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Taste the rainbow: LG will ratchet up color in its 2015 LCDs with quantum dots

Anyone shopping for a TV these days knows that the latest buzzword is 4K, but another new technology is about to steal the limelight for 2015: quantum dots. LG kicked off the quantum-dot madness in earnest on Monday with a sneak peek at its 2015 line of quantum dot-equipped TVs, which boast a broader color palette. Oh, and they’ll have 4K UHD LCD panels, too.

Quantum dot TVs piggyback off of current LCD technology, which employs a backlight that shines through a series of shutters to emit an image. However, as LG explains it, quantum-dot tech works by “harnessing nano crystals that range in size from 2 to 10 nanometers.”

The different sizes of the crystals allow each to bend light passed through it in its own shade.

When you shine light on a quantum dot, it glows, thereby emitting its own light. The color that a quantum dot emits is directly tied to its size, and is extremely stable. In this way, using quantum dots results in a broader range of colors that are brighter and more accurate than existing LCD TVs are able to produce.

By putting a film of these little crystals in front of an LCD backlight, LG claims it has improved its LCD TV’s color reproduction rate by more than 30 percent. The system is also environmentally friendly, thanks to elimination of cadmium or other toxic heavy metals in the production of quantum dots.

“Quantum dot’s vibrant and vivid color reproduction capabilities brings LG’s LCD TVs to the next level when it comes to picture quality,” said In-kyu Lee, senior vice president and head of the TV and monitor division at the LG Electronics Home Entertainment Company.

That may well be true, but our excitement for the new quantum dot 4K UHD TVs remains tempered. Quantum dots or not, the TVs still employ LCD panels, bringing along the inherent limitations of the technology, including difficulty creating rich contrast and deeper black levels, as well as poor off-axis viewing.

For now, we’ll stand by the astonishing picture quality of LG’s own OLED TVs, which forego an LCD backlight for displays that employ compounds that generate their own light, rather than rely on an exterior light source. While OLED tech has met with its own challenges in stability and affordability, LG is leading the pack right now, and the company’s 65-inch EC9700 OLED 4K UHD TV is truly a wonder to behold.

That said, we’re still very intrigued to go eyes on with LG’s latest quantum dot creations at this year’s show. And you can bet your lunch money that today’s announcement is only the beginning, as a stable of manufacturers bring their own quantum dot displays to bear.

Stay with us as we ramp up for CES next month, bringing you all the latest on these new TVs, and an ocean of other technologies that will make their way to the show floor in Vegas.