When it comes to home entertainment tech, it's hard to get me interested. When a company refreshes its lineup for the new year, things tend to feel a little samey. Thankfully, after getting to see some of what LG brought to CES 2020, up close, I can safely say that LG's offerings for the year have managed to find a way to strike a delicate balance between familiarity and innovation.
Times are tough, so let's start with LG's biggest TV on display, with the LG ZX Signature series 8K OLED set. Regardless of size, both the 77'' and 88'' will surely be impressive to anyone who happens to walk into its vicinity. Image quality realistically looks great but isn't the leap you'd expect from something like a full HD 1080p image to a 4k picture. However, what is impressive is the sheer scalability.
Taking a look at a demo, I was genuinely impressed to see LG's ThinQ smart tech at work. The demo in question took a lower resolution image of a sports car and blew it up to the full 8k resolution in steps, which not only looked impressive but practically showed finer details within the image becoming more and more pronounced, ultimately making the finer decal detail standout and look as if it was shot in a higher native resolution.
The question of whether or not 8K really serves a purpose, especially due to the fact that for many households, even a 4k image can be hard to come by, will surely be asked, and in honesty, the difference between 4k and 8k depends heavily on how close you want to sit to the display itself, which is usually around 3-5ft for a 1080P and up display. 8k, however, allows you to get right up to the tv, which is probably not ideal, but due to how dense the pixels are on display, you can get away with it and not notice anything amiss. In fact, it is likely you will pick-up on more nuanced detail which can now be scrutinized from closer than ever before.
Realistically, LG's 8K ZX series is at this point, is more of a reminder that higher resolutions do exist and are becoming something closer to the mainstream, with practical uses for it when done right. If anything, the ZX model definitely does a lot right for those who have the budget and space for it.
I must admit, Sound isn't my area of expertise, yet, LG's SN11RG soundbar along with their in-ear Bluetooth headphones, which puts a distinctly LG spin on Apple's popular Airpod line, both impressed in the practical-upgrade side of things. The SN11RG, in particular, stood out with its seamless integration with both LG equipped ThinQ powered tech in addition to other third-party devices, as well. Ultimately, the SN11RG left me feeling confident, that even someone who is technologically inept, could easily manage in getting the soundbar set up to play nice with their existing home entertainment gear, be it LG ThinQ or otherwise.
Speaking of ThinQ, all of the TVs on display, including both the sleek, paper-like Gallery series to the aforementioned ZX 8K giant, all feature LG's own smart technology. AI, is something I'm not super comfortable with, not that I don't trust it or have privacy issues; rather, I tend to find them superfluous and gimmicky. Surprisingly, I was left feeling genuinely impressed with how intuitive and nuanced the system in place was, in terms of remembering things and detecting commands that sound like natural spoken word, rather than rigid and specific orders.
During the demo, a trailer for the Dr. Dolittle movie was put on. The film, which stars Robert Downey JR desperately trying to find work after getting axed from the MCU, was effortlessly interpreted by the TV. Merely asking about more information, promptly pulled up a list of highlights and other movies that feature him, including all the services available that offer content starring Downey. In short, I can safely say that LG's ThinQ implementation is an excellent replacement in having to look down to ones' smartphone.
HDR is something I still struggle in finding good quality content for, especially when the range of quality can vary on what it is being displayed on, but if there ever was a definitive range of Tvs that I could easily recommend in choosing for HDR consumption, it would go to LG. In particular, the CX and the gallery-range of sets are truly impressive to look at, with ultra-rich, inky black levels that create dynamic contrast and play nicely with scenes that feature both light and dark areas within the frame of the shot.
When it comes to gaming, I prefer the big screen over something like a laptop or portable handheld device, which is why, at home, I have my laptop essentially hardwired to my 50'' HDTV. My setup offers both a good 4k and HDR picture, but unfortunately lacks freesync or a high enough refresh rate to allow uncapped framerates in my PC gaming experience. The reality of a TV with a high refresh rate, akin to a monitor, like with any new trend in technology, felt limited to prototypes and exuberantly expensive sets. The 48'' CX OLED tv, with G-sync support, not only offers an enjoyable TV viewing experience, complete with HDR support, it seems to be the perfect middle ground for those like myself, who are looking for a TV to do a monitor's job. Seeing it in person, the 48'' screen felt like the ideal size between a large format TV and something you can practically use as a computer screen replacement. In other words, the 48'' CX felt like a set that was not limited only to media consumption, but also viable as a monitor for photo-editing, drawing, and even writing for long stretches of time.
LG's 2020 offerings are great for new customers that either want to upgrade or get a set that will be guaranteed to last a long time in regards to functionality and connectivity. Those who may have purchased anything from LG in the past couple of years, however, should note that although the upgrades present in the latest models are great, they ultimately just add-on to a range of already fantastic TVs and home entertainment essentials. Starting at $1,999CAD and launching this Spring, LG's 2020 lineup is perfect for those in the market for a new set and are willing to be a little more flexible with their budget.