I did not have the pleasure of attending IFA 2018 so my first opportunity to see LG’s awe-inspiring Z9 88″ 8K OLED (OLED88Z9PUA) arrived with CES 2019. On “press day” which is the day before the doors open at the convention center, I had an opportunity to visit LG’s “VIP Suite” where I saw the latest in TV advancements from the company. While the Rollable OLED Signature R was doing its best to attract attention, there was not way to deny that the 88″ 8K OLED produced the most seamlessly “perfect” images of any TV I saw, that has a reasonable chance of shipping (to a select few lucky owners).
Thus far, one of the primary limitations of OLED when it comes to delivering a cinematic experience, has been size. Going to 88″ eradicates that concern, in many living rooms that’s big enough to do justice to film, where the director is thinking more about scale and scope of what they are putting on a big screen, rather than whether the theater has perfect black levels. But, of course, modern movies are made with digital cameras and CGI that render perfectly clean dark shadows and Blacks. This is in stark contrast to film based movies of the past, which never achieved true black and were plagued by film grain. So, for modern content it makes perfect sense to have a display that goes beyond what has traditionally been achievable in movie theaters. That’s why this is one of the most phenomenal TVs to exist; it absolutely nails color and contrast at a size where you can become immersed by a film’s cinematography.
And while some people think the 8K is overkill, the reality is that the same arguments made against it were made against 4K, using practically precisely the same words. Bleeding edge, state-of-the-art televisions will always cost a lot and contain technologies that might be ahead of their time. But in practice, it means you get a TV with an astonishingly powerful processor built in, and pixel density such that you’ll never have to worry about seeing a pixel grid again. And if you think that you cannot enjoy the detail that you find 8K from a normal viewing distance, that only means you need to rethink what a normal viewing distance actually is. For sports, TV, or a movie, that may be ten or more feet away from the screen. But, put an 8K still photo or 8K scan of artwork up on the screen, and I guarantee that you and anyone else who sees it will walk right up to it and scrutinize. Just like people do to paintings in museums.
Anyhow, it’s a given that LG will take its new flagship (and make no mistake, this is obviously a flagship TV) and put all the best new goodies in it. Full bandwidth HDMI 2.1, AI, and get this… The ability to create your own tone curve mapping. Indeed, Tyler Pruitt from SpectraCal stated to me that it is possible someday people create their own custom tone mapping curves for every video game they play. And the one thing that he assured me of is that nobody will ever again be able to say that they like this or that brand’s tone mapping better than LG’s. Because with an LG 2019 OLED (presumably including the 88″ 8K model) you’ll be able to dial in exactly the sort of tone mapping that you desire.
When you put it all together, it sure does seem like they’re describing a TV that’s close to perfect, at least for cinephiles who enjoy watching with the lights dim door turned off. You simply cannot beat the picture quality of an emissive display and the infinite blacks that they achieve, when watching with the lights out. And while they don’t approach the multi-thousand peak nit specs of LCDs, compared to projection, the highlights found in OLED are true HDR.
Taken all together, an obvious Best of CES 2019. This TV is listed as “coming soon” on LG’s website.