LG continued its push behind OLED TV technology with the launch of seven 4K OLED TVs at CES 2015, powering them with an improved version of its WebOS operating system.
LG, a multinational conglomerate with products in several different categories, also announced a range of new home appliances—including a washing machine with a second, smaller washer built in—and a new smartphone, the LG G Flex 2. In the days leading up to CES, LG also announced the first widescreen display with AMD’s FreeSync support, and Music Flow, a Sonos-like technology that can stream music as you walk around the home. Finally, LG also announced plans to enter the so-called Internet of Things with new services, as well as support for open standards.
LG, like Sony, Panasonic, and others, is primarily thought of as a TV maker, especially where CES is concerned. And in an attempt to stave off an industry that has struggled to lure buyers with technical innovation—3D televisions flopped, and there’s no compelling evidence that curved screens resonated with shoppers—LG has turned to OLED technology instead.
LG helped pioneer the OLED TV, and company executives said that they would double down on the technology during its CES press event. Its corporate partner, LG Display, has invested $600 million in new OLED display manufacturing capacity.
“For all the virtues of a conventional LCD TV, it makes it difficult to enable perfect blacks,” said Tim Alessi, director of new product development for home entertainment products at LG.
LG said it would combine OLED with the other hot TV technology at CES: 4K resolutions. LG will offer seven different 4K OLED TVs, with display sizes ranging from 55 inches to 77 inches. All of them are based on WRGB technology, adding a white pixel that basically enables an infinite contrast ratio; OLED TVs can turn off individual pixels, creating perfect blacks. The white pixel, by contrast, can enable perfect whites. Response times will be on the order of 0.001 ms, LG said. LG didn’t reveal the refresh rate of the new OLED displays, however, nor their prices.
Specifically, the new models are the “77-inch Art Slim curved 4K OLED TV” (Model 77EG9700), the 55-inch “Floating Art Slim curved 4K OLED TV” (Model 55EG9600), the "65-inch Art Slim Flat 4K OLED TV" (Model 65EF9800) and the "65-inch Floating Art Slim Flat 4K OLED TV" (Model 65EF9500), LG said.
And the improved color fidelity has also paid off in another way. As a show of support, Netlfix said that it would include LG in its first TV certification program.
Greg Peters, the chief streaming and partnership officer at Netflix, said that the company began adding more pixels to its streams last year, with the addition of 4K streaming. For 2015, the new innovation Netflix plans to add is support for high dynamic range, deepening the blacks and improving contrast. Netflix will begin certifying televisions that meet this goal with a “recommended “ designation that meets Netflix’s standard of ease of use, reliability, and performance, he said. “We’re setting the bar higher this year,” he said on stage during the LG presentation.
LG also plans to increase the number of 4K TV models it sells sell this year. According to DisplaySearch, about 60 million 4K TVs will be sold by 2018. And with innovations such as 3D TVs bombing with consumers, LG plans to increase the number of 4K TVs with displays sizes ranging from 43 to 105 inches, for a total of 32 different models, he said.
LG also announced more conventional 4K TVs before CES, using IPS technology and a new quantum dot technology to offer improved color accuracy and a 30 percent increase in the color gamut. A new Natural Color feature minimizes color reproduction errors, while a Contrast Optimizer maximizes color contrast and brightness.
All of the new TVs will be powered by an improved version of the webOS 2.0 operating system, which will run on top of quad-core processors inside the new TVs. Alessi promised a new Quick Start technology that will help power them on within a few seconds, and 4K content partnerships with Netflix, Vudu, YouTube and others to keep users within LG’s content ecosystem. LG is also the exclusive partner for the GoPro channel, he said,.
An Internet of Things and services
Last year, LG launched HomeChat, a platform that uses natural language processing to control home appliances. At CES 2015, LG said that is tying HomeChat to Google's Nest Labs smart-home subsidiary to allow LG appliances to coordinate with Nest controller software. It will even connect to cars.
"Before leaving home, you simply say where you want to go and your destination will automatically be added to your car’s navigation system in order to safely guide you on your journey," said Skott Ahn, chief technology officer for LG.
LG also developed a wellness platform that will be able to connect to and control your appliances, he said.
LG also said that it has developed a car-connectivity technology that can mirror an Android or iOS display on to a car dashboard. LG is working with AllSeen and the OneM2M standards for IoT.