As an AV professional, buying a new TV for my own home is always a little more stressful than it should be. Since I deal with this stuff on a daily basis, I am hypersensitive when it comes to improvements, new features, and pricing. I am not the type to buy a new TV every model year, in fact just like everyone else I am looking for the best deal.
After passing on the 2016 6 series LG OLED, I decided that the 2017 C series was the one for me. They had finally fixed the dreadful CMS and it finally came out of black much better. These were 2 things that were terribly important to me as I am constantly on the quest for the “perfect” picture. I had a feeling that the chrome bezel would have bugged me, so in December of 2017 I decided on the 55C7.
As CES 2018 was approaching, the question in the back of my mind started to linger...did I screw up by not waiting for the 8 series? Did LG come up with something that is going to blow us all away? Well Now that CES 2018 is over, we know a little bit more about the 8 series OLED and what to expect in the upcoming model year.
LG showed off 2 models that received a lot of attention. One of them was something that some of us have been predicting for years...a TV that rolls up when not in use. This is something that I can see as a practical use. I’ve always been a sucker for automation, and I love the idea that I can hide my TV when it is not being used. I also love is that this isn’t simply a show off feature. Since the TV can roll up and down freely, you could have the screen exposed in such a way that all you see is a stock ticker, weather information, and much more (maybe the Bitcoin price for those who love to torture themselves). For the cinemaphiles out there, goodbye black bars! In a theater application things can get tricky and expensive when trying to hide black bars. In this case however, it is just a matter of unrolling the screen enough so that the display is in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. For 16x9 content all one needs to do is unroll the screen all the way. I’d love to see an option to mount the unassuming white enclosure upside down on the wall or ceiling so the screen unrolls down similar to a traditional 2 piece system, but that may be wishful thinking!
Crazy display #2 would be the 88” 8k OLED. Unfortunately this is a prototype piece for CES so don’t rush out to Best Buy expecting to see it on display. The folks who saw it had nothing but great things to say about it, and if we have learned anything about prototypes at CES this may be a prediction on what we will actually see rolling off the assembly line within 5 years. Only time will tell!
So what about the rest of the OLED line? What will we see at the big box stores and on the front page of our favorite A/V websites in 2018? Luckily LG has some cool plans!
First let’s get one thing out of the way because I know you are wondering. The 2018 8 series will not feature HDMI 2.1. We are all excited about it, but it will be at least 1 more year for the LG OLED line. Not to worry though...there are still some great improvements within the line.
Luckily LG decided to not confuse everyone with a change in the structure of the model line. The entry level model will continue to be labeled a “B”, followed by “C”, then “E” (picture on glass), and finally the ultra flat wallpaper thin model keeps the “W” badge. All models will support HDR, Dolby Vision, HLG, and a format that we were surprised with in the 7 series called “Technicolor”.
Want to order an Uber from your TV? Now that is possible as all models in the 2018 LG OLED line will have the Google Assistant built in. Check out vacation photos, set timers, and more, all with the power of your voice. Still need more control? Each model will work with the Google Home, Google Home Mini, and the Amazon Echo.
LG has introduced a new processor to handle the heavy lifting. The “A9” processor claims better color, sharpness, contrast, and faster Smart TV operation. Each model will have the A9 processor with the exception of the entry level B8 model. The B8 will continue to use the A7 processor which was found in the 2017 7 series OLED TVs. More on this in a moment.
All models in the 2018 OLED line will feature HFR, or High Frame Rate. At 120fps, this is will help with blurry, quick motion without the use of motion interpolation. It is important to mention that 120fps HFR only applies to internal streaming apps and OTA, not outside sources. As previously mentioned, the entry level B8 model will use the A7 processor. Because of this technical limitation the B8 will not be able to simultaneously display HDR and HFR. This should be enough for hardcore gamers to ignore the B8 and jump straight into the C8.
Each model in the 2018 OLED line will feature Black Frame Insertion (BFI). When movies, TV shows, and video games are made, the images we see are not actually moving. When we see enough still images in a short amount of time our brains interpret these images as if they are moving. If the display doesn’t flash from one still image to the next quickly enough, we see this as motion blur. BFI helps this by inserting a full black frame in between each usable frame in the image. Some viewers are sensitive to this and describe the display as “flickering” while some do not notice it at all. Because there are now twice as many frames as before there is a bit of loss in light output, but BFI will help with motion blur without the use of motion interpolation. LG gives BFI a new name called “Motion Pro” and will be available in SDR and HDR modes.
The 2017 LG OLED TV’s featured “Active HDR”. This was a great feature as it added active metadata to HDR images, making them look more like real life. Turning the feature on was a bit confusing as LG called it “Dynamic Contrast” and it only worked correctly when set to LOW. Luckily in the 2018 models they have implemented the same feature, but now they call it “Dynamic Tone Mapping”, which makes a little more sense. Because the TV inserts its own metadata, these displays will most likely not be compatible with HDR10+.
The 2017 7 series LG OLED calibrated quite well, and the 2018 8 series looks like it will be even better with the introduction of built in Look Up Tables (LUTs). LUTs are important to calibrators as they give us much more than the typical calibration controls. Until now, a LUT could only be implemented by a rather expensive box that sits last in the signal chain before the TV, and had to be controlled by software such as CalMAN. The OLED models that contain the new A9 processor will be capable of 33x33x33 LUTs while the B8 model with the A7 processor will be capable of 17x17x17 LUTs. The display will talk directly to CalMAN, which makes things MUCH easier for calibrators as this will save a significant amount of time when calibrating the 20pt grayscale and Color Management System (CMS).
Each model will come in the following sizes:
-B8 55”, 65”
-C8 55”, 65”, 77”
-E8 55”, 65”
-W8 65”, 77”
Like the 2017 OLED line, no models will support 3D. All models will be in stores by June 2018.
Gamers and videophiles will be able to take advantage of some new features in the 2018 LG OLED line, but unless there is a significant price reduction 2017 model owners can rest knowing that they made a good decision by buying a 7 series. If you own the 2016 6 series OLED, the 2018 8 series will be a significant upgrade. Now it’s time to sit back and see what happens with pricing, which is usually the ultimate factor.
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