The situation needs to be clarified immediately. Artificial intelligence, namely hardware and software with elements of machine learning, began to be installed in OLED TVs of the current ninth generation, to which our today’s hero of the article belongs.
But the history of the development of mass-produced OLED TVs lasts longer than nine – it is already 12 years old! By the standards of video and computer technology, this is a whole era, although many people think that such devices have appeared quite recently. Over a similar period, other technologies usually go from the stage of somehow working prototypes to more or less showing serial devices, which, to put it mildly, have much more to develop.
But OLED is different. If today you look even at the very first models and even more so the devices that followed them, you will involuntarily come to the conclusion that they worked excellently from the beginning. And, let’s be honest, they show great by modern standards. This happened because the technology itself, with the thinnest panels in which the pixels themselves glow, was initially extremely successful.
The only problem is that it very quickly reached its limits. The contrast almost immediately became infinite with absolute black color, there were no complaints about saturation either, but brightness … It is impossible to increase it head-on – the service life of the panel will suffer. So in order to evolve visually, but to increase the brightness, LG has improved panel control, making TVs smarter. And now she has endowed them with artificial intelligence.
It is not so easy to guess about its presence in LG OLED55E9. Externally, the TV does not really stand out against the background of its predecessors. It is not thinner, the frame around the perimeter of the screen is no less, only the position of the table stand has changed its position in comparison with the previous generation. In general, the design has changed little, and this is good, because it is already so beautiful that it has been awarded a couple of prestigious awards.
The OLED panel is the same, thin, with no protective glass and no polarizing layer to create 3D images, because the demand for this feature has dropped to near zero. But the control electronics have really changed. A new processor is installed in 2019 TVs – Alfa 9 Gen 2. It is not much more powerful, but it is equipped with significantly more memory for using the same artificial intelligence, the essence of which is to use not a pair, but thousands of patterns for adaptive image and sound processing, which stored in the TV’s memory.
The most noticeable change for the user is the control interface. The new devices still use WebOS, but already version 4.5, in which the main page and the menu for connecting with other devices in the local network have undergone the greatest changes, through which you can now organize a kind of “smart home”.
It was not possible to check its operation – in the network you need to have an equally smart refrigerator, climate and other household appliances from LG, and they are not very cheap, but given the willingness of LG TVs to work with Apple applications, the prospects are very interesting. For example, using the Magic Remote as a microphone, you can turn on appliances around the house by voice, and check its status through the interface on the TV. You can connect and much more – AirPlay 2 is natively supported. In general, here the transition from a simple Smart TV to a higher intelligence is obvious.
The transition to another level in the new devices is expressed in another connection – now they officially use HDMI 2.1 interfaces. It was possible to check their advantages only partially. The TV can handle 12-bit 4K video from a player with full Dolby Vision support without any problems. Can display 10-bit 4K video at up to 120Hz.
Automatic frequency change is also supported when working with consoles and PCs when the frequency changes in the game – this is the same called variable frequency, which is often written as an advantage of HDMI 2.1. At the same time, full synchronization with the frequency in the game does not occur: this is impossible even in professional monitors, but the effect on the screen is still better, since the simplest frame interpolation does not occur, as before. In short, the large bandwidth of the new interface is more likely a reserve for the future, because the software will be updated more than once.
Artificial intelligence manifests itself most vividly when playing video with a built-in media player. He himself has changed quite a lot. The readability of the files has remained the same, that is, totally omnivorous – all formats are supported except for disk images in ISO, and something new has appeared, but more on that below. It’s a pity, but switching titles and audio tracks did not make it more convenient: they do not change with direct buttons, as before, but through activating a special menu, and this is somewhat annoying, since you have to do this every time – for some reason, releasers on trackers do not set them by default what you want. But it doesn’t really matter.
The main thing is the picture and sound. First, about the sound. At first glance, you will never think that it is being processed by artificial intelligence. Everything is smooth and habitually good – as it seems, no fiction. Understanding comes if you run the same video on an older TV – you immediately notice volume changes in films from quiet speech to explosions / shootings and other effects, when speech is not heard, and the effects stand out unpleasantly, and you want to constantly adjust the volume. The new device does not have this.
It’s different with video. Processing is not disabled, and the TV always strives to improve the picture. When watching normal, but not very compressed, without frank artifacts, Full HD video – even TV broadcasts, BD Rip or YouTube capture – everything looks smooth, clear, smooth and also without fiction. Only after comparing with old models you notice that the upscaling is much more accurate and accurate, and minor flaws do not stick out, but are hidden.
But if you play videos with a lot of grain – for example, as in old movies – the processing may not always be stable. That is, everything is fine for most of the film, but sometimes the TV confuses grain with other surfaces.
Tellingly, this also happens on 4K video, which is not subjected to any upscaling – it is not output in its pure form without processing. But on the other hand, the built-in player fully supports both the declared Dolby Vision and HDR10 +, and not only the core of the HDR10 signal in these video files – that is, it reproduces material with normal brightness, and not too dark, like most competitors and external players.
What pleases in this aspect is that with firmware updates the TV will “learn” and improve. Moreover, judging by the experience of using other devices, a tangible increase in quality will most likely occur in a couple of months. After all, machine intelligence, albeit artificial, like a child, does not immediately become a genius, but develops gradually. And this is our new technological reality. Unusual, but extremely entertaining.
When displaying test tables and blank fields, artificial intelligence does not behave very adequately. He tries to see and identify a certain image in them. As a result, for example, on a completely black screen, it adds a little backlight, and the black level eventually becomes higher – 0.66 cd / m2. When displaying a white field, it maximally lowers the brightness – 124 cd / m2. And with a decrease in the area of a white circle or square on a black background, it increases the brightness. With 1/9 of the “exposure” area – up to 265 cd / m2. At 1/16 – up to 295 cd / m2. In general, the maximum contrast is shown only in special cases.
The color gamut is slightly larger than DCI. That is, real HDR video displays close to the optimum.
The color balance even with the “warmest” color temperature adjustment value W50 in the menu shows the prevalence of the blue component.
Accordingly, the color temperature is far from the normal 6500K and is equal to 7925K practically over the entire range.
With the acquisition of artificial intelligence, this OLED TV has received a lot of integration possibilities, but in terms of picture processing it has become more distinctive.