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LG’s new 4K OLED and Super UHD TVs add Google Assistant, Alexa, and an even better picture

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Design takes a back seat to AI and new software features

After commercially launching its wallpaper OLED TV at least year’s CES, LG’s 2018 showing was bound to be a little less flashy. And yes, the TVs themselves look largely similar to their 2017 predecessors. The best one you can buy is still the Signature “wallpaper” TV that mounts to your wall with most of its guts in a soundbar that sits beneath the ultra-thin screen.

But although design hasn’t seen any real overhaul, LG has made significant refinements to image processing and is putting a big focus on its ThinQ artificial intelligence platform. In fact, “AI” is now part of the branding for all of these 2018 TVs. To augment its own AI capabilities, LG is also adding both Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa to its latest 4K OLED and Super UHD LCD TV lineup.

LG’s 2018 OLED TVs will support both Google Assistant and (in some countries) Amazon Alexa.

Also new to the 2018 LG lineup is support for high frame rates (HFR) up to 120fps. However, the TVs themselves lack HDMI 2.1, which is necessary to receive those higher frame rates from external devices. So you’ll be limited to built-in streaming apps for HFR content. That’s a tad disappointing, but this whole point is a bit moot for now since there’s not much 120fps content in existence on Netflix or Prime Video.

The biggest changes to LG’s new TVs are in the software and image processing. A new Alpha 9 processor in the high-end models should deliver even more accurate color and “enhanced image rendering.” It also introduces four-step noise reduction and banding elimination. During a preview of the new products, LG made a direct comparison with Sony’s impressive OLED TV from last year, which used a panel from LG Display but featured the company’s own image processing. This time around, LG is confident it has surpassed what Sony accomplished.

WebOS is still the underlying operating system here, with the same colorful icons and main menu of streaming apps. But LG is making a big deal about its ThinQ AI platform and the addition of support for “hundreds” of voice commands. There aren’t any always-listening mics in these TVs or the remote. Instead, you press the microphone button and hold while speaking.

Many of the most common asks — checking the weather, sports scores, and so on — will bring up results from Google Assistant (complete with the usual Assistant animation). You can also control smart home devices with Assistant.

But not everything runs through Assistant; when I said “play videos from The Verge on YouTube,” it seemed to bring up a list populated by LG’s own ThinQ software. The experience felt a little split in some instances during my early time with a demo TV.

Voice commands are a major focus of LG’s 2018 TV lineup.

Voice commands offer deep control over the TV’s settings, allowing you to make adjustments, switch between picture modes, and so on. (Speaking of which, LG says that nearly all of the picture modes allow for deep calibration — including HDR and gaming modes.)

The Google Assistant integration means you’ll be able to control the TV from a nearby Google Home, and the same applies to Amazon Echo since there’s an Alexa skill available. You just won’t get any of the on-screen visual results when controlling the TV through Alexa.

The new LG E8 OLED features a “picture on glass” design thanks to a transparent base that the stand attaches to.

The step-down from the “LG AI Signature” OLED TV (aka the Wallpaper TV) is the E8 OLED, which features a new “picture on glass” design. That effect is the result of a transparent base that makes it look like the TV screen is floating above its metal stand. The E8 gets the same, top-end processing as the Signature model. Note, however, that the entry-level B8 OLED and Super UHD TVs all use a different processor: the Alpha 7.

LG is also giving its Super UHD LCD 4K TVs a nice upgrade with a move to full-array backlighting. This means that individual areas of the backlight can light up (or dim) to create greater contrast. If you’re not going OLED, full-array backlighting is essential when looking for a quality LED set, so it’s great to see LG making this improvement.

LG’s 2018 Super UHD LCD 4K TVs feature full-array backlighting for much better contrast and picture.

All of LG’s 2018 lineup support a wide array of HDR formats including Dolby Vision, HDR10, Advanced HDR, Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), plus LG’s own proprietary HLG Pro and HDR10 Pro enhancements. Even when viewing HDR10 content, LG claims that its proprietary algorithms dynamically manage brightness and contrast frame by frame for an end result that is closer in line with Dolby Vision. Dolby Atmos audio is also offered on both the OLED and Super UHD models.

As usual, pricing and availability aren’t being announced here at CES. But the full lineup of LG’s 2018 TV line is included below.

LG SIGNATURE AI OLED TV Picture-on-Wall W8 Series

77-inch class (76.7-inches diagonal) model 77W8

65-inch class (64.5-inches diagonal) model 65W8

LG AI OLED TV C8 Series

65-inch class (64.5-inches diagonal) model 65C8

55-inch class (54.6-inches diagonal) model 55C8

LG AI OLED TV Picture-on-Glass E8 Series

65-inch class (64.5-inches diagonal) model 65E8

55-inch class (54.6-inches diagonal) model 55E8

LG AI OLED TV B8 Series

65-inch class (64.5-inches diagonal) model 65B8

55-inch class (54.6-inches diagonal) model 55B8

LG SUPER UHD TV Lineup

LG AI SUPER UHD TV SK9500

65-inch class (64.5-inches diagonal) model 65SK950055-inch class (54.6-inches diagonal) model 55SK9500

LG AI SUPER UHD TV SK8000

75-inch class (74.5-inches diagonal) model 75SK800

65-inch class (64.5-inches diagonal) model 65SK8000

55-inch class (54.6-inches diagonal) model 55SK8000

LG AI SUPER UHD TV SK9000

65-inch class (64.5-inches diagonal) model 65SK9000

55-inch class (54.6-inches diagonal) model 55SK9000