If there’s one thing that can be relied upon to steal the show at CES year after year, it’s TVs. The technology powering the biggest screens in our homes might not move as quickly as it does for smartphones or smart home gadgets, but their sheer size means that it’s very impressive when it does.
CES 2019, like every CES for the past half a decade, has been filled with 8K TV announcements. New for this year are models that you’ll actually be able to buy, but that doesn’t mean you actually should. The amount of native 8K content out there is still frighteningly limited, and it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future unless something fundamental changes about the costs of shooting and editing 8K footage.
But even ignoring 8K, there were some really cool TVs on show. We saw rollable TVs, a MicroLED TV, and a new HDMI standard (version 2.1) with a host of audio visual upgrades.
Here are our favorites.
Samsung 75-inch MicroLED 4K TV
MicroLED is the biggest new TV technology since OLED first appeared on the scene a decade ago. It’s capable of producing brighter images and some amazing-looking HDR. This year, Samsung showed off a 75-inch 4K MicroLED display, although the company wasn’t quite ready to talk about when exactly something like this will be ready for consumer release.
Samsung first debuted its MicroLED technology at last year’s CES with a massive, 146-inch TV that was appropriately called The Wall. This new version relies on the same technology, and it shows how it can be customized to various sizes. MicroLED essentially combines the LCD and LED components of a typical television (and it shrinks everything way down) to create a display where the pixels emit their own light in a way that’s very similar to OLED.
A 75-inch TV is still a little big for some homes, but Samsung has shown that MicroLED is modular, so hopefully a range of sizes will one day be available. The whole TV is made up of small square panels, which can be put together in any orientation. Theoretically, this makes ultrawide or ultra-tall sets possible, but I’d settle for a sub-50-inch model that’ll fit in my living room. Someday.
Samsung 98-inch 8K TV
Alongside its new display tech, Samsung also had some good news for anyone who wants a smaller 8K TV. The company announced that in addition to the 85-inch model it already sells in the US, it will also be releasing 82-inch, 75-inch, and 65-inch models. There’s also a new 98-inch model, if you never want to be able to see the wall behind your TV ever again.
LG Signature OLED TV R
LG’s latest flagship TV is able to roll away into a small box when you’re not using it. It’s probably the most sci-fi-looking thing you’ll see from CES that actually has a use in real life.
First shown off as a prototype from LG Display at CES 2018, the rollable TV will actually be released in 2019, although the company is keeping quiet on exactly how much it will cost.
That’s a shame because the idea of a 65-inch TV that can compact itself down into a box the size of a TV cabinet is incredibly tempting. When it’s not in full-size TV mode, the screen can also be partially retracted to hide the black bars at the top and bottom of any content with a 21:9 cinematic aspect ratio, or it can rise up just a little bit to show smart TV notifications.
LG 88-inch Z9 8K OLED
If you’re after something a little more traditional, then LG has a whole range of OLED and LCD TVs to show off. At the top of the range are the 8K 88-inch Z9 OLED and the 75-inch SM99 LCD, but there was also a new version of the company’s “wallpaper” thin TV, the W9, as well as the E9 and C9 OLEDs.
All now feature Alexa support in addition to Google Assistant, so you can enjoy an OLED’s lovely inky blacks and viewing angles without having to compromise on which voice assistant runs your smart home.
Sony 98-inch Z9G 8K TV
Sony didn’t have anything quite as eye-catching as a rollable TV or an entirely new display technology. Instead, it chose to compete on TV’s traditional battleground — size — with a massive 98-inch LCD 8K monstrosity. Sony claims that the 8K Z9G features “ultra-dense LED modules,” which should mean its backlight is able to light bright areas of an image very selectively to create a really nice level of contrast between light and dark.
However, if you want one of Sony’s OLEDs, then it’s a much more traditional affair. The A9G is “only” a 4K model, and its maximum size is “only” 77 inches. In other words, it’s very similar to the A9F that the company announced back in July, albeit the kickstand is replaced with a more traditional TV base.
TCL 8K TV
It wasn’t just premium TV manufacturers that had 8K sets to show off at CES 2019. TCL, which has quietly become the go-to brand for budget TVs, also announced that it would be producing an 8K TV before the end of 2019 in collaboration with its software partner Roku.
If you’d rather have a big TV than an 8K one, then the company also announced that it would be adding a 75-inch model to its 6-Series lineup. It supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10, and it costs $1,799.99. It’s available now exclusively from Best Buy.
Vizio 75-inch P-Series Quantum X 4K TV
Vizio hasn’t attended CES for a few years now, but this year, it showed up with a range that included the P-Series Quantum X, a 4K HDR TV that will be available in 65- and 75-inch variants, and it will be capable of hitting a peak brightness of 2,900 nits, which is very bright.
If having a TV that bright sounds like it’s more trouble than it’s worth, you can step down to the Quantum (sans X), which gets you the same screen size and drops the peak brightness to 1,000 nits. That’s still enough for HDR content, but it won’t “pop” quite as much as the brighter display. Rounding out the lineup are the M-Series and V-Series. The former is available in sizes ranging from 43 inches to 65 inches with 90 dimming zones, while the latter ranges from 40 to 75 inches and has 16 zones.
Hisense ULED XD 4K TV
While its competitors tried to double up on resolution or screen size, Hisense’s latest TV doubles the amount of panels it uses to display images. In addition to the 4K panel and LED backlight that most TVs use to display content, Hisense’s ULED XD has an additional 1080p panel, which sits in front of the backlight in order to stop its light from getting through the darkest areas of the image.
The ULED XD is currently set to be released in China later this year, and there’s no word yet on whether it’ll come to the US or Europe.
Panasonic 65-inch GZ2000 4K TV
Another TV that is unlikely to ever see a release in the US is the Panasonic GZ2000, which is the world’s first to support both dynamic metadata HDR formats, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. That’s not hugely important at the beginning of 2019 when basically nothing supports HDR10+, but it’s a good way to hedge your bets in case the royalty-free standard does take off.
Otherwise, the GZ2000 has all of the trimmings we’ve come to expect from a 4K OLED display, including lovely deep blacks and wide viewing angles, although its omission of the HDMI 2.1 standard is really unfortunate.