LG’s Über Televisions, The Road To CES…

LG, manufacturer of gadgets that we can all afford have embarked on a media campaign with a bang. The build up to CES has that effect on large corporations. With many drool worthy gadgets being prepared for demonstration at the show, anticipation is building. Like a slow running game of Wheel of Fortune LG has been slowly revealing the latest TV technology. IPS monitors were demonstrated in early December, now LG has turned its attention to every one’s favorite window on the world, the TV.

Two new Über TV’s have had the preview treatment along with updates to LG’s Smart technology used in the Cinema TV’s and Smart Remote controls. LG may have caught the rest of the TV market napping at the wheel with their 55 inch OLED TV, a spectacular technology tour de force that will be the first large screen OLED to market.

With amazing color, extreme refresh rates and the looks to match OLED is the next generation TV. LG has yet to announce the official list price but with much simpler manufacturing process – when compared to other OLED technology – this is the OLED that will battle the top end LCD TV’s. Top end LCD TV technology isn’t standing still though, nor is it waiting for OLED’s to dominate. LG has been pushing LCD technology to it’s limits in the process producing the 84 inch Ultra Hi-Definition 3D LCD TV, a television that dwarfs all but the tallest man. With twice the resolution and four times as many pixels this is the leading edge of big screen LCD’s.

The first dream screen tease from LG was the 55″ OLED display. Many companies have their white coat lab types working away feverishly to bring this next generation technology to market, LG looks to be the first to demonstrate a large size working product, that won’t cost more than a house. LG’s OLED TV is one of those TV’s that looks amazing when it’s turned off and leaves people speechless when it’s turned on. At 4mm thick at it’s thinnest point it’s svelte and sexy rating is off the charts. Weighing just 7.5 kg’s this is thin and light at its best.

“Working closely with LG Display, we have a product which not only delivers on all the advantages of OLED over LCD but at a significantly lower cost than what could be achieved using existing OLED manufacturing technologies,” said Havis Kwon, President and CEO of LG Electronics Home Entertainment Company. “OLED is clearly the future of home TV entertainment and LG is very focused on making this exciting technology as easy as possible for consumers to embrace.”

While many OLED TV’s – Samsung and Sony – use three different colored organic light emitting diodes to produce each pixel on the screen LG has chosen a much simpler technique. Using white OLED’s combined with color filters to color the light and produce the pixel LG completely avoids the major issue that has held back large scale OLED TV’s, blue OLED’s. Blue OLED’s are expensive to produce and have very short life spans which has kept the price high and lifespan short. OLED’s have till now had a 10,000 hour lifespan, while LCD’s lifespans start at 50,000 hours. LG’s new panel should sit dead in the middle at between 20,000 and 30,000 hours. While OLED purists’ may cringe at the use of filters instead of multicolored OLED’s the proof is in the pudding, or will be once the TV hit’s the market.

Also different is the use of 4 colors – sub-pixels – to create the displayed color as opposed to the standard 3 colors Red, Green and Blue. LG claims this produces a much more natural colored picture. The contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 and refresh rates a thousand time quicker than LCD’s also extends OLED potential advantages over LCD.

LG will be showing more than just a demonstration panel under their OLED name cards. This is a fully functioning TV that includes LG’s Smart TV software that brings the Internet right to your TV. Along with Magic Remote and all of the usual inputs and outputs required to make this the center of your multimedia empire.

LG wisely realizes there is plenty of life left in LCD yet, especially as they continue to push the boundaries of LCD technology. At 84 inches LG’s latest LCD is a monster of a TV with a monster resolution to match. In normal 2D mode the TV crams an incredible 3840 x 2080 pixels on the screen – Ultra Hi-Definition, UD -, double the resolution of standard HD.

“LG is pushing the limits of home entertainment innovation with this 3D UD TV,” said Havis Kwon, President and CEO of LG Electronics Home Entertainment Company. “We are bringing together all our Smart TV and 3D knowledge in the 3D UD TV in order to demonstrate to the CES audience that LG is committed to being the world’s leading brand for immersive home entertainment in 2012 and beyond.”

The UD resolution not only improves the picture quality of 2D images but it also greatly enhances the 3D experience. One of the by products of the 3D image being built from 2 slightly different images – one for each eye – is that the resolution of the final image is half that of the panels native resolution. We have to love LG’s solution, double the TV’s resolution. In that way by doubling the panels native resolution when 3D is engaged the image is still clear and high definition. Couple the new display with LG’s funky new 3D glasses that resemble a normal pair of ray bans and you are in for a 3D treat. The UD display works in normal everyday 2D just as well as 3D. While there is no content yet available to match the 4k resolution LG has included up scaling chips in the TV to drag your Blu-Ray content up to the TV’s standard. The Blu-Ray consortium is also working on a 4k format that may be finalized during 2012 / 2013.

Just as with the 55 inch OLED LG’s 84 inch demonstration TV is a production ready and fully loaded with LG’s latest Smart TV software and remote control technology. LG plans to release the new monster during 2012, but initially it will be a limited release, not available in every country around the world

“LG has been striving to constantly improve the comfort and convenience with which our customers use the Cinema 3D Smart TVs,” said Havis Kwon, president and CEO of LG Home Entertainment. “The new Magic Remote is our latest example, incorporating new functions that will make it easier for users to approach and use the Cinema 3D Smart TVs, particularly our Smart TV function which now has over 1,000 apps and a growing abundance of premium content.”

The LG Smart Remote – also called the Magic Motion Remote in some countries – has also been upgraded to accept voice commands – Siri style – expanding control options. Currently Smart Remote is motion capture enabled with Wii style motion control functions  The upgrade also includes a central scroll wheel for quickly navigating through lists. Now you can not only look like a mad man waving the remote about but you can be talking to no-one at the same time.

LG isn’t limiting it’s smarts to remotes, upgrading the Smart TV software found in LG’s Cinema 3D Smart TV’s, expanding the built in functionality. Now with 1,200 Smart TV apps the LG Smart TV interface brings TV based applications to your living room. Functionality includes web browsing, web applications – including popular social media apps like Facebook – downloadable apps and media streaming over DNLA which allows your TV to play media stored on a computer on the same network as your TV. The latest generation Smart TV software is easily the equal of general media playback devices such as the Western Digital’s Live.

CES is traditionally a hot spot for new releases of the Consumer Electronics kind, this year is building up to a scorcher. LG has been doing their part, making like a beaver and busily building the next generation technology we will all be using soon. Toshiba, Samsung and Sony all have similar technology in the works but we will all have to wait till January 9th for those announcements, they are playing their cards close to their chest until the opening of day of CES. A day we all look forward to, the day the gadgets come to town.