Having already leaked the details of its 105-inch UHD TV and three new OLED models—including a 77-inch set, the largest OLED we've ever seen—last week, LG hits CES 2014 today to announce a few other jumbo-sized UHD sets, including a new UB9800 series of premium UHD TVs that top out at 98 inches.
During the show, the company also took the wraps off a new smart TV platform, webOS, that it acquired from HP last year. LG says that webOS will be rolled out to about 56 percent of its smart TV lineup this year.
As we previously reported, the 105-inch set, model 105UC9, is a curved UHD TV with a 21:9 aspect ratio, meaning it's wider than a conventional 16:9 set. The advantage is that you don't get black bars above and below the image when you're viewing widescreen movies shot in the 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 format, which are increasingly common. The extra-wide screen also lets you view info on the side of the screen without blocking any of the ongoing action on the main part of the screen. The TV comes equipped with a 7.2-channel sound system designed with Harman Kardon.
We're expecting to see more TVs with curved screens—both UHD sets and conventional 1080p models—announced here at the show this week.
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LG's new flagship UB9800 series UHD sets will be offered 65-, 79-, 84- and 98-inch screen sizes. Like the 105-incher, these TVs will include LG's new upscaling technology, called Tru-Ultra HD Engine Pro, to upconvert regular 1080p content—and even standard-def fare—to the TV's higher 3840x2160 resolution. As more UHD TVs are introduced, we believe that how well a TV performs this feature will be a key differentiator between the various brands.
The UHD TVs come equipped with HDMI 2.0 inputs (with support for 60 frames-per-second video), plus built-in decoding of the new more efficient H.265 (HEVC) video format. HEVC will allow for 4K content to be delivered to TVs using existing broadband—and eventually broadcast—networks. At LG's press conference, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced that the company will stream "House of Cards" in 4K this year.
Not surprisingly, the TVs are loaded with features, including LG’s passive 3D technology, and the Harman Kardon sound system, which features speakers that are angled back slightly to create a wider sound field.
LG also announced two new lower-priced UHD series. The UB9500 models will be available in 55- and 65-inch screen sizes, while less expensive UB8500-series sets will come with 49- or 55-inch screens.
LG says the new webOS platform will simplify the smart TV experience when you're looking for and viewing content, as well as when connecting with other devices. One key feature of webOS is a left-to-right scrollable menu, called the Launcher, that runs along the lower portion of the screen. The Launcher lets you switch between broadcast TV, smart TV content, and media stored on external devices without having to return to the TV’s home screen. You can also simultaneously watch a show, play a game, and browse the Internet while searching or downloading other content.
More companies are trying to find ways to make finding, accessing, and organizing content easier for viewers. We're looking forward to getting some of LG's 2014 sets in our labs to see if the webOS approach accomplishes that goal.
—James K. Willcox
For all the show news, trends, and analysis visit our insider's guide to CES 2014.
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