The tech industry let out a collective gasp when LG revealed it would be unveiling a new “cheap” OLED at this year’s virtual Las Vegas CES show. Its B-series TVs had long been the entry-level line, but a new A-series was expected to drop the price of LG’s OLEDs even lower.
The terms “cheap” and “budget” are relative, to start with. And when the prices for the new range of A1 models were finally made public, it turned out that this new, inexpensive OLED wasn’t nearly as inexpensive as everyone had thought. Those who had hoped for a sub-£1000 LG alternative were undoubtedly let down, but in the years to follow, the cost may continue to decline.
Support for 4K playback and HDR in the LG A1 OLED (2021)
Organic Light-Emitting Diode technology has been tried, tested, and is difficult to surpass when it comes to creating brilliantly high-contrast images, thus it would be fair to say that LG is currently king of OLED. The A1 OLED is already poised to dazzle because it has millions of self-illuminating pixels rather than relying on backlights like LED panels, which guarantees stunning, natural color and perfect, deep, dark blacks.
The inclusion of Dolby Vision IQ, which further improves images by intelligently adjusting picture settings based on both the HDR content it is playing and the ambient light in your environment, as well as support for HDR10 and HLG, should make the picture quality worth every penny of the purchase price.
In order to manage all of this and keep the A1 series as affordable as possible, LG decided to use its Alpha 7 Generation 4 AI processor 4K instead of the latest Alpha 9 Generation 4 microprocessor, which is featured in all 2021 models above its B1 series.
You can mark that off your list of worries since, although being a step down for those who expect the moon on a stick, the 7 Gen4 is still an amazing powerhouse of a processor and has proven itself to preside over all upscaling and the aforementioned automatic image changes with flawless efficiency.
Audio characteristics for the LG A1 OLED
The audio component of the equation is the next to be discussed because entry-level flat panel TVs typically perform horribly in this area. So, what does the LG A1 offer? Two channels of downward-firing sound at a power of 10W each might not seem like much, but when you take into account the Alpha 7 AI processor’s analysis of all audio sources and optimization for the type of content and even the location of your A1 within the room, you can expect the audio to be clear and crisp. Possibly a little bass-deficient, like most 4K TVs are, but not overly tinny.
The A1 offers a surprisingly rich, immersive audio experience for what is thought of as a cheap OLED model when virtual 5.1 surround sound, AI algorithm up-mixing, and Dolby Atmos surround sound capability are added to the audio mix.
LG A1 OLED: WebOS smart platform and gaming specifications
That takes care of the cinematic aspect, but what about gamers who want to play next-generation games? Unfortunately, the news is not good. Those hoping to get the most out of their PS5 and/or Xbox Series X will want to look elsewhere (perhaps the LG C1 OLED or Samsung Q80A) for their gaming enjoyment since the LG A1 lacks HDMI 2.1 connections and does not support 4K at 120Hz or VRR.
This boosts up the A1 series’ intelligence. This is the most recent version of LG’s renowned webOS smart TV platform. It has Alexa and Google Assistant voice search capability and was designed to work with the company’s included Magic Remote to make content search and selection as quick and easy as possible.
The OS also enables users to get additional content about whatever they’re watching, such as the actors and locations depicted, and, in an effort to appease shopaholics, even acquire online access to purchase items seen on screen. This is for the benefit of those who are easily distracted.
The new LG A1 series, then, combines the technology and the brains to produce excellent 4K HDR images while also doing a respectable job with audio, despite being at the bottom of this year’s 4K OLED pile. As previously noted, next-gen gamers will want to look at a higher-specced choice, but the A1 is an enticing option if you want an impressive cinematic experience from a reputable manufacturer for a starting price of £1,100 (48in).
Price and competition for the LG A1 OLED
When compared to other OLEDs on the market, the new LG A1 series appears to provide decent value for the money, with prices starting at £1,100 for the 48-inch option and rising to £3,700 for the 77-inch model. A price range, however, will never be able to satisfy everyone. What other options are there if the A1 isn’t stoking your passion for 4K?
Samsung’s beautiful Q80A 4K QLED, new for 2021, costs £100 extra at £1,200 for the 55-inch model and is available on Amazon. The term “QLED” refers to a layer of small dots that react to light by emitting color. This technology gives TVs a significantly higher brightness than OLED or traditional LCD panels. Support for HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG is also included. The Q80A offers the same 2.0ch 20W audio output as the LG, but here an active voice amplifier and Samsung’s Object Tracking Sound (OTS) system collaborate to produce a soundscape that feels like it is in three dimensions. But for next-generation gamers, having 1x HDMI 2.1, 4K at 120Hz, and VRR makes all the difference in the world.
Sony’s XR50X90J, a sleek 50-inch LCD that is far from the top of Sony’s 2021 4K TV pecking order but yet boasts the same premium Cognitive XR Processor as its more expensive siblings, is also throwing its hat into the UHD ring. As a result, it is capable of some rather high-level 4K Upscaling. The same image-improving XR Triluminos Pro technology is also present, along with a 3D Surround Upscaling option for better audio and Dolby Atmos support.