LG QNED First Look: A Fancy But Expensive Way To Sell You On OLED

LG QNED First Look: A Fancy But Expensive Way To Sell You On OLED
Editor's Note: One of the new LG Nanocell TVs. No lifestyle images were provided for the QNED range. Image: LG

After seeing them first-hand, LG’s new QNED 4K TVs feel engineered to excite AV nerds and destined to drive demand for the company’s improved OLED offering.

What is the new LG QNED Range?

The new QNED range promises to slide in nicely between the ‘better’ experience of the company’s NanoCell line and the ‘best’ entertainment experience promised by its OLED offering. It doesn’t reinvent how LCD-LED tech works, but it would be fair to say it elevates and enhances it.

Pushing the rest of the spec sheet out of sight for the moment, the pitch here is fairly straightforward. Take one of LG’s new NanoCell TVs, sprinkle in some Quantum Dots and pull things together with a Mini LED backlight.

LG has traditionally positioned NanoCell as a competitor to the Quantum Dots found in Samsung’s QLED TVs. This means that the new QNED range isn’t just LG’s first foray into Mini LED. It’s also the first time it has enabled consumers to benefit  from both display technologies, rather than making them choose between them.

The short version? You get richer and more accurate colours, deeper blacks and sharper contrast than you would with LG’s NanoCell TVs. Seeing the two display technologies side-by-side, the difference was immediately noticeable. A night-time sequence from Blade Runner 2049 came across as more detailed, colourful and lifelike.

Okay but what is it like in practice?

QNED in action at the local Sydney launch. It was quite dark so take the quality with a grain of salt. Image: Fergus Halliday

Mini LED works similarly to standard LED but does so at a much smaller scale. This means you can fit more of them into the same surface area, which translates into more dimming zones. As a result, you get a more nuanced blacks and higher contrast ratio.

For movies where darkness is used a lot, the benefits of LG’s latest cocktail of display tech feel particularly pronounced. The image quality had a real pop to it, showing off the nuanced blacks and micro contrast that QNED line is capable of producing.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely something fun about watching LG take a break from shilling its rollable display tech and cutting-edge cleaning robots to take a shot at Samsung’s new Neo QLED TVs.

However, for all the splashy tech involved, it says something that LG still insists on OLED being the superior technology.

The blacks here are sheerer with QNED than they are with NanoCell, but they aren’t quite absolute. In addition, the nature of the way that the Mini LED backlight is implemented means that you get a weird blurring effect if you aren’t really looking at the screen from centre-on. This ghosting effect sometimes makes it feel like the display panel and the Mini LED backlight aren’t quite aligned.

On a technical level, LG’s QNED TVs are an impressive feat to behold. On a consumer one, it’s hard to look at the eye-watering price involved and not feel like the company’s OLED TVs offer the better bargain. They’re a cheaper route to 8K than Signature Z1 OLED is, but where QNED came across as ambitious and experimental, OLEDs like the C1 felt robust and reliable.

LG is coming in strong with OLED this year

The C1 OLED. Image: LG

It doesn’t hurt that LG’s OLED offering feels particularly strong this year, even at the cheaper end of the range – some of which is launching at a sub-$3500 price-point. This figure feels like a noteworthy milestone for OLED, which has steadily trickled towards a more mainstream definition of affordability over the years.

The A1 Series OLED aside, the entire range runs on LG’s fourth-generation Alpha 9 processor (the A1 runs on the fourth-gen Alpha 7), packs in a quartet of HDMI 2.1 inputs and plays nice with both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision iQ when it comes to HDR.

From the C1 Series upwards, LG is looking to build on the popularity of last year’s gamer-friendly CX Series OLED by matching it when it comes to supporting features like G-Sync, Free Sync Premium, Variable Refresh Rate. Paired up with a next-gen console, you’ll be able to get 4K playback at up to 120Hz from everything bar the A1. .

And so long as you aren’t interested in graduating to 8K, the new LG G1 OLED looms large as the flagship of the 4K OLED crowd.

On top of a slick stand that promises to help conceal the cabling involved, the G1 also moves the needle by delivering LG’s first OLED Evo picture quality. What this means is that the G1 is relying on a slightly different type of OLED implementation to the rest of the company’s current stable of TVs.

Thanks to this minor but meaningful leg-up on the rest of the range, the G1 is able to deliver up to 20 per cent higher peak brightness than the other OLED TVs in the lineup – including the 8K Z1 OLED.

LG QNED, OLED and NanoCell Australian pricing and release dates

Here’s a breakdown of the RRP for LG’s 2021 TV lineup:

  • LG A1 – 4K OLED TV, 48-inches ($3199), 55-inches ($3359), 65-inches ($4579)

  • LG B1- 4K OLED TV, 55-inches ($3839), 65-inches ($5,279)

  • LG C1 – 4K OLED TV, 48-inches ($3359), 55-inches ($3959), 65-inches ($5399), 77-inches ($10199), 83-inches ($14399)

  • LG G1 – 4K OLED TV, 55-inches ($4319), 65-inches ($5999), 77-inches ($11399)

  • LGSignature Z1 – 8K OLED TV, 77-inches ($35999), 88-inches ($71999)

  • LG QNED91 – 4K QLED Mini LED TV, 65-inches ($4799), 75-inches ($5999)  86-inches ($8399)

  • LG QNED96 – 8K QNED Mini LED TV, 65-inches ($6599), 75-inches  ($6599)

  • LG QNED99 – 8K QNED Mini LED TV, 65-inches ($5999), 75-inches ($7799), 86-inches ($10799)

  • LG NANO75 – 4K NanoCell TV, 43-inches ($1199), 50-inches, ($1439), 55-inches ($1799), 65-inches ($2279), 75-inches ($2999), 86-inches ($4799)

  • LG NANO77 – 4K NanoCell TV, 55-inches ($1799), 65-inches ($2279)

  • LG NANO86 – 4K NanoCell TV, 55-inches ($2279), 65-inches ($2879), 75-inches ($3599), 86-inches ($5999)

  • LG NANO91- 4K NanoCell TV, 65-inches ($3599), 75-inches ($4799), 86-inches ($7199)

  • LG UP80 – 4K UHD TV, 43-inches ($1079), 50-inches ($1199), 55-inches ($1459), 65-inches ($1787), 75-inches ($2434), 86-inches ($4259)

The bulk of LG’s 2021 TV range will be available in Australia via the usual retailer partners from May 20th, with the LGs QNED line and the Signature Z1 8K OLED tentatively due to land sometime around July.