LG beefs up new 4K TVs with content-streaming services

LG announces appliances with Netflix, Amazon, DirecTV, Showtime, Youtube and others to stream 4K content to its 2015 line of OLED TVs

It's becoming easier to buy 4K TVs, but content available at that resolution is still rare. While LG is making a big splash with new 4K OLED TVs, it is also trying to solve the content problem so the TVs are worth the price.

The company is introducing new 4K OLED and LCD TVs with flat and curved screens at International CES in Las Vegas this week. One 77-inch TV is a "flex" model that can be switched between flat and curved mode "simply with the touch of a button," said Scott Ahn, LG's chief technology officer, at a press conference.

The TVs will be equipped with the WebOS 2.0 operating system, designed for mobile devices but reworked for smart TVs. For easy access to high-quality 4K content, LG is working with partners like Netflix, Amazon, DirecTV, Showtime and Youtube, who will stream content to the TVs.

"As much as we're a fan of the hardware, we're fan of the content," said Tim Alessi, head for new product development at LG.

For example, Netflix has committed to improving the quality of its 4K video by implementing high-dynamic range (HDR) video technology starting this year. Streaming video will look prettier on LG TVs as a result.

Netflix is "doubling down" on LG TV on HDR for 4K video, said Greg Peters, chief streaming and partnerships officer, at the LG press conference.

"We're adding HDR -- it's not just more pixels, but better pixels," Peters said.

Amazon and YouTube will also stream TV shows and movies based on 4K resolution to LG TVs.

LG built WebOS 2.0 -- which was originally created with the Internet in mind -- and is tuning it for streaming services. The company realizes more and more video is going to stream over the cloud, so partnering with Web content providers makes sense. LG acquired WebOS from HP two years after the PC maker temporarily gave up on tablets and smartphones.

WebOS 2.0 itself has a redesigned interface to make TV usage easier. For example, it has a launcher bar that can be easily customized, and many features can be accessed through just one click on a remote control.

The OS is also 60 percent faster than its predecessor. LG's big-screen TVs will carry quad-core processors going ahead, which will speed up WebOS.

LG is introducing seven new 4K OLED TVs with screen sizes ranging from 55 to 77 inches. OLED TVs are considered sharper than conventional LED TVs. LG's TVs have new technology to display sharper images with stronger blacks and whites. That should lead to sharper colors and viewing angles that are not affected by ambient light, and in turn make the 4K movie-watching experience more enjoyable.

But LG's main TV rivals, Sony and Samsung, are having press conferences at CES later on Monday. They are also announcing 4K TVs with curved and straight screens, and are also expected to talk about 4K content.

LG is also looking beyond 4K. The company at CES is demonstrating a TV with 8K resolution, which is expected to succeed 4K as the next high-definition resolution standard. And with the problem of 4K content now being addressed, LG can move forward on production and delivery of 8K content.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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