LG's 2019 TVs revealed: Alexa and Google Assistant, 8K OLED and more - CNET

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If you care about new TVs, CES is the biggest tech reveal of the year. And LG's OLEDs are the best TVs.

The show doesn't officially begin for another four days, but the Korean company just jumped the gun. On Thursday it unveiled the highlights of its 2019 TV lineup, including a slew of new OLED models, in a press release. No, it doesn't mention the rollable OLED rumored to appear later this year, but plenty of other new TV tech is on tap.

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Here's the most important bits:

  • Alexa will join Google Assistant. LG's sets already have Google's voice control system built-in, available by pressing the remote's mic button and speaking into the clicker. 2019 OLED and LCD models will also offer access to Amazon's Alexa voice assistant when you long-press the Amazon Prime Video button. Just like with Google, Alexa users "can manage smart home devices, ask questions and access tens of thousands of skills and even set up their ideal Alexa Routine." 
  • Two 8K models: an 88-inch OLED and a 75-inch LCD. Not to be outdone by Samsung's late 2018 launch of TVs with 8K resolution, this year LG will sell an 88-inch 8K OLED TV, model Z9, as well as a 75-inch 8K LCD TV, model SM99. LG talks up "higher processing capabilities" with "8K upscaling and improved noise reduction." 
  • New W9, E9 and C9 OLED TVs include A9 Gen 2 processor... with "AI." The main image quality boost LG made to its industry-leading OLED models last year was better processing -- although in our comparison the improvements were minor at best. For 2019 that processing ratchets up again with a new "intelligent processor and deep learning algorithm" that, among other claims, better adjusts the picture for room lighting. No differences between the OLED series were revealed, but if the past is any indication the W9 is a super thin "wallpaper" model, the E has improved audio quality and the C is the mainstream model. No entry-level "B9" was mentioned.
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LG's 2018 OLEDs: the C8 (left) and B8. The 2019 versions have improved processing.Sarah Tew/CNET

  • Say Cello to "NanoCell" LCDs. LG has changed the name of its higher-end 2019 LCD sets to NanoCell TV, but when I parse the language of the press release, I don't see any claims of improved picture compared to the 2018 models, which were called "Super UHD."
  • High-end 2019 LG TVs will have HDMI 2.1... mostly. LG says its 2019 OLED and select LCD models include "HDMI 2.1 ports" that allow high frame rate video (up to 120 frames per second) via HDMI, as well as support for enhanced audio return channel (eARC) and variable refresh rate (VRR). It does not, however, claim 48 gigabit per second bandwidth, the headline feature of HDMI 2.1. That really doesn't matter with non-8K TVs, but it could be an issue with the 8K models mentioned above. Check out HDMI 2.1: What you need to know for details.

I asked LG whether any of the new software features would make their way to existing 2018 or earlier TVs, and will update this article when I find out.

I expect to be able to report more details about LG's 2019 TVs from CES in Las Vegas next week, starting at LG's press event the morning of Jan. 7. Until then, if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me @dkatzmaier on Twitter. 

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