Budget TV shoppers look elsewhere. But One Percenters, or just dreamers, may be excited to see TV maker LG's new lineup of 4K (also know as Ultra HD) LED LCD TVs. While LG hasn't named a price (continuing the practice from its other CES TV announcements), the giant screen sizes are likely to command giant prices. In relative terms, these sets could actually be considered small compared to the 105-inch, curved 4K LCD, with an ultrawide Cinemascope-style screen that LG announced two weeks ago.
LG's UB9800 series 4K ULTRA HD TV lineup will feature 65-, 79-, 84- and 98-inch screens, tricked out with the latest 4K tech goodies. Chief among them is support for new High Efficiency Video Coding, also known as HEVC or H.265. The video compression technology is shaping up as a standard for delivering 4K TV's 3840 x 2160 resolution at a bandwidth that won't swamp cable, satellite or Internet video networks. In fact, Netflix plans to use the technology when it starts 4K streaming later this year. (Though Google is aiming to challenge HEVC with it's new technology, VP9, which YouTube and several TV makers, such as Panasonic, Samsung and Sony, plan to use use.)
MORE: What Is 4K TV?
Will 4K upscaling do the trick?
The other big — though hard to parse — news is LG's claim that it will be able to better upscale lower-resolution video (such as 720p, 1080i and 1080p) to look good on its 4K screens. It will do this using its new video processor, the Tru-ULTRA HD Engine Pro, equipped with a new version of what it calls its Super Resolution Algorithm. The proof will be in the viewing, though, which will come next week at the CES tech convention is Las Vegas.
Given the dearth of true 4K/UHD content, good upscaling is essential for the new TVs to be useable. Upscaling may sound like a cheat. But it was very useful for the first few generations of HDTVs, which took 480p DVDs and 480i (alternating, interlaced 240-line frame) TV broadcasts up to 720p and even 1080p — making those high-resolution screens useful when there was a dearth of HD content. An upscaling algorithm analyzes the video to guess at and add in extra details, effectively showing higher resolution images on the screen than what is actually going into the TV.
But upscaling is still the Wild West, with few examples to go by or standards to measure it by. THX has set up a quality certification program for 4K/UHD TVs, which includes upscaling, but so far only a few models, such as ones from Panasonic and Sharp, have been certified.
These LCDs are not LG's only new 4K models. It announced a new lineup of OLED TVs, including ones with UHD resolution, a few days ago. Those TVs will also be on display in Vegas.