Back in 2007 I started reviewing TVs and if you’re old enough to remember, you’ll know this was the era of the flat panel. LCDs and plasma screens were taking over from the old and massive CRTs that dominated since the dawn of television sets. When I moved on to other tech writing around 2010 the market was dominated by affordable TVs, which was good for people buying them, but less good from an innovation perspective.
Some thought that perhaps TVs would never be interesting again but how wrong they were. It turns out that the ‘20s will be known as the pinnacle of television technology thanks to incredible technological leaps. And to prove it, Dolby and LG have both just won Technology & Engineering Emmy awards for their work on some of the things that are making TVs exciting all over again.
In Dolby’s case, it’s been recognised for its contributions to “dynamic metadata” and “wide colour gamut”. These fairly dry technical terms don’t excite most people, but I can tell you that the result is the most significant advance in picture quality for some time. Those two pieces of work have made HDR televisions possible and, as such, have done more for TV than the switch from standard definition to high definition.
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LG is also celebrating, because like Dolby, its OLED technology has won an Emmy. That’s because these TVs have been extensively used in Hollywood as a showcase for films that come as close as possible to the experience of being in a cinema.
I recently put my hand in my pocket and bought one of LG’s OLED TVs. Specifically the LG 55CX, the little brother to our Platinum Award winner, the LG 65CX. Why did I cough up more than £1000 for a TV in this day and age? Well it had a lot to do with loving plasma screens because OLED is the spiritual successor to that tech thanks to its pixels that glow on their own rather than because of a backlight behind them (as in LCDs). My personal opinion aside though, there’s loads of great TVs out there and other people will prefer different technology. You can read about them in our best TVs guide or check out best OLED if you want to join me in the inky blackness these screens produce.
So as I sat back the other night and popped on a Dolby Vision film on my LG TV I couldn’t help but feel the same sense of joy I experienced when I reviewed Pioneer and Panasonic plasmas all those years ago. The leap to 1080p was amazing, but the move to HDR has been even more significant then the introduction of 4K. I’m less interested in resolution, especially on a 55-inch TV, and far more interested in the extra dimension of deep blacks and HDR movies and TV shows.
There is one thing that’s bothering me though. As good as streaming can be, I’ve got a hankering for a new disc player. UHD Blu-ray is calling me, because no matter what, a disc format will always bring another level of detail to a movie. Sadly my piggy bank is extremely empty, so that addition is going to have to wait.