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LG introduces new TV lineup with better AI, new gaming features, and more
by João Carrasqueira
With this year's CES starting today, LG has unveiled its lineup of premium TVs for 2021. The company is introducing new models featuring new OLED evo technology - presumably based on the technology from sister company LG Display -, the new QNED models announced in December, and new additions to the NanoCell family.
OLED evo will be on the new LG G1 series, but there are new OLED models in the C1 and Z1 series, too. The C1 series offers the biggest variety of sizes, starting from a 48-inch model up to an 83-inch panel, which is a new size option for the lineup.
Inside the new TVs, LG is packing the new α9 Gen 4 AI processor, which improves the TVs' performance along with offering better image and sound. The new processor has a feature called AI Picture Pro, which can recognize things like faces and bodies (only on 8K models), as well as distinguish foreground and background objects, processing them individually to make them "more three-dimensional". Similarly, AI Sound Pro is also included, and it brings new features such as virtual 5.1.2 surround sound and Auto Volume Leveling, which keeps sound levels consistent as users switch between different input sources on the TV. This processor is inside all the new OLED models, as well as the QNED99 and QNED95 models and the NanoCell NANO99 and NANO95 models.
The new models also come with some gaming features, like Game Optimizer, which can be used to manage capabilities such as G-Sync, FreeSync, and Variable Refresh Rate. It can also automatically adjust picture settings depending on the type of game being played. OLED models also feature a 1 millisecond response time, low input lag, and four HDMI 2.1 ports to enable all the features of the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft. In fact, HDMI 2.1 support is being added to more of LG's TVs this year, including eARC and automatic low latency mode.
LG is also launching new soundbars to go along with its new TV models, which are specifically designed to be paired with the new OLED models. There's also a new Gallery Stand mount that lets TVs be mounted anywhere for additional interior planning options.
By Usman Khan Lodhi
Roku announces it's buying now-defunct Quibi's shows
by Usman Khan Lodhi
Roku is buying Quibi's library of content, the firm announced today. Shows produced by the now-defunct service will be available for free through the Roku Channel sometime this year. It is not known yet when these shows will exactly arrive, and Roku did not disclose how much it paid for the content. The Wall Street Journal reported that Roku paid "significantly less" than $100 million to acquire Quibi's shows.
Despite the failure of Quibi, its content was star-studded, as shown in the announcement stating that acquired content will feature "Idris Elba, Kevin Hart, Liam Hemsworth, Anna Kendrick, Nicole Richie, Chrissy Teigen, Lena Waithe, and many others.” According to the deal, more than 75 shows will be added to The Roku Channel.
Acquiring Quibi's content will drive more viewers to Roku's platform and potentially increase its ad revenue. In the streaming industry, having original or exclusive content is vital to a platform's growth. Shows being added to The Roku Channel include #FreeRayshawn, Chrissy’s Court, Die Hart, Dummy, Flipped, Most Dangerous Game, Punk’d, Reno 911!, Survive, and more.
Samsung's upcoming QLED TVs will feature HDR10+ Adaptive support
by João Carrasqueira
Samsung has been one of the biggest supporters of the HDR10 standard and its iterations with its TVs and phones, being one of the first to add support for new features. Today, the Korean giant announced that its upcoming lineup of QLED TVs, likely to be announced at CES 2021, will support the new HDR10+ Adaptive feature.
HDR10+ is an improvement on HDR10 which allows for dynamic metadata to be used, making it so that things like tone mapping, brightness, and so on can be adjusted on a scene-by-scene basis. However, HDR10+ content is usually best enjoyed in dimly lit environments, which means you won't always get the best experience depending on where you're trying to watch content.
HDR10+ Adaptive means TVs can adapt the HDR10+ content so it can be enjoyed in different lighting conditions. Samsung is also enabling support for Filmmaker mode with HDR10+ Adaptive content, and the first service to support it is Amazon Prime Video, which is often first to support new HDR features on Samsung TVs.
There's no indication that this feature is coming to previous generations of Samsung TVs, so you may have to buy one of the upcoming models if you're interested in it.
Samsung announces its first standalone 110-inch MicroLED TV
by João Carrasqueira
Samsung has announced the launch of its first standalone MicroLED TV in South Korea, coming in at a massive 110-inch display size. MicroLED has been the focus of some display developments in recent years, and Samsung made its first big splash in that space at CES 2018 with the "The Wall". This was a 146-inch TV, but because it was modular, it required professional installation.
The new 110-inch MicroLED is the first time Samsung is selling a MicroLED TV in a typical TV form factor that users can use out of the box. The company says that it was previously impossible to create a display of this size to be installed normally - which is considered small for a MicroLED - by consumers, but it developed a "cutting-edge" surface mount technology and a new production process inspired by its semiconductor business. Thus, manufacturing, delivery, and installation of the TVs are easier now, with even smaller models being possible in the future.
Similar to the modular panel from before, the new MicroLED TV has virtually no bezels around the display, touting a 99.99% screen-to-body ratio. It offers 4K resolution, and it covers 100% of DCI and Adobe RGB color spaces, meaning you should get pretty high-fidelity colors from the panel.
Like other MicroLED panels, the pixels are self-emitting, meaning they create their own light and can be turned off when they're meant to be black, resulting in true blacks. What's more, MicroLEDs are made of inorganic materials that promise a lifespan of up to 100,000 hours, which is more than 11 years.
Of course, the TV also comes with other high-end features you'd expect, with 5.1 channel sound built-in, plus features like Object Tracking Sound Pro, which aims to provide a more realistic surround sound experience.
Not much more is known about the 110-inch MicroLED TV, which is expected to go on sale in the first quarter of 2021.
By Rich Woods
2020 Holiday Gift Guide: Streaming solutions
by Rich Woods
Every year, we like to write up some holiday gift guides for those that like to get people some device as a gift, but don't quite know what to get. One of my favorite topics is set-top boxes; you know, those little streaming devices that let you play Netflix, Hulu, and a lot more. The reason is that for so many people, streaming devices are the perfect gift.
There are so many people that only think to upgrade one component of their entertainment system. I can't tell you how many people I see spend a couple thousand dollars on a brand-new LG OLED or Samsung QLED 4K UHD TV, but they're still using their third-generation Apple TV or original Amazon Fire TV Stick. Many people just don't stop to think that they're limiting their experience by using an old device.
It's a meaningful upgrade in our experience too. We spend a lot of our time in front of TVs, whether it's for binging a new show on Netflix or watching movies. Going from something that only supports FHD to something that supports UHD and HDR formats like Dolby Vision can really change the experience. And it's not even an expensive gift.
Amazon Fire TV
If you're buying for someone that's invested in Amazon's ecosystem, the Fire TV is the way to go. What's great about them is that Amazon has some solid deals on its own hardware throughout the holiday season. There are four key products here: Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Stick, and Fire TV Stick Lite.
The Fire TV Cube is the best that Amazon has to offer. It's faster than the quad-core processors in the Fire TV Sticks with its hexa-core chipset, and it has an Ethernet port for wired internet speeds. Another key feature is far-field voice microphones for Alexa support. It's normally $119.99, but right now, it's $79.99.
The Fire TV Stick 4K has the same picture quality as the Fire TV Cube, meaning 4K resolution support along with HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and more HDR support. It comes with an Alexa voice remote. Normally $49.99, this product is just $29.99.
Next, we have the FHD lineup, which is the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV Stick light. The Fire TV stick is normally $39.99 and it's marked down to $27.99, so you should probably just spend the extra $2 for 4K and Dolby Vision support. Finally, normally $29.99, the Fire TV Stick Lite is $17.99.
Fire TV Cube Fire TV Stick 4K Fire TV Stick Fire TV Stick Lite Google Chromecast
Google's Chromecast was always a product that I had trouble recommending. The whole idea was supposed to be a new take on a streaming device. Instead of a remote control, you cast content from your smartphone to the device, also controlling it with your phone. It was interesting, but not always practical.
The new Chromecast is more traditional though. It comes with an actual operating system, Google TV, which will let you run all of your apps like Netflix, Hulu, and so on. It also comes with a proper remote control. And another thing, you don't need to spend extra money on some "Ultra" variant to get 4K support. The new Chromecast supports 4K resolution, and HDR formats like Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+.
If you want to check it out on the Google Store, you can find it here.
The nice thing about Roku is that it's platform-agnostic. Amazon's Fire TV is built around Amazon Prime subscription content and on-demand content. Apple TV is built around iTunes. Roku isn't built around any service, although it does have a few of its own now. Roku was also the first to make a streaming set-top box back in the day.
These days, it makes a ton of products, and you can check out the full list here. At the top of the lineup is the Roku Ultra, which supports 4K, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and wired internet. Usually $99.99, it's on sale for $69.99. Roku also has the Streambar and Smart Soundbar, which add audio quality to the mix along with 4K HDR support.
There are some other things that are nice about Roku too, such as AirPlay support if you don't want to go all-in on an Apple TV. There's also a headphone jack in the remote control, so you can watch TV without waking people up. Just like Amazon, Roku also has its own range of inexpensive streaming sticks.
Roku Ultra ($69, usually $99.99) Roku Streambar (99.99, usually $129.99) Roku Smart Soundbar ($179.99) Apple TV
Apple TV is great if you're invested in Apple's ecosystem, and the nice thing about iTunes is that Apple doesn't charge extra for 4K content. Apple has two models, the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K. The difference is pretty self-explanatory. The only problem is that the Apple TV 4K is already three years old, and the Apple TV HD is over five years old.
If you want to check these out, you can find them here:
Apple TV 4K ($179) Apple TV HD ($149) As an Amazon Associate, Neowin may earn commission from qualifying purchases.