As is the case with most TV makers, LG's TVs options for 2019 are just around the corner and now it’s clear the company’s OLED solutions are going to be powered by the second-generation Alpha 9 intelligent processor. This internal upgrade will provide consumers with a number of generation-over-generation improvements, as well as advanced supports, including 120 frames per second (fps) support.
According to LG, the new Alpha 9 processor directly impacts on the quality of the viewing experience by helping to create “more true-to-life” images than ever before. This was further defined as offering richer colors, as well as greater sharpness and depth. All of which is in part made possible by the new processor’s ability to reduce noise better than before with the Alpha 9 making use of what LG refers to as “quad-step” process, compared to the dual-step processes typically employed today. Of course, improved colors, sharpness and depth are examples of the more obvious improvements that will be in effect as LG also highlights how the new processor employs intelligence-based strengths to further smooth out the experience. This not only applies to the noise reduction, but also the color mapping, and just about every other aspect of the AI-infused experience LG is becoming known for.
LG OLED TVs getting better?
LG’s OLED TVs are among the highest rated and the quality of the picture has therefore always been one of the main selling points. While many will automatically associate this with the actual display, with TVs being smart TVs nowadays they are more akin to a computer than an actual traditional TV set, and in no small part due to the processing power hidden behind the display. Which is where the new Alpha 9 processor comes in, as this in tandem with the other technologies helps to fine-tune and improve the quality of the end product overall.
This means LG is also banking on utilizing aspects like the Alpha 9 as additional selling points unique to its TV portfolio. To the point where LG would presumably want consumers who are in the market for a new TV in 2019 to not only be looking for “OLED,” but also the Alpha 9 processor. However, it remains to be seen how well the touted supports well convert to real-world benefits. Take the 120fps (or “HFR” as it’s usually referred to now) for example. There’s very little content available at this frame rate with most services resigned to using 60fps. So this is an example of how the technology being showcased here is more for technology’s sake than something that will commonly be accessible by the user when they purchase one of these TVs. Yes, that might change in the future, and at that point it will mean even better viewing experiences and especially when it comes to gaming and sports, but in terms of buying now, it offers little benefit. Even in situations where you are able to make use of HFR, you might find this (negatively) impacts the experience in other ways, such as the resolution.
This all sounds too familiar
The timing of LG’s recent Alpha 9 (Gen 2) announcement is hardly a coincidence as while this year is now coming to an end, the start of the year always kicks off with a bang thanks to the annual CES event which takes place in January in Las Vegas. This event is one where company’s tend to showcase a variety of home-based solutions including TV-related technologies, and it seems this is likely to be the big selling point when it comes to LG’s attendance at the event. Therefore, it should be expected that when LG takes to the stage in January and announces the first of its new OLED TVs for the year ahead, the company will place a much greater focus on the Alpha 9 processor than anything else. Driving home how the smarts of an LG OLED TV are now even smarter.
To those who follow LG TV news regularly, this will feel a little too familiar and even a repeat of 2018, as the last few months have been full of LG announcements (which again started with CES 2018) on its latest OLED TVs, and how they are powered by the Alpha 9 processor, and offer more intelligence-based improvements, and advanced supports - including support for HFR. So if you are now wondering what is actually the difference between the 2018 and 2019 announcements, then it’s probably better to view the second-generation A9 processor as more of a refinement process, than an evolutionary one.
So should you hold out for LG’s 2019 OLED TVs?
If you are currently in the market for a new TV, are considering going the OLED route, and especially through LG’s more premium options, then regardless of the marketing talk you still might be best holding out to see what the new year and the new Alpha 9 processor brings. As, at the very worse, holding out until these TVs will likely see the current crop of OLED TVs come down in price. So regardless of whether you buy into the marketing talk here, it might still be worth waiting just to capitalize on greater savings with what will be TV sets that are powered by the then-dated Alpha 9 processor. The first-generation Alpha 9 will still offer the same primary benefits as the second-generation model with probably no major difference at the end user level when taken into context of the wider TV market and content support.
Can LG’s TV division save its mobile business?
Interestingly, LG announced the second-generation Alpha 9 processor within hours of the company also announcing a shake-up to the management structure for its mobile division. That announcement confirmed the company’s struggling phone business will now fall under the purview of Brian Kwon who LG publicly outs as the person behind the success of LG’s home entertainment business - its TV business. With LG making the suggestion Kwon will look to turnaround LG’s mobile business in much the same way as the TV business. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen, but it’s clear now that LG’s TV division is achieving heights the mobile division can only dream of at the moment.