5 key highlights from LG at CES 2019

Today's LG press conference was poised to repeat and reiterate what the company had revealed a few days prior: a new 88in 8K OLED and next-gen 4K OLED TVs.

But there was a trick up its sleeve in the form of the 'world's first' rollable OLED TV, which it pulled out with a cool confidence and which was met by an excited murmur from the crowd (although the biggest cheer was for LG's homebrew beer machine, natch).

The 8K-TV-trumper really was among the coolest things we've seen at CES today, but it wasn't the only talking point that came from LG's hour in the spotlight...

Roll up, roll up! 

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Despite the rumours of LG releasing a rollable TV this year, its unveiling of the rollable OLED TV was still a surprise - and a nice one at that! 

The world's first rollable OLED TV is officially called the Signature OLED TV R (the model name is '65R9', perhaps suggesting more sizes might come) and is what feels like the OLED TV breakthrough we've been waiting for since the flexible material first arrived in the industry. The evolution the brand's renowned bendable 2.57mm-thick Wallpaper TV. The – dare we say it – 'future of TV'.

The 65in TV can fully retract into its aluminium, wool-covered base, which is actually not only a foundation and case for the screen but also a 100-watt Dolby Atmos soundbar that we presume you'll be able to stream to when the screen is hidden. Plush. And pricey, we'd imagine. LG kept expectedly schtum about its asking price.

Everything at the pinnacle of LG TVs – webOS, Dolby Vision, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, its new Alpha 9 Gen 2 processor... – has rightfully been chucked into this flagship telly - everything except for a 8K resolution, that is.

8K is on the way

That's right, LG is now officially a player in the 8K TV game. But its first 8K sets (yes, plural) are the upright kind. The 88in Z9 8K OLED and 75in SM99 LCD and all of their 33 million pixels each were also big (albeit very expected) news, and opened the doors for LG to talk about its brand-new features for 2019 models. 

In addition to the second-generation processor of the one found in LG’s 2018 OLED TVs, as well as a new-and-improved 'deep learning' algorithm, the Z9 also features HDMI 2.1 sockets (for high frame rate at 120fps and eARC support), Amazon Alexa as well as Google Assistant voice control, and AirPlay 2 compatibility for one-touch wireless streaming of video and audio.

An 88in size is obviously a fine starting point in an immediate era where 8K TV is arguably superfluous due to a lack of content, although we can hope that smaller variants to rival the 65in Samsung QE65Q900R 8K QLED TV and fit in more living rooms will be on the horizon. Again, we'll have to hold tight for pricing.

4K OLED: less is more?

LG's 2018 OLED TVs comprised five ranges in total, starting with the B8 entry-level line, followed by C8, E8 and G8, and ending with the wafer-thin W8 "wallpaper" OLED. But the 2019 line-up (which replaces the '8' with a '9') looks to be four-strong, absent of the middle-sitting G series. 

LG hasn't confirmed the reason for its omission, however as it only comprised one (65in) model, and the difference between it and the W and E series was largely aesthetic and audio based, we can only imagine that LG decided to streamline and simplify its OLED offering.

LG hasn't officially announced its entry-level B9, however an LG spokesperson has told us it will be. And if it sticks to the familiar LG pattern, it'll come with an inferior processor to that in its siblings, i.e the first gen Alpha 9 processor found in the company's C8 to W8 2018 OLEDs. 

Upping the IQ of AI

Seemingly like everything else in Vegas this week (except for the casino slot machines), LG's 2019 TVs are getting smarter. LG claims to have once again improved Its picture processing algorithms, and its AI brand 'ThinQ' has also be ameliorated to offer users more suggestions about what to watch as well as facilitate more 'contextual' conversations.

The addition of Amazon Alexa to the voice assistant ecosystem, which until now has only comprised Google Assistant, backs LG's (and the industry's) commitment to voice control, and gives users the opportunity to hook it up to the other 20,000+ Alexa devices.

LG wants The Television to exercise an element of control over your smart home too - and to that end its forthcoming 2019 models also introduce a 'Home Dashboard', a hub-type interface that can act as the nucleus for all Alexa, Google and ThinQ devices.

Boom! shake-shake-shake the room

Just a few months ago we awarded LG's Meridian-tuned PK7 XBOOM Bluetooth speaker a favourable four-star review for its big, powerful sound, which you'd quite frankly expect from a product that looks akin to those in the picture above.

And it's a quality LG is sticking with for its growing XBOOM wireless speaker family. Among the new models for 2019, the XBOOM OL100 speaker delivers an impressive 2,000-watt output, with a 'Blast Horn' developed to improve high-frequency and bass performance.

There's a Meridian Mode, developed in collaboration with the renowned British hi-fi company Meridian Audio, aptX HD connectivity with a multi-room link function, and a – gulp – karaoke feature that suppress vocals on 'almost any' track so that yours can takeover.

Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.