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LG TVs at CES 2021: OLED gets a brightness boost

Nothing about CES 2021 is quite normal, but one tradition remains intact: LG is kicking off the first day of CES 2021 with its official product announcements and, as always, new TVs are the highlight.

In the lead-up to the annual tech show, Samsung, TCL, and Sony announced their premium TV lineups, and now it is LG’s turn. As you might expect, there’s plenty of news around OLED, but LG has also revved up its LED TV lineup and given it a new name, so we’ll certainly look into what that’s all about.

For the past few years, LG’s newly announced OLED TVs have looked … well, very similar to prior year OLEDs with mostly incremental improvements. That’s not counting the rollable OLED and Wallpaper OLED, of course.

Most improvements were centered around processing, but this year we get an evolution. That’s apparent in what LG is calling its new OLED sets this year: OLED EVO. So what’s actually new? Several things.

A brightness boost for OLED

The most exciting new development is that LG has figured out how to make its OLED TVs brighter. That means even more contrast. And not just in the bright highlights — the TVs will be brighter overall, too. LG says that it is using a new luminous element — it hasn’t specified what it is yet — that promises “light precision excellence.” The sense I have gotten is that overall brightness will get a boost but not at the sacrifice of accuracy. That’s great news because it means that LG’s OLEDs should have even higher color volume than last year, improving HDR performance just that much more. This new brightness is only coming to one OLED series, though, which I’ll get to in just a moment.

LG OLED TV Lineup 2021

A stands for Affordable

Another exciting piece of news around LG’s OLEDs is an all-new series that could bring the cost of OLED TVs down considerably — more than in any year prior. Introducing the A Series, OLED TVs built to be more affordable and accessible by trimming off some premium features while still offering stellar OLED picture quality.

The new A Series will be available in 48-, 55-, 65-, and 77-inch sizes. They won’t have LG’s fanciest processor or the latest HDMI features, but they will be solid TVs at a lower price.

Those of you wondering what happened to the B Series. Well, it’s gone. But LG told me the A Series isn’t just a replacement for B Series — it’s a whole new thing.

OLED goes big

The next big thing happening to OLED is literally big. LG is adding an 83-inch model to its C Series, which now includes 48-, 55-, 65-, 77-, and 83-inch models.

LG EVO Gallery Stand 2021

G stands for Goodies?

The “G” in LG’s G Series actually stands for Gallery and denotes LG’s design-centric, premium line of OLED TVs. If you haven’t figured it out already, it’s the G Series getting the brighter OLED panels I mentioned earlier. LG has also tweaked the design of the G series for 2021, offering an even more slim, decor-friendly aesthetic.

All except the A series will get LG’s new A9 Gen4 AI processor, which is supposed to be its most powerful chip yet. It is set to unleash image quality improvements like object enhancement, scene detection, and game genre detection, which optimizes gaming performance depending on whether you are playing a fast-moving shooter or a more graphically intense RPG. I’m super curious to see how that works.

So that’s OLED, let’s now talk QNED. To be clear, it’s not just QNED, it’s QNED mini-LED. Confused? I think all will be clear once I explain how these TVs will work.

The big announcement here is that LG is now making mini-LED TVs, joining TCL and Samsung. Mini-LED TVs have the potential to deliver OLED-like black levels while achieving very high brightness.

LG is also outfitting these QNED mini-LED TVs with nanoparticles, which is really another way of saying a sheet of quantum dots. That’s what puts the Q in QLED. But as mentioned before, this is QNED, not QLED. I mean QNED mini-LED. Anyway.

LG says its most advanced TVs will have up to about 30,000 mini-LEDs and up to about 2,500 local dimming zones, which should result in significantly higher brightness and contrast. So, essentially, it will significantly improve the performance of some of LG’s LCD-based TVs.

LG QNED Mini LED TV lineup

These new Nanocell Evo TVs, by all rights, should look spectacular. This makes me wonder, though: If the new QNED mini-LED sets will be more expensive and offer picture quality that’s very close to OLED, while the new A-series OLEDs are coming down in price, will there be much of a price difference between the two?

To be clear, this is not the QNED you may have heard discussed on tech sites recently — those use nanorods. But regardless of the potentially confusing name, I think these new TVs are going to be very competitive.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you a rundown of all the models and all the sizes of those models and which series will get which features because, frankly, it’s way too complicated, but we will put together a chart illustrating the lineup once pricing is announced.

Magic Remote and WebOS

LG did have some other TV-related announcements: Its WebOS interface got an overhaul and it looks much fresher and easier to use. Also, there is a new Magic Remote — the word motion has been removed, but LG has confirmed it is still a motion-based remote. Finally, Google Stadia will eventually be built right into select LG TVs.

Overall, I think LG brought it this year. Brighter OLED panels, more OLED options than ever before, new screen sizes, and a completely revamped LED-based TV line, all developed under very difficult conditions last year. Color me impressed … in HDR, of course.

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Caleb Denison
Digital Trends Editor at Large Caleb Denison is a sought-after writer, speaker, and television correspondent with unmatched…
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