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LG SIGNATURE OLED TV R9 REVIEW

On one time, watching a smart TV turn out of thin air would’ve been something straight out of a magic act. But LG’s new rollable TV, the Signature Series OLED TV R isn’t magic, it’s engineering and display technology grown to the nth degree. And while it certainly has a magical, scientific fiction quality about it – how many TVs have you seen fall down on themselves without being destroyed? – it’ll soon be more fact than fiction.

While the set was first shown off back in January, we got another good look at this year's IFA 2019 expo, where we learnt that the late-2019 release date might have been too good to be true after all. While it could launch in Korea by the end of the year, it's unlikely this futuristic roll-up carpet of the television is coming to Western markets for a while longer. But, as ever, we found ourselves mesmerized by the South Korean electronics maker’s latest innovation. Here's everything we thought in our hands on review of the rollable OLED TV R.


PRICE AND AVAILABILITY


According to LG, the Signature Series R9 will be available in the second-half of 2019 and completely in a 65-inch version, though it's looking more like a 2020 window for Western markets. LG also couldn't provide a price for the 65R9... which actually isn't that bizarre at technology expos like these. Rarely do manufacturers announce a price and launch date the day they announce a new product. Given the fact that it's a 65-inch OLED that uses a mechanical system never used before by any other manufacturer, however, chances are it's not going to be cheap.


DESIGN


The base is kind of longer than 60 inches across but half that size vertically. That’s enough storage space for the screen, apparently, as well as the 4.2 Atmos sound system. The housing unit, which has all the inputs and outputs built into the back, sits on top of a plain white stand that comes with every 65R9 OLED. The base and the stand are all you're going to see when the TV is turned off... which is fine as long as you like the white stand and base. If not, you're out of luck: the stand only comes in one color and there's no swapping bases.

While the single color option is a disappointment, the stand itself is a minimalist’s dream: it’s low to the ground, open at the bottom to allow for storage and fairly inoffensive. The magic of the unfold (the term we’ve given to the TV unrolling itself from the stand) remains a bit of a secret, a short instructional video LG put together shows the TV being rolled up on a spindle inside the base.


PERFORMANCE


When the TV is fully exposed, you're treated to a 4K HDR OLED TV set. It's just as beautiful as LG's screens from last year, even if there hasn't been a massive change in technology - the panel itself hasn't undergone a massive revision, unfortunately.


Still, what we saw was particularly impressive. OLED picture quality is still at the top of the table compared to standard LED-LCD. Sure, the latter can get brighter - and that certainly makes LED-LCD look better in a brighter room - but when it comes to cinema-quality black levels OLED is still the absolute best. Inside the 65R9 is the next-generation of Alpha a9 processors that allow for deep learning picture quality and an ambient light detection feature that can actually adjust the PQ curve of a TV depending on the ambient brightness in the room - i.e. when it's daytime the TV will recognize the additional light and raise its max brightness to compensate, and reverse that process at night.


The last feature is all part of LG's new WebOS 4.5 smart platform, which makes its appearance on all of the 2019 LG UHD TVs. The big change this year is that the Amazon button on the remote doubles as a way to access Alexa - a short press brings up Amazon Prime Video while a long press brings up Amazon's virtual assistant. That doesn't mean Google Assistant or LG's own ThinQ smart platform are out of a job, however, those smart platforms still exist and can be accessed by pressing the press-to-talk button (microphone button) on the LG Smart Remote.


Lastly, not to be outdone by Samsung's announcement that its 2019 TVs will support iTunes on its Tizen smart TV platform, LG says that it will support AirPlay 2... just stopping short of creating an iTunes app on the LG TV Store.



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