
The 2021 LG OLED range, from top to bottom, looks like this: Z1, G1, C1, B1, and A1. The Z1 models will carry native 8K resolutions. The G1 models will feature a new brighter OLED panel design. The C1s will use the latest refinement of LG’s ‘regular’ OLED screen technology, driven by a new Alpha 9 Gen4 processor. The B1 series will use a similar panel to that of the C1, but driven by a less powerful processor (probably called Alpha 7 Gen4). The A1 will be targeted at film fans who don’t need the advanced gaming features carried by the other models.
As well as boasting far more pixels than the step-down G1 series, LG’s new 77-inch and 88-inch Z1 8K models will also benefit from some new face and body detection processing, to help them deliver more refined, three-dimensional, natural pictures.
LG isn’t providing much detail on the brightness boosting technology in the G1 series, other than confirming that it’s hardware-based (the panel uses a ‘new luminous element’, apparently). We do know, though, that the G1 models will not only continue the ultra-slim Gallery design concept introduced with 2020’s GX series, but will also be available in 2021 with an optional floor-stand mount based on an attractive metallic pole/tripod design.
The C1 series is the range that LG has released the most details on so far. For starters, we know all of its sizes (unless LG adds a 42-inch model later in the year): 48, 55, 65, 77 and 83 inches. And yes, that 83-inch screen is a whole new size category for OLED, and the biggest 4K OLED TV LG has released.
We also have some detail on the new Alpha 9 Gen4 chipset the C1 series is packing. This will introduce several improvements over 2020’s Alpha 9 generation, mostly based around LG’s AI features where a neural network studies vast quantities of images to develop a ‘shorthand’ library of knowledge TVs can use to deliver more effective image processing in real-time.
For instance, LG is claiming that sub 4K content will be more effectively upscaled on its 4K OLED TVs, and sub 8K content will be more effectively upscaled on its 8K OLED TVs.
The new processor also introduces enhanced object-based image detection. The processing picks out specific elements in an image and manipulates them individually to get the best picture results, rather than less precisely applying a single processing approach to the whole image.
The Alpha 9 Gen4 system introduces a new scene recognition system that hasn’t been available on previous LG processors, too. Now, as well as recognising what genre your content is, like last year’s LG OLEDs did, the new TVs uses their extra AI knowledge to also identify the type of scene - city streets, night time, outdoors in nature and so on - you’re watching, so it can adjust the image processing accordingly.
The new processor works on the C1’s audio as well. First, it introduces a new real-time volume levelling system that works across every input - even streaming apps. Second, it can convert audio sources with limited channels into 5.1.2 mixes, complete with virtual stereo height channels.
Details on the B1 and A1 series are sparse. The B1 series was only mentioned in the footnotes to the press release on the other series, where it was noted that B1 models will not benefit from the same Alpha 9 Gen4 processor that the other models get, and won’t join its higher-end siblings in getting four HDMI 2.1 ports.
The A series was only mentioned in LG’s press conference, and the only information about it we can add to what we mentioned earlier is that it will feature a 60Hz rather than a 120Hz panel.
The last significant areas of improvement LG has introduced across its 2021 range are focused on its renowned webOS smart system and increasingly important gaming features. We’ve covered the new webOS developments in this separate story.
On the gaming side, the key developments are a new information panel that tells gamers at a glance the status of all the TV’s gaming relevant picture and sound settings; a selection of new Game genre presets designed to optimise the image for RPGs, first person shooters and so on; support for the Google Stadia app; and a claimed input lag time (the time it takes the TV to render images) of just 1ms. If proven to be accurate, this input lag measurement will be the lowest such figure I’ve ever seen on a TV.
Pricing on LG’s new OLED range hasn’t been released yet, but the first models - likely the C1 series - look likely to go on sale before mid-year. Look out for a review as soon as we can get our hands on one.
I’ve spent the past 25 years writing about the world of home entertainment technology. In that time I’m fairly confident that I’ve reviewed more TVs and projectors than any other individual on the planet, as well as experiencing first-hand the rise and fall of all manner of great and not so great home entertainment technologies.