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LG is the first company to introduce an 8K OLED TV to the consumer market. As its model number indicates, the 88Z9 is an 88-inch behemoth—way too big to ship to reviewers. So, LG brought reviewers to the TV, which was set up in the company’s facilities in Santa Clara, CA. I was among a few journalists who got to spend some quality time with this beautiful set, which presents a truly stunning image.

To be clear, as TechHive has pointed out many times, the terms “4K” and “8K” are misnomers when applied to most consumer displays. True 4K and 8K displays, which are found in professional settings, have resolutions of 4096 x 2160 and 8192 x 4320 pixels respectively. As applied to consumer displays, however, these terms refer to resolutions of 3840 x 2160 and 7680×4320 pixels respectively. Nevertheless, the consumer-display industry has adopted the terms 4K and 8K to mean 3840 x 2160 and 7680 x 4320, so that’s the nomenclature I’ll use here. (Interestingly, Sony’s 4K consumer projectors are actually 4096 x 2160, but they are the only ones in the consumer market with that resolution.)

Features

The 88Z9 is the largest OLED TV commercially available today, with a screen that measures 88 inches diagonally and consumer-grade 8K resolution (7680 x 4320). That’s just over 33 million pixels, four times the number in a 4K display. It cannot be mounted on a wall; instead, it comes with a stand that includes some of the electronics and also serves as an alcove for other equipment or knick-knacks. Together, the TV and stand weigh in at 229.2 pounds and occupy a space measuring 77.2 x 57.3 x 11.0 inches (WxHxD).

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lg 88z9 lifestyle LG

If not for the couch to provide a sense of scale, the garganutan LG 88ZN would almost look small in this lifestyle shot.

Because there is virtually no native 8K content available to consumers, all 8K displays rely on sophisticated upscaling to display lower resolutions in 8K. In the 88Z9, that function is performed by LG’s second-generation alpha9 video processor. This AI processor uses machine-based deep learning and a database with millions of data points to perform upscaling and other video-processing chores.

The alpha9 Gen 2 processor is located in an outboard box that LG calls the 8K Upgrader. It supports 8K versions of the HEVC, AVI, and VP9 codecs, and it can be updated with new codecs as they become available. Currently, the only way to get native 8K content into the 88Z9 is via HDMI or USB. YouTube is the only streaming service that offers 8K content, but there is no app for the TV that supports it.

Speaking of HDMI, one of the most important features in this TV is its implementation of HDMI 2.1 at 48Gbps on all four HDMI inputs; in fact, it’s the first TV to be so equipped. Along with the ability to accept 8K content at up to 60 frames per second (whenever that becomes available), other new HDMI features include eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), ALLM (Automatic Low Latency Mode), and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate).

Those last two are most important for gaming. In fact, representatives from Nvidia were on hand to demonstrate that LG’s implementation of VRR is compatible with Nvidia’s version called G-Sync. Video games can use different refresh rates depending on the amount of motion on the screen—still scenes use a lower rate, while fast action uses a faster rate to keep the image looking sharp. This prevents smearing and tearing of fast-moving objects while rendering smooth motion. The 88Z9 can vary its refresh rate from 40- to 120Hz, and the gaming demo looked nice and crisp no matter how much action was going on.

Of course, the 88Z9 is fully compatible with high dynamic-range (HDR) content. It supports four HDR formats: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, and Technicolor. It does not support HDR10+, which differs from HDR10 only in its use of dynamic metadata. LG decided not to include HDR10+ because the TV offers a feature called Dynamic Tone Mapping, which ignores the HDR10 metadata and applies its own tone mapping based on its analysis of the content. According to LG, this looks indistinguishable from HDR10+. (You can disable Dynamic Tone Mapping, in which case the TV uses the static metadata in the content—correct or not, if it’s present at all—to render the image.)



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