LG 2021 TV Range Revealed - More Than Just OLED
Having whet our appetite for its 2021 TVs with teaser announcements about its new highlight OLED and 'QNED' LCD models at the virtual CES in January, LG has now unveiled details of its entire upcoming TV range. And it's looking set to be the brand's most diverse and expansive range ever.
Despite the arrival of new QNED MiniLED LCD ranges, LG's new OLED sets will still be the most interesting models for most AV enthusiasts. Especially as the brand is adding a new entry-level tier to its 2021 OLED offering.
LG OLED 2021
At the top of the tree will be the Z1 8K OLED models. As well as cramming more than 33 million pixels into their 77- and 88-inch screens, these 8K OLEDs will carry four HDMI 2.1 ports capable of handling 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz, and get an 8K-tweaked version of LG's latest Alpha 9 Generation 4 processing system.
As with last year's LG 8K OLEDs, the 77-inch model will be provided in a Gallery design suited to wall hanging (though optional desktop feet will be available) while the 88-inch will slot into the top edge of a floor stand.
Pricing hasn't been revealed on any of LG's new models yet, but experience suggests the Z1s will be seriously expensive. Very comfortably into five figures, even for the 77-inch version.
The Z1 pricing will likely force even the most ardent 8K fans to pivot their attention to LG's new 4K OLED models. These will appear over four ranges: The G1s, the C1s, the B1s and a brand new A1 designation.
Before looking at the surprising new level of choice these models will offer, it's worth noting that the lack of any W1 models shows that LG has decided to move away from the incredibly thin 'wallpaper' OLED designs that used to carry the W designation. Personally, I never grew tired of ogling incredibly good TVs that also happened to be credit card-thin and could be held on your wall by magnets. But I guess LG figures the new G1 Gallery design still offers a slim option ideal for wall hanging without the W models' installation/shipping issues and chunky external connections/ speaker box.
LG OLED evo
For 2021 the G1 models aren't just step up models because of their design. They carry completely different 'OLED evo' panels to the more mainstream C1 models, created to deliver significantly more brightness. LG isn't putting numbers on exactly how much extra brightness we're talking about, but rumours suggest that we'll be looking at 1000 nits or more. That would amount to around 25% more brightness from the G1 than you got with last year's GX series - and likely 25% more than you'll get from 2021's C1 series.
This is potentially a very significant step for LG OLED technology - especially as the extra brightness is supposedly achieved without any additional risk of screen burn. The G1 series will be available in 77, 65 and 55-inch screen sizes, and while prices have yet to be confirmed, LG has hinted that their new panel design will see them costing more than last year's GX models. If so, this will likely underline the position of the step-down C series as LG's most popular OLED range.
The C1 OLEDs will differ chiefly from 2020's CX range courtesy of their new Alpha 9 Gen 4 processor. This mostly differs from the Gen 3 version by introducing a host of new 'AI' features for assessing incoming images on a more granular, object-based level; taking in sharpness, detail, light levels in source images, content genres and brightness in your room to produce better 'automatic' picture results.
The C1s will be available in 77, 65, 55 and 48-inch screen sizes. LG has stated that due to the success of its debut 48-inch OLED TVs last year, it will be making more than a million 48-inch OLEDs for 2021.
As with last year's BX series, meanwhile, the new B1 series will step the processing down, using a so-called Alpha 7 Gen 4 processor. Full details of what the Alpha 7 processor will lack compared with the Alpha 9 version aren't available yet, but based on the difference between the Alpha 9/Alpha 7 versions of LG's 2020 Gen 3 processor, there will likely be less precision in such areas as local contrast, sharpness, noise reduction and source detection.
Note, too, that while all of LG's new OLED TVs will carry built-in Dolby Atmos audio decoding, the Alpha 7 processor will likely follow last year's generation in not providing the full range of advanced up-mixing and voice clarity features provided by Alpha 9 Gen 4 models.
The B1s will also only get two HDMI 2.1 ports capable of handling 4K at 120Hz and variable refresh rates, rather than the four available on the C1 upwards. The B1s will be available in 55, 65, and 77-inch sizes.
The brand new A1 OLED range looks very promising. While exact pricing information is yet to be revealed, the A1s are designed to make OLED technology cheaper than it's ever been before. They do this, chiefly, by trimming away some of the high-end performance features predominantly related to next-gen gaming. So the panel is a 50/60Hz one rather than 100/120Hz, and its HDMIs won't support variable refresh rates or 4K at 120Hz.
These specs don't stop the A1 models from being potentially great options for movie lovers, though. There's certainly nothing here to suggest that the A1s (which will be available in 48, 55, 65 and 77-inch sizes) will fall far short of LG's more expensive models when it comes to the vital OLED picture attractions of black level, local contrast and colour purity.
The B1 and A1 series likely won't arrive until much later in 2021 than LG's other new OLED sets, but I think we can expect them - especially the A1s - to make quite a stir come Black Friday.
Typically, if I'm honest, my interest in LG's TV range would plummet in moving from its OLED models to its LCD models. Chiefly because of the contrast issues created by LG's preference for the IPS type of LCD panel.
LG NanoCell and QNED
This started to change last year, though, with the introduction of some new power management trickery that significantly improved the contrast performance of LG's premium LCD models, making it easier to appreciate the rich, clean colours associated with LG's NanoCell LCD technology.
In 2021, this sudden uptick in LG's LCD TVs' potential is built on still further by the introduction of mini LED technology into so-called QNED models (though it seems the QNED name may have to be dropped for some territories). Mini LED screens shrink their LED lights dramatically, to fit more of them behind the screen. And the more individually controlled LEDs there are in your screen, the greater the local contrast performance you should be able to get from your LCD TV.
To give you an idea of what we're talking about here, LG's latest 86-inch 8K QNED flagship model apparently carries 30,000 LEDs divided into a massive 2,500 separately controlled dimming zones. By comparison, LG's regular full array with local dimming (FALD) panels usually offer less than 100 dimming zones. So while the new QNED TVs will still be using IPS technology, their potential for improving LG's LCD contrast performance is immense. In fact, LG claims its QNED sets support contrast ratios of a million to one.
The QNED technology will be available in two 8K ranges, the QNED99 and QNED95, and two 4K ranges, the QNED90 and QNED85.
While LG has suggested that the QNED models will be competitively priced versus its new OLED TVs, they will undoubtedly attract a premium versus standard LCD sets. So it's no great surprise to find LG offering a wide range of these more affordable regular models, too. There will be two non-QNED 8K ranges, the NANO99 and NANO95s, and no less than five different 4K ranges, the NANO90, NANO85, NANO80, NANO77 and NANO75s.
While all of the LCD models will feature LG's NanoCell technology for purer colour performance, the differences between the ranges will vary based on the number of dimming zones supported, design differences, and in the case of the non-QNED sets, whether the LEDs are positioned behind or around the edges of the screen. The QNED99, QNED95, NANO99 and NANO95 models will also be the only LCD models to get the Alpha 9 Gen 4 processor.
Provided LG can keep its messaging clear and get its pricing right with such a newly diverse range of TVs, 2021 looks set to be the year where the brand really does potentially have something to suit just about everybody.
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.
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