It's that time of year where we see new TVs on electronics store shelves. LG is first out of the gates with its new screens, and they feature probably the biggest upgrade we've seen in quite a while. OLED and LED-backlit LCD TVs sit alongside each other in LG's 2016 line-up, Ultra HD 4K is more important than ever, and Dolby is on board for some fascinating new HDR tech that optimises every single frame in a movie.
LG is introducing high dynamic range — HDR — in the entirety of its Ultra HD 4K, Super UHD and OLED screen line-up; it should be available at a pretty enticing price point, but it'll also add value to even the best screens and make them even more versatile.
HDR is absolutely more important than 4K resolution, too, because the human eye is far more sensitive to colour or contrast on a TV screen than it is to outright image detail. Netflix is already streaming 4K HDR video, 4K HDR Blu-rays are on the way soon, and YouTube will enable HDR support later this year.
LG always talks about "contrast detail" rather than outright brightness for its screens, because while its OLED screens aren't especially bright at maximum luminance, they can disable their backlights entirely — and that means 20 stops of luminance for an OLED screen versus 12 stops for an LED-backlit LCD TV, giving a better overall picture at the cost of some peak brightness.
LG is on board with Dolby Vision in its premium OLED and Super UHD screens for 2016, and it's easiest to think of it like HDR Plus. Dolby works with movie studios like Warner Bros and others to capture blockbuster movies — movies like The Martian and Tomorrowland and The Revenant — in high dynamic range, and captures contrast and brightness detail for every single frame of a movie.
Through its work with movie studios, movie editors, and distributors like Netflix, Dolby is able to deliver that Dolby Vision dynamic metadata to compatible TVs, letting screens interpret that information and display the best image, hands down, of any TV displaying that content. It's like automatic room calibration, but for every single frame in an entire movie.
LG's screens are compatible with the generic Ultra HD Premium 'HDR-10' standard, too, but it's Dolby Vision that LG is banking on. As well as the new OLED TVs of 2016, LG's Super UHD UH955T, UH953T, UH950T, UH855T and UH850T will all include Dolby Vision straight out of the box.
LG has already sold 10,000 OLED TVs in Australia, and it wants to raise that number to 50,000 by the end of this year. A big part of that, it hopes, will be the top of the line Signature OLED TV — the first TV where the OLED panel has been sandwiched between two single sheets of glass, making it merely 2.5mm thick.
In 2016, LG will sell two new OLED TVs alongside its existing flat EF950T and curved EG960T; in the first half of this year, LG will introduce a 55-inch and 65-inch flat E6 OLED TV, and a 65-inch flat Signature OLED TV. Compatible with both HDR and Dolby Vision, the E6 will cost $7499 for a 55- and $10,499 for a 55-inch, while the flagship G6 will cost $11,999.
Super UHD (4K)
Alongside its existing 4K models, LG is introducing a new range of Super UHD TVs — it's the premium range of UH950T and UH850T screens, ranging from 86 inches down to 55 inches in size across the two. ColourPrime technology means that these TVs can display 20 per cent more colour than non-ColourPrime panels, and the fastest possible 200Hz screen refresh rate means motion should be smooth and clear.
There are six different Super UHD screens on the way for 2016 from LG — the $4299 55-inch UH950T, $4999 60-inch UH850T, $6499 65-inch UH950T, $10,999 75-inch UH855T, $11,999 75-inch UH953T and a behemoth $15,999 86-inch UH955T. Most will be out in June, although the UH850T is out in March, and the UH950T screens will be out by the end of April.
Ultra HD 4K And Full HD
Regular (non-Super) Ultra HD screens make up the majority of LG's 2016 TV line-up — there are a full dozen out between the end of March and June, ranging from $1549 for a 43-inch 43UH610T to $8999 for a 75-inch 75UH656T. All the TVs support HDR, too — that cut-off comes when you drop to the eight Full HD screens on offer.
Those Full HD screens are, by and large, entry-level models for the budget buyer. There's no HDR or Dolby Vision support, and the most expensive screen is a still-affordable $2199 55-inch 55LF600T; the vast majority are under $1500, and range from 43 to 49 inches in size. The cheapest you can buy is a bargain-basement $799 32-inch 32LH604T out in April.
The demand for curved TVs is small but consistent, and LG plans to meet that by releasing a few key models as curved, but the vast majority of screens it sells will be flat. Curved TVs still carry a premium, of course, and there are no entry-level curved screens — it's a styling thing more than any substantive difference in picture quality, but they still look good, and that's worth marking up.