Jan. 17, 2021

Did LG troll the internet (and make TVs better again)?


Let's catch up with what LG has announced during last week's CES virtual show.

Transcript

Intro

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Words of Tim Podcast. My name is Tariq Monther, you can call me Tim, I hope you’re all doing well and you’re staying safe and staying sane. 

I forgot to mention this last time, but I’m going to start posting these episodes as blog posts on my website wordsoftim.com that will also have some images and videos. So, if you don’t like listening to my smooth silky voice or want to check out what the things I’m talking about look like, then I got you covered.

Continuing off the previous episode where I highlighted all the cool things that stood out to me from Lenovo during CES 2021, I will go in a bit more detail with LG’s announcements since they didn’t announce as much as Lenovo did. If you haven’t heard that yet, please check it out after this episode; Lenovo had some great announcements to share.

For those who don’t know, CES is an annual tech show event where companies announce their latest and greatest new products, and boy did LG announce some great things. Let me break it down for you.

A trolling phone

I swear the title is not clickbait. LG really did troll the internet, and they do it at the very start of their keynote! You see, everyone knows that LG is working on a rollable phone; a phone with a screen that rolls out to expand it and then roll back into the regular form factor, just like their rollable TVs. They even announced that it’ll be called the LG Rollable.

It was all a matter of when they would be revealing it to the world, and the second the keynote starts, you see it happen on a phone where the screen rolls out and expands to reveal more of it. It’s so smooth and looks very cool (and it’s also fake) and they do not mention it ever for the rest of the presentation. Adding insult to injury, when the presentation ends you see it happen on the phone as the screen rolls back in. LG got us good, didn’t they?

Regardless, there’s a lot of hype around this phone, and the rotating LG Wing which I talked about in a previous episode, was the start of LG’s new Explore Project which promises to deliver innovative and unexplored products. I can get behind that, and I think a lot of people are waiting to see more of what LG has to offer. Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait longer for a rollable LG phone. LG’s mobile division has lost significant market share and was bleeding money for years, and it looks like they’re leaning on Explore Project to build some of that trust and cash flow back. 

OLED, the new generation

While LG might have been doing terribly in the smartphone market, they’ve been killing it in the TV market, most notably with their C9 and B9 OLED TVs from 2019 and the CX and BX models from last year, which were fan-favorite amongst gamers and others as they offered high refresh rate displays as well as offering all the OLED picture quality goodness LG has become known for.

They’re raising the bar again with the new LG evo line of TVs that has a bunch of innovative updates. The most exciting thing for me is not their new and improved second generation OLED panels that will have brighter, richer and more detailed images.

It’s also not their new 4th generation a9 AI processor which will be even better at upscaling low resolution images to 8K, nor is it AI Picture Pro which not only optimizes the overall image based on the scene type, but can also detect all the different elements that are in the scene you are watching and process them separately; nor even how they use AI Sound Pro to up-mix your audio to virtual 5.1.2 surround sound which can be played back from TV speakers directly.


None of these things got me excited the most. It’s actually the changes they’re making to their Magic Remote that literally put a smile on my face. Yes, the remote! I don’t know what’s up with tech companies this year. In the last episode I talked about all the awesome stuff that Lenovo has announced at CES, and the most exciting for me was their S600 Gaming Station headphone stand. It could just be me, I don’t know. Go check out the last episode after you’re done with this one to find out more about that.

So back to LG and their new 2021 Magic Remote. It has a new ergonomic design and dedicated buttons to activate LG’s ThinkQ voice services as well as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, turning your remote into a do-it-all when it comes to controlling your smart home devices. Some remotes will have NFC allowing you to easily pair with your smartphone. Once connected, you can not only quickly mirror your phone’s content to the TV, but you can also mirror whatever is on the TV to your phone, making it possible to move around the house while still watching your content. Let’s be honest here, how many people would want to continue watching a show they’re binging while on the toilet?

I couldn’t find any mention of this, but Linus from Linus Tech Tips who was sent an LG G1 TV, mentioned in his video that you can also route only the TV’s audio to your phone so you can listen to what’s on the TV through your phone’s speakers or a connected pair of headphones. So if it’s late at night and you want to watch some Netflix or play a game and don’t want to turn up the volume too loud because you’re a good member of the family, you can basically use your phone and headphones as the TV’s wireless headphones. That’s a sweet idea.

LG TV’s in 2021 will also get an update to their webOS dashboard. webOS 6 will now be more content-centric as it will serve you recommendations from streaming services for content based on what you’ve watched, it will also give you quick access to your connected devices, it will automatically display a list of the live TV channels you’ve watched the most so you can access them quicker, and with Magic Explorer it can even display information about the content you’re watching (such as the actor bios and locations).

For the gamers out there, LG TVs will also have a gaming-focused control center called the Game Optimizer that will put all the game related settings such as genre-based picture settings, variable refresh rate, input delay, and more, in one easy to access place. If you don’t have a console or a gaming PC connected to your TV, don’t worry as you can still get your game on as Google Stadia will be available on 2021’s LG TVs. There will also be a Twitch app for those who like to watch people game or draw art (btw, I do some pretty chill mandala art streams on Twitch, come by and say hi at twitch.tv/fatmantim).

If you’re looking to get all this LG OLED goodness but don’t want to break the bank, then be on the lookout for the new A series of LG OLED TVs. While last year the B series was the “budget” line with some compromises, LG skipped that this year and introduced the A series with the biggest compromise being the lack of HDMI 2.1 ports, meaning you won’t be getting the fast 120Hz display.

LCD is not dead. Enter QNED.

If you’re not a fan of OLED, then this is where LG’s new QNED TVs come into play. QNED is their new MiniLED range of TVs that takes LCD up to 11. While OLED panels can turn off each individual pixel allowing for an infinite contrast ratio, LG’s QNED TVs will have 30,000 tiny but very bright LEDs paired up in 2,500 dimming zones to deliver a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. To put it simply, the brightness levels and the differences between the light and the dark areas in what you’re watching will vary across 2,500 areas on your screen to deliver a wide dynamic range of brightness and details. Some QNED TVs will also be getting a 120Hz panel and the aforementioned a9 processor to further improve picture quality and gaming experience. You won’t be getting OLED level performance, but it should be a big step up from regular LCD TVs.

LG Gram

Moving away from the big screens of LG TVs to the little ones on their laptops, we have ourselves the announcement of the new LG grams, which come in 14, 16, and 17-models. This year, just like a lot of other manufacturers are doing, they’ve increased the aspect ratio of their screens to 16:10, giving you more vertical space to work with, and they’ve also decreased the bezels.

These laptops are great for content creators as they have a 99% DCI-P3 color gamut and a 2560x1600 resolution making your content look better, however the 14-inch model will be getting a 1080p display. There’s a full-sized keyboard with a numpad for the 16 and 17-inch models which is awesome for number-crunchers while the more portable 14-inch model doesn’t have that. The 14 and 16-inch models also come in a 2-in-1 variant with a touch and pen-enabled display. 

They’re all running on Intel’s latest 11th generation Core processor and Iris Xe graphics with up to 16 GB of RAM, support for Wi-Fi 6, and they have dual M.2 NVMe SSD slots so you can upgrade them in the future to the storage capacity of your liking. The new LG gram also sports a fingerprint sensor for easy and quick login, Thunderbolt 4, an HDMI port, as well as a microSD reader.

Of course the grams are light with the 14, 16, and 17-inch models weighing in at 999g, 1.19kg, and 1.35kg respectively, and the 2-in-1 14 and 16-inch models weighing 1.25kg and 1.48kg. Even though they’re light, both 16-inch models as well as the 17-inch model pack an 80W battery, while both 14-inch models come with a 72W battery.

A fine OLED monitor

If you want to take your content creation to the next level, the LG UltraFine OLED Pro is a 31.5-inch 4K display with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and a 99% DCI-P3 and 99% Adobe RGB color calibration that will show you all the colors as they’re intended to look like.

Smarter home

Now let’s talk about your smart home. LG’s ThinkQ smartphone app was always a hub to control your connected LG appliances, which I actually use to turn off the TV in my room when I go to bed (yes, I can get too lazy sometimes and don’t feel like going for the remote). LG’s vision for the ThinkQ app is its biggest leap yet, where they are planning on opening up the platform and working with partners to integrate services into the app. 

One of the examples they mentioned is working with Nestle and Heinz so users can order their products directly from the app, which they can then scan and have their connected appliances, such as an oven, automatically configured with the right settings. 

Now bear with me here, I’m gonna start talking about the next big thing in laundry tech, and that’s the LG WashTower; a single unit stack of washer and dryer. That by itself isn’t so smart or new; a lot of people around the world stack their washers and dryers. However, what LG has done with this single unit is have a central control panel for both appliances in the middle of the tower. The idea is very simple; when you stack a dryer over a washer, the controls for that dryer are so high up and it’s not easy to reach for a lot of people. By having a single control panel for both of them, they’ll always be accessible. The WashTower uses AI technology to detect the kind of fabric as well as the load size to take all of the guesswork out of the formula and automatically select the right wash settings. Basically, LG knows that barely any of us (including myself) know what settings to use and what all the knobs and buttons do, so good guy LG is going to take care of that for you.

If you have your own preferred settings and you use them often, you can use the ThinkQ app to activate the Smart Learner feature and the WashTower will remember them for you. Furthermore, once the wash cycle is done, the washer will tell the dryer what’s the best drying cycle to use.

I never really thought that I would ever be interested in laundry tech, but I’ve got to give credit where credit is due, this is pretty interesting stuff.

Finally, more LG home appliances will also be getting access to the free LG Proactive Customer Care, which is a personalized customer support tool that can give you reports on the installation of the appliances (such as if a washer isn’t leveled on the ground), maintenance tips, monthly usage reports, as well as alerting you before an issue might happen due to the state of your appliances.

 


Outro

That’s about it for LG and what caught my eye. I genuinely like LG’s products and their approach to things. They’re always trying something new and innovating here and there. I was a huge fan of their V-series phones and got really bummed out when they stopped selling them in the region. My TV of choice has always been LG and I look forward to upgrading my TV to one of the new and feature-packed models.

So, what did you find special about these announcements? Did I miss something that you thought should have been covered?

Please reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram, my handle is @tmonther, and let me know your thoughts on the episode and on this show. You can also check out the rest of my episodes as well as the blog post of this episode that will most probably have pictures or videos of the things I’m talking about on the website wordsoftim.com.

Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll catch you in the next episode.