LG’s 2018 4K HDR TVs To Include “HFR”, “ThinQ” & New Google Addons
Stephan Jukic – January 3, 2018
CES 2018 is literally days away and some of the early news from the massive consumer electronics event is already leaking out to the wider world, starting here with LG 4K TV technology.
The company that has consistently delivered better OLED 4K HDR TVs year over year since their first unveiling in 2014 is now about to show off their next roster of OLED 4K HDR models for 2018 and we’re expecting some interesting new developments from what comes out. For LG’s OLED lineup, these new innovations are likely to include both new display performance improvements and increased smart performance in their TVs’ smart platforms.
From what we’re hearing at this point, digital voice assistance is going to be a major thing for LG in 2018 through the inclusion of Google Assistant for their next generation of WebOS smart TV platform. Augmenting this even further will be LG’s own native artificial intelligence technology, called “ThinQ”. Which of these ends up being more effective (or annoyingly obtuse to ambiguous human requests) is something we’ll have to wait to find out.
Other improvements promised by LG for its entire lineup of 2018 4K TVs include superior picture quality performance across the whole range of both LCD and OLED 4K HDR models. Some of these improvements might include OLED HDR models whose peak brightness finally breaches the 1000 nit barrier that only LCD 4K HDR TVs have managed to pass so far and high dynamic range wide color gamut coverage that finally smacks into the 100% level we’ve not yet seen in any 2017 HDR TVs from any brand.
While a classic criticism of OLED display technology since 2014 has been its low capacity for truly bright highlights within content in comparison to LCD TV screens, LG has consistently made its OLED TV displays brighter year over year since their first release. This has now reached a point where their current 2017 editions, including the OLED B7, C7, E7 and W7 flagship model actually manage levels of peak brightness which surpass those of most high quality LCD 4K HDR TVs being sold right now. Thus, 1000 nit+ brightness sounds very plausible to us for 2018 from LG OLED.
Moving back to smart functionality, LG is saying that ThinQ technology will work with Google Assistant in their 2018 models to control their functions, launch content apps and search for content within those apps intelligently and almost entirely through voice command technology. The ThinQ feature of the company’s 2018 TVs will also let its users interact with any other newer LG electronic devices they have in their homes. Given LG’s vastly diverse production of kitchen devices, cleaning machines and numerous other home consumer electronics, the ThinQ voice command could indeed be highly useful for more than just ordering up your next Netflix binge.
Specifically, LG is claiming that owners of its 2018 TVs with ThinQ and Google Assistant will be able to get their news, weather, and even shopping necessities with certain retailers done right through their TVs as needed via voice command features inside their TV remote. Two businesses which will allow ordering through ThinQ (at least in the U.S) include Walgreens and Walmart.
Moving back again to TV display performance, LG is also claiming new technology for HFR, or “High frame rate as it’s now being called. While one more acronym on top of UHD, HDR, SDR or WCG for 4K TVs might seem like overkill, HFR sounds like it might actually be useful. According to LG, the technology will be included in all of their 2018 OLED TVs and some of their premium Super UHD LCD 4K HDR models.
Specifically, the point of HFR is to improve motion handling in picture performance for 4K content in particular and most of all from broadcast sources. So this is basically looking like a new take on frame rate interpolation as its already exists in 4K TVs, which will double natural frame rates of content, but with smoother than ever handling of lower frame rate content from assorted sources so that it plays smoothly on the native 120Hz display panels of all premium LG 4K TVs with it.
Helping out this HFR development in the OLED and LCD televisions that have it will be an all-new processor from LG called the “Alpha 9”, which is designed to support both HFR and the usual gamuts of HDR at the same time. Other 2018 LG TVs without the Alpha 9 processing core will only be able to run either HDR or HFR one at a time instead of simultaneously. We’ve already seen excellent motion handling and interpolation in all the OLED TVs we’ve reviewed from LG, so we don’t doubt the company’s capability at delivering this spec in its higher-end 4K TVs. However, HFR does so far sound suspiciously like a gimmicky new name for what is only a slight refinement on existing motion handling systems in this year’s LG television models. We’ll have to see on this as well.
What we do know is that OTT/cable broadcast 4K HDR content is coming and some of it might in fact start appearing in 2018 in particular since the FCC has now approved the new ATSC 3.0 standard for allowing media companies to roll out 4K ultra HD broadcasts.
Whatever the case may be, we can’t wait to see just how well LG’s new ThinQ and Alpha 9-powered premium 4K HDR TVs perform under review testing conditions in the new year.