The LG 4K Smart QNED91 MiniLED TV Offers a Compelling Case to Not Jump to 8K Just Yet

0
87



After spending a month with the LG 65-inch QNED91 Series 4K TV, I have to say there’s not a lot you lose from sticking with 4K instead of splurging on an 8K. But, with mid-to-top tier TVs in 2021 (and now 2022) all looking and sounding exceptional when you’re watching a movie or sport, it’s the overall experience that is going to determine whether a TV scores top marks.

The LG QNED91 Series TV promises all that LG touts with QNED. The picture quality is impressive, the sound is fine, but the user experience could be a little better. Here’s what I think of the 65-inch LG QNED91 Series 4K TV.

LG 4K Smart QNED91 Series MiniLED TV

WHAT IS IT?

65-inch LG QNED 4K TV

PRICE

$3,476.00 (currently on sale, usually $3,976)

LIKE

Near perfect picture, great for streaming sport or watching a movie

NO LIKE

The remote, UI could be smarter and the sound could be improved

LG QNED91 Series TV specs at a glance

  • Quantum Dot + NanoCell + MiniLED
  • Alpha 7 Gen4 AI Processor 4K: AI Picture/Sound, HDMI 2.1 features (HFR, VRR, eARC)
  • α7 Gen 4 AI Processor 4K
  • 4K upscaler
  • Home Cinema: Dolby Vision IQ, Dolby Atmos, Filmmaker Mode
  • ThinQ AI: Hey Google, Amazon Alexa, Apple Airplay 2 & Apple HomeKit, Magic Remote
  • Available in 65-, 75- and 86-inch models

Setting up the TV

Honestly, this was the easiest (and quickest) TV I have ever set up.

Step one, connect to the internet; step two, perform update; step three, sign into all streaming services. This took 15 minutes, but please note I didn’t connect the LG QNED91 Series TV to free-to-air, so this may impact your setup time by a few more minutes.

The only issue I have with setup was having digital versions of famous artwork blown up in my face, but more on that later.

Is QNED all it’s stacked up to be?

You may know LG for its OLED panels. The main attraction of an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) is that they eliminate the need for a backlight.

Many TVs require the use of edge or backlights to create images but OLED uses self-lit pixels which have the ability to turn on and off where required. This allows OLED TVs to create perfect blacks because they don’t have a backlight that’s constantly switched on.

QNED, however, aside from being a name specific to LG, is basically a shorthand for a combination of Quantum Dot and NanoCell technology. When it comes to miniLED, this is a technology that essentially shrinks the TV’s light source with a huge amount of tiny lights.

Essentially, the smaller size allows manufacturers to pack more LEDs in the same TV screen size for increased brightness compared to regular LCD TVs. This is the shining star in this TV. Deeper blacks and a higher contrast is what I could talk about with a mouth full of marbles.

Last year, I declared the TCL x925 miniLED 8K Google TV set an impossible benchmark for TVs. And while that TV is perfect in nearly every way, the LG QNED91 picture is definitely on par.

What does this mean for you?

The LG QNED91 TV sat right next to a floor-to-ceiling window that leads to a balcony that cops afternoon sun. Of course there’s still a little bit of glare, and unfortunately my camera could not capture just how well it handles the glare in a way that does it justice, but the TV was completely watchable, even with the beaming Sydney Summer sun.

At night, in a pitch-black room, the LG QNED91 TV was perfect, picture wise that is. LG QNED91 TV delivers a great cinematic performance and watching a movie or a show (specifically action or sport) really showcases the R&D behind the tech.

The photos I’ve taken of this TV don’t do it justice – all of the smarts the iPhone 13 Pro Max puts into a shot makes the TV seem like it’s a little fake when it comes to colour. But that certainly isn’t the case, focus on the richness in this pic (and the score), please:

LG QNED 91 TV
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

There’s a few different picture modes you can have the TV on, but I found Expert to be fine. Filmmaker mode does get a shout out, too – it turns off motion smoothing to help preserve a cinematic feel (this is pretty good, I will admit).

This also translates perfectly into gaming. I found it very similar to watching an action movie or sporting match – there wasn’t lag, the TV was in sync with the action and it delivered an impressive experience. This also highlights why 4K is still more than good enough – as there’s no need for 8K scaling, you don’t lose as much when you’re playing a game as you do on 8K.

How does the LG QNED91 TV handle sound?

The LG QNED91 boasts AI Sound. AI Sound, LG says, is “how pro sounds”. It says the AI learns from millions of audio data points, and that the processor identifies voices, effects and frequencies from free-to-air and digital content to optimise sound by genre.

The sound is fine, but it’s not great. This TV would definitely benefit from a soundbar to elevate the sound to match the picture.

I know this is a TV and not a music speaker, but with many people using their TVs to stream YouTube clips or even use the Spotify app, it’s something that needs to be explored.

There’s a number of sound ‘modes’ – AI sound, standard, cinema, clear voice, cricket, music and game optimisation.

For music, ‘music mode’ is the only one that is actually tolerable. All the others lack clarity and kind-of sounds like my phone is playing music in a bucket. On music mode, however, the sound is a lot better, still not great, but the bass is clear and vocals aren’t as muffled.

For watching a movie, I found cinema to be the best.

The LG QNED91 TV also boasts Auto Volume Levelling, which is meant to provide a consistent voice level across different types of content. I found this a great feature when watching sport, as for some reason Kayo ads are about 10 levels above the broadcasted content.

What about the overall experience?

The home screen is easy to navigate, but it serves me up things that are popular, not what is good for me. Included in this list is awful reality TV and romance comedy movies. I know going into each app allows me to get a better algorithmic suggestion of what I should watch, but what if I don’t know which streaming service I want to open? The LG QNED91 TV would benefit from being able to know me better.

Appealing to all assistants is a great way to cover all bases, but ThinQ AI becomes a jack of all trades and a master of none. Focusing on one assistant would allow the TV to learn more about me and fix the problem I raised at the start of this section. The flip side is you might not want more things to have your data.

The UI took some getting used to, but as you can see in this pic, it’s perfectly fine.

LG QNED 91 TV
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

I may as well discuss the screensaver here, too.

The LG QNED91 TV’s screensaver is rotating digital versions of artwork. I love art and I love digital, but this is exceptionally tacky. The idea of the Samsung Frame is bad, and this is worse. LG is unnecessarily creating a reason for the TV to not suit everyone’s decor. It seems you can download some different themes, but I kinda just want the LG logo to bounce around the screen and do that not-quite-hitting-the-corners-but-it-might-eventually thing.

LG QNED 91 TV
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

I need to talk about the remote (and the stand)

Firstly, my qualms with the remote. They may seem trivial: girl gets long nails, girl can’t press buttons on remote. But while your first answer might be, ‘Well get shorter nails’, I have to jump in with, no.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

As you can see in the picture above, the ‘enter’ button is in the middle of the remote, with a sort of reservoir around it. This is what I cannot press. I’ve had a chopstick next to the lounge at all times so I could activate this button.

Still on the remote (and a segue into the other issues I have with the LG QNED91 TV) is the fact LG is still persisting with its laser pointer-like controller. Any activation of this and my cat goes launching for the TV. While it isn’t as sensitive (read: useless) as I remember back in 2016, it still is finicky and I’d prefer it didn’t exist. A friend of mine, however, likes the remote for this sole reason. Divisive.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The segue is via cat and into the way you need to sit the TV without the option of mounting it (or moving it to attach straps to the back of it to wrap around your TV cabinet). The legs feel unstable (yes, they’re on correctly) and they create far too much space between the wall and the start of the TV. I’m having to stick a foam roller between the TV and the wall, and I’ve stacked some pavers onto the legs as added weight to keep the LG QNED91 TV from feeling like it’s going to topple over.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

LG QNED91 Series 4K TV, the verdict

If you remove my issues with the remote and the legs, and rid the art slideshow, the LG QNED91 is a fabulous TV. The picture is near perfect and the sound is fine. The LG QNED91 TV highlights the brilliance that is LG’s QNED miniLED technology and really gives a compelling argument to not bother with 8K while scaling is still a thing.




LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here