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LG bets on webOS and a quantum-dot picture to help its new 4K TVs stand out

LG bets on webOS and a quantum-dot picture to help its new 4K TVs stand out

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Last year, the most notable thing about LG's TVs was the software running on them: webOS. LG had just picked up the corpse of the former mobile operating system and repurposed it for the living room. The resulting user interface was a step above what other TV manufacturers had on offer at CES 2014. It was refreshing and fast, with clear traces of the software that many former Palm users still miss today. As for the TVs themselves, they were okay — but didn't do much to stand out from a crowded field including Sony, Samsung, and Vizio. Now LG's back with a 2015 lineup that's all about 4K and, if you believe the company, improvements to picture quality.

Prepare for another 4K TV rush

LG has already rolled out a few 4K TV models this year — led by some stunning OLED models. (Even the 1080p OLED panels are worth a look if you've got the budget.) Ahead of CES, the company is announcing more additions to its lineup. All told, the 2015 LG 4K TV roster will include eight different lines: UC9, UB9800 (both previously revealed), UF9500, UF9400, UF8500, UF7700, UF6800 and UF6700. Those are just meaningless model numbers, though. As for what's inside, LG is talking up its choice to use Quantum Dot displays, which the company claims will produce "high color accuracy along" and a 30 percent jump in color gamut. It also allows the new sets to take on a thinner, OLED-like footprint. Samsung also plans to put similar technology in upcoming 4K sets. Here are the benefits, at least according to LG:

The technology works by harnessing nano crystals that range in size from two to 10 nanometres. Each dot emits a different colour depending on its size. By adding a film of quantum dots in front of the LCD backlight, picture colour reproduction rate and overall brightness are significantly improved

Since the nano-sized dots emit extraordinarily vivid colours, quantum dot technology is able to enhance the already stunning capabilities of LG’s 4K ULTRA HD In-Plane Switching (IPS) displays. The colour reproduction rate in LG’s IPS panels, which offers high colour accuracy and extra-wide viewing angles, is increased with the addition of the quantum dot film by more than 30 percent compared with conventional LCD/LED TVs.

The TVs are equipped with front-firing speakers, and the premium UF9500 line has what LG refers to as an "Auditorium Stand" designed to reflect sound. Built-in TV speakers are notoriously bad, so we'll need to wait until CES to get a sense of the audio these things pump out. Same goes for the upscaling, which LG claims will make 1080p content take on a "near 4K" level of picture quality. And yes, there are improvements to webOS on the TV, too. Startup times are faster and you can customize the app launcher bar to your own liking. Aside from some other small fixes and improved support for external devices, that's about it. This is a TV operating system we're talking about now, remember.

Pricing and availability details for most of these TV sets will apparently need to wait, as LG isn't sharing them just yet. Get ready for a barrage of TV announcements and companies telling you how badly you need 4K as we head into CES; maybe this will be the year they finally make a good case.