LG has unveiled its 2013 television range in advance of CES 2013. It builds on the superslim design ethos of the previous year, with LED backlights now standard across its entire LCD range. The company will no longer make TVs with fluorescent (CCFL) backlights
The range comprises just under 20 different series, not including the possibly newly announced 55EM9700 OLED. Just three series are plasma, and more than two-thirds of models now feature Internet connectivity.
The company chose to focus on improving Smart TV in 2013; its press release makes no mention of picture quality outside the context of processing power. In addition to the voice control, LG touts an enhanced home dashboard with custom folders for favorite apps, trending news, and other content via "My Interest Cards." There's also improved sharing with devices like smartphones and tablets via WiDi and Miracast (wireless), and MHL (wired), as well as pairing via NFC (near-field communication).
Regarding NFC, LG says: "This feature immediately connects two devices for quick media sharing. To use 'Tag On'...users simply hold a smartphone or other NFC-enabled device against the NFC sticker on LG's Cinema 3D Smart TV." LG also mentions access to cloud-based content via, you guessed it, LG Cloud.
The TVs also have an improved content recommendation engine called On Now that suggests content from on-demand and cable and satellite services via pop-up thumbnail images. Hopefully it's less annoying than it sounds. In terms of content we asked whether the company would support the final missing service in 2013, Amazon Instant, but reps couldn't confirm at this time.
Sharing the top of the tree with the OLED TV is LG's 84-inch LM9600, a 4K/UHD television. It was actually announced about a year ago, started shipping in late fall 2012, and will continue to be available in 2013. It's currently selling for about $20,000.
The TVs mere mortals can afford start with the 8 and 7 series (the LA8600 and LA7400) which both feature edge-lit LED backlights with local dimming (LG calls it "LED+"), a 240Hz refresh rate, and all of the premium LG Smart TV features, including the new remote and voice control with natural speech. The main difference is that the 8600 includes a pop-up camera for use with Skype and other apps (it won't have gesture or face recognition, though). The LA8600 will come in 60- and 55-inch sizes, whereas the LA7400 will come in those sizes plus a 47-incher.
In case you're wondering, LG told us that it will not sell a successor to the full-array local dimming 2012 flagship, the LM9600, in the U.S. in 2013. The 8 series is the highest-end mainstream TV the company has announced so far.
Following last year's singular G2, LG will also sell variants of the 7 and 8 series equipped with Google TV. The GA7900 (55- to 47-inch) and the GA6400 (60- to 42-inch) both have QWERTY motion remote controls and 3D. The distinction is that the GA7900 has edge-lit LED with dimming while the GA6400 is simply edge-lit, with no dimming. The styling of LG's Google TVs will also be different from the standard 7 and 8 series, particularly the stands.
The bulk of LG's midprice Smart TVs occupy the 6000 model numbers. It starts at the top with the dimming edge-lit LA6900 (55, 50, and 47 inches) and the lone wolf (a series with just one size) 27-inch 27LA6500, which lacks the 6900's 120Hz processing, 3D, and local dimming, but keeps the slim Cinema Screen bezel and motion remote.
The LA6200 (42, 47, 50, 55, and 60 inches) is the highest-end LG series with direct, rather than edge-lit, LED backlighting, and it loses local dimming, Cinema Screen, and the motion remote (although it can still be purchased as an optional accessory). It gets 120Hz, and it's LG's least expensive TV with 3D. Similar to the LA6200 is the 60-inch 60LA6100, another lone wolf with same smart features and direct LED, but no 3D.
At the bottom of the 1080p LED pack is the nonsmart, non-3D 5 series. The main line will be the LN5400 (60, 55, 50, 47, and 42 inches), boasting 120Hz. The LN5300 is 60Hz and available in 42-, 39-, and 32-inch sizes. Both are direct LED, which is a lower-cost approach than edge-lit that results in a thicker cabinet, but gives similar and sometimes improved picture quality, since uniformity is less of an issue. There is also a 32-inch 1080p lone wolf (32LN540B) and there are two smaller-screen, 720p 4-series models that range from 29 to 22 inches (LN4510 and LN4500).
According to NPD DisplaySearch, LCD dominates the market at 85.5 percent market share. Following a reduced demand for plasma, LG has halved its plasma range from six models last year to three. The "flagship" 60PH6700 (no 9-series plasma this year) has premium features like voice search, a dual-core processor, and 3D. It comes in just one size, 60 inches. The step-down PN6700 (50 and 60 inches) comes without Smart TV features, and the entry-level PN4500 (42 and 50 inches) is a 720p television.
Editors' note: This post was updated January 2, 2013, with additional information from LG.