It's CES time again, which means a quick preview into the next 12 months of advances for TVs, computers, peripherals, VR and other assorted bits of tech that touch base with the gaming world. But just before CES proper kicked off this year, we got our first taste of what news gamers can expect.
LG officially announced their TV range a couple of days prior to CES's official beginning, and most of the announcements are what you'd expect given where TVs have gone the past couple of years. AI is a bigger focus with the company's 2019 models, with deep learning being integrated to improve picture and sound quality across the C9, E9, W9 and Z9 series, with particular focus on refinements for HDR content to automatically adjust the brightness of scenes for the ambient temperature.
Handy for people like me who play Resident Evil in broad daylight, then. Other bits include the incorporation of Amazon Alexa directly into the TV along with Google Assistant integration.
But for gamers, the biggest inclusions - and one you can expect to hear a lot more of in the coming week - is the support for variable refresh rates (VRR) and 120fps content through HDMI 2.1 ports on LG's 2019 line of OLEDs.
And through the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 ports, all 2019 OLED TVs and selected Super UHD TVs with ThinQ AI will support high frame rate (HFR). The result is smoother and clearer motion at 120 frames per second for better rendering of fast-action content such as sports and action movies. Support for enhanced audio return channel (eARC) enables home theatre enthusiasts to seamlessly utilise HDMI connectivity and enjoy the highest quality audio formats available with superb detail and depth. An excellent option for gamers, the new TVs are compatible with variable refresh rate (VRR) as well as automatic low latency mode (ALLM) which helps deliver a clean image, with minimal stutter or tearing.
HDMI 2.1 is already supported by the Xbox One X natively, and the May update for the Xbox One consoles enabled support for 120Hz displays and variable refresh rate. Only a few Samsung monitors were patched with support for VRR, however, and the support only worked if you were running the console at 1080p.
Variable refresh rate is a technology that owners of G-Sync and FreeSync-capable monitors will be familiar with. It's what essentially allows monitors and TVs to continue displaying a tear-free image in scenarios with inconsistent frame rates. Given that few console titles are capable of maintaining a solid 60fps without some drops, having some form of VRR can make a noticeable difference to a game's presentation if implemented well.
Eurogamer's Digital Foundry tested the Xbox One's VRR implementation last year. When it worked, the results were impressive, but the FreeSync implementation on the Xbox wasn't quite the same as what you'd find on a PC.
The big kicker is really the window at which FreeSync, or VRR in the case of LG's 2019 TVs, is actually supported. Most of the time that range is somewhere between the high 40Hz and 60Hz, meaning that VRR is no help at all if you've got a 30fps game suffering from tearing and stuttering.
News about that wasn't available at the time of writing, although more info and demos with the products are due later this week. LG's also expected to reveal a little more information about their full 2019 lineup at their CES conference, scheduled for 1330 AEDT / 1230 AQST / 1300 ACST / 1030 AWST.
The author travelled to CES 2019 as a guest of Hisense.