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LG Evo at CES: Brighter OLED TVs are finally coming, but they won’t come cheap – CNET

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The G1 is LG’s brightest OLED TV yet.

LG

This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.

OLED is the king of TVs and LG is the king of OLED, and for CES 2021 the company adds a shinier jewel to its crown. Called Evo, it packs an all-new panel that’s been re-engineered to improve light output. That’s the good news. The bad news is that extra brightness will make an already expensive TV cost even more.

Happily for video quality aficionados on (somewhat of) a budget, LG will sell less expensive OLED TVs too. And if your budget is basically limitless, rest assured that an all-new 8K resolution OLED TV is coming soon to tempt your fancy.

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In case you’re new here, OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode. OLED screens in TVs, phones and other devices produce superior picture quality compared to LCD, the only other major display technology on the market, because each individual pixel emits its own light and can be turned off completely, creating infinite contrast

Last year the best high-end TV I reviewed was the LG CX series OLED TV, and in my side-by-side tests it beat LCD models like Samsung and TCL’s QLED TVs. Only LG, Sony and Vizio sell OLED TVs in the US and panels for all three manufacturers are produced by one company: LG Display. For years LGD’s OLED panels have remained essentially unchanged, albeit excellent, while LCD TVs continued to improve. Peak light output on the brightest LCDs is more than double that of OLEDs available now, and brightness is an important component of picture quality, especially HDR. New Mini-LED-powered LCDs like Samsung’s Neo QLED and LG’s own QNED promise to further widen the gap.

LG’s new Evo TVs for 2021, along with the brighter OLED models Sony announced, represent the first major (sorry) evolution in OLED since HDR itself in 2015. 

Here’s a quick look at LG’s 2021 OLED lineup and how it breaks down.

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LG

LG 2021 OLED lineup

Series Sizes (inches) Resolution Evo panel Gallery design Processor
Z1 88, 77 8K No No A9 Gen 4 8K
G1 77, 65, 55 4K Yes Yes A9 Gen 4
C1 83, 77, 65, 55, 48 4K No No A9 Gen 4
A1 77, 65, 55, 48 4K No No A7 Gen 4

Z1 series: The flagship of LG’s 2021 OLED lineup is only available in the two massive sizes and it’s the only OLED you can buy with 8K resolution. The 77-inch size will get the same Gallery design as the G1 below. I still consider 8K TVs a waste of money, and 8K OLED TVs even more so, but if you’re wealthy, it’s the next best thing to MicroLED. FYI the 88-inch version cost $30,000 in 2020.

G1 series: The G stands for Gallery, a reference to the slim, wall-hugging design first introduced last year, but the biggest upgrade is Evo. The only way to get LG’s new, brighter panel is to buy its G1 series — none of the other LG OLEDs have it. Evo TVs have a new luminous element, described as a new layer of green by the LG rep who briefed me, which provides more color purity and extra brightness. How much brighter the rep wouldn’t specify. 

The G1 and Z1 models also have a newly designed remote that includes separate buttons for all three voice assistants built into the TV — Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and LG’s ThinQ system — as well as additional hotkeys for more streaming services.

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The C1 series is LG’s mainstream 2021 OLED.

LG

C1 series: As with 2020 LG’s “C” series of OLED TVs is the baseline, with the most sizes and the company’s latest 4K processor. New for 2021 it’s adding a new size, 83 inches, to keep up with the influx of 85-inch LCD TVs from competitors. Otherwise it’s very similar to the 2020 CX, although LG has upgraded its A9 processor again to the fourth generation, adding scene detection and upgrading object enhancement. I expect any image quality improvement over the CX to be minimal, but we’ll have to wait for reviews to be sure.

A1 series: As LG’s least expensive 2021 OLED TV, the main difference between the A1 and C1 is a less impressive processor. In previous years LG gave its entry-level OLEDs a “B” moniker, but for 2021 it evidently wanted to raise the steaks (rimshot). 

Aside from the 83-inch Evo panel, LG also added a few new tricks to its 2021 OLEDs, most notably gaming-related.

Game Optimizer: The CX was my pick as the overall best TV for gaming and LG will continue to support next-gen gaming features like Nvidia G-Sync, FreeSync, VRR and 4K/120Hz input (on all four HDMI ports), as well as adding a new Game Optimizer feature. It’s designed to automatically recognize and classify games by genre, for example First-Person Shooter, Strategy or Role-Playing, and adjust contrast, clarity and shadow detail accordingly — for example making shadows brighter in FPS games to reveal hidden enemies. The TVs also have a single screen that gathers all game-related data and settings, including genre settings, VRR status, blue light reduction and input lag delay, in one place. 

Cloud gaming built-in: New for 2021, LG’s TVs will work with Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now. All subscribers will need to play is one of the platform’s controllers, a subscription and a fast internet connection. LG says Stadia will launch in the second quarter and GeForce Now in the fourth quarter of the year. Separately, LG TVs are adding a built-in app for the Twitch game streaming service.

New Home screen: LG tweaked the home page of its smart TV system to bolster personalized recommendations and access apps more quickly. 

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LG’s new Gallery stand in action.

LG

Gallery stand: A new option for the 55- and 65-inch sizes in the G1, C1 and A1 series is a modern-looking freestanding stand. Its slim pole-mount doesn’t allow any room for components and its tripod of legs precludes placement too close to a wall. Instead it creates a sleek, minimalist look more at home toward the middle of a suitably modernist room.

Pricing and availability for LG’s new OLED TVs was not announced.

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