As well as the roll up (roll up) LG Signature OLED TV R, LG has also debuted the Z9 8K OLED TV here at CES 2019. It’ll launch later this year. There isn’t really a market for 8K TVs yet, but that hasn’t stopped other manufacturers joining the party that Samsung started last year with the Q900.

However, while Sony has stuck with LCD for its 8K Master Series ZG9, LG has matched Samsung in plumping for OLED for 8K. Now, we saw this panel as a prototype on LG’s IFA 2018 stand in Berlin last September, so we have marvelled at the display before.

As you know, there’s hardly any native 8K content freely available at the moment (OK, so there’s a bit on YouTube) so again the story is around upscaling.

Design

  • Cabinet-style stand
  • Super-thin display
  • Is this the world's first? 

The Z9 features the same cabinet-style stand as the rollable LG Signature OLED TV R which we’ve looked at elsewhere. It’s super, super thin as you can see although we’ve not been able to get hold of precise tech specs so far to give you full measurements.

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The TV is available in a single size at present – 88 inches – LG has also announced several other OLED series, the W9, E9 and C9 but they are all understandably 4K TVs rather than 8K.

Coincidentally, LG is also claiming the “world’s first” moniker for the Z9. That’s because Sony’s 8K sets are LCD, while Samsung hasn’t plumped for OLED at all, instead sticking with its QLED technology so far.

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Google Assistant is supported as with last year’s TVs, while Amazon Alexa is now coming to all of LG’s 2019 TVs as well (though it doesn’t seem like it’ll be backwards compatible). LG says this is enabled through the Amazon Prime Video button on the Magic Remote.

Picture

  • Second-generation Alpha 9 picture processing
  • Picture still looked stunning under bright light
  • HDMI 2.1 on board with HFR

The Z9 features LG's second-generation Alpha 9 processor which can upscale lower resolution content to 8K. LG is talking up the HDR prowess of the Alpha 9 which is able to adjust he brightness to produce top-quality HDR even in brightly-lit rooms, likewise by fine-tuning Dolby Vision content (the TV supports Dolby Vision and Atmos). The Z9 features an ambient light Sensor to measure light levels in the room itself.

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As we mentioned, we have seen this 88-inch panel in action before and it was interesting that the situation we’d seen it in previously was vastly different to what you see here; a darkened surround at the side of LG’s IFA stand. Here the sets were plonked directly in the middle of the setup, under powerful show lighting. Certainly, it stood up extremely well in these conditions and colours still looked incredible.

As always with TV demonstrations, you have to take the picture quality with a pinch of salt because manufacturers always use curated high-quality content.

Coincidentally, the second-generation Alpha 9 processor also powers LG’s 4K W9, E9 and C9 OLED TVs as well as the 2019 75-inch 8K LCD and 4K LCD TVs, too.

The TV also incorporates HDMI 2.1 across all ports - Sony and Samsung also confirmed they will be incorporating the technology within their 8K sets. This enables the fast transfer of information - 48 gigabits per second or Gbps – required for full-fat 8K images.

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The HDMI 2.1 tech also features an improved form of the Audio Return Channel (ARC) tech, called eARC, or enhanced ARC as well as VRR, or Variable Refresh Rate for gaming. Additionally, LG says its 2019 TVs will also support HFR, or High Frame Rate for smooth, clear motion at 120fps.  

Although these features are all incorporated in LG’s new 2019 sets, it’s a little confusing that manufacturers don’t have to support everything in HDMI 2.1 to be able to say its TVs have that technology.

You will, inevitably, need new cables to take advantage of HDMI 2.1 eventually, but naturally that relies on having HDMI 2.1 source equipment – which there isn’t any at the moment. The current HDMI 2.0 standard supports 4K at up to 60fps – it supports 18Gbps.

The Z9 also features virtual 5.1 surround sound by upmixing the two channel audio.

First Impressions

There isn’t really a market for 8K TVs as yet, but starting gun has fired on the race to be the greatest and best in 8K. And with Samsung getting the jump on everybody last year, others had to follow. 

But LG has got a bit of a jump on Sony and Samsung in that this is the "world's first" OLED 8K set. The difference is that Samsung is committed to its QLED tech for now and hasn't even announced OLED 4K sets. That situation is unlikely to change in the short term. 

LG's Z9 will be very expensive when it launches later this year. Given that its 77-inch OLED TV is currently available on Amazon US for $5,700, you can only imagine the cost of the Z9.