Rollable TVs, transparent TVs, extraordinarily slim TVs, OLED TV tunnels… you can always count on LG to bless the annual CES show with a crazy or innovative (sometimes both) TV. So where is the company raising people’s eyebrows this week at CES 2023? Well, a wireless TV.
The M3 (or ‘Signature OLED M’, to use its full name) is not the nothing but ‘wireless TV’ at CES 2023, with US startup Displace showing off its portable, battery-powered 55-inch 4K OLED TV here. But the LG M3 isn’t ‘wireless’ in the sense that it’s battery-powered or even portable; it actually requires a mains plug. But it takes into account the wireless concept by receiving all content wirelessly from an associated wireless transmitter box. And guess what, the M3 isn’t just some prototype we may never see again – it’s a real, fully realized TV that will be in the homes of the lucky people who want and can afford it by the second half of this year .
At CES we were lucky enough to get a demonstration of the 97-inch LG M3 OLED TV (it will also be available in 77-inch and 83-inch sizes), and while it could be several years before such a television becomes a viable option for most of us, the convenience the design offers will no doubt be desired for years to come.
Zero Connect wireless technology
LG calls its own wireless technology ‘Zero Connect’. For now, the company is holding back a few secrets like a wizard, but essentially it’s a kind of RF technology that enables the transfer of audio-video content up to 4K/120Hz between the TV screen and the included, separate Zero makes possible. Connect box to which sources (such as game consoles or Blu-ray players) can be connected. The idea is that you can have the M3 TV as the centerpiece of a living space without it cluttered with cables and electronics nearby – the accompanying transmitter box (which contains all of the M3’s circuitry) can simply be tucked away somewhere out of sight.
While we’d like to know the details of the Zero Connect technology, such as what bandwidth it works over, LG assures us that it’s designed so that other devices sharing a room with it won’t interfere with the TV’s wireless transmission. .
In fact, this magic box from LG seems to be pretty well thought out. While LG recommends placing a pie-box-sized chassis within 30 feet of the screen in a clear line of sight, a 180-degree spinner on top of the box acts as a sort of antenna that can be pointed at the TV. a stronger wireless signal, offering flexibility over the location of the box in a room. LG says the antennas continuously broadcast algorithmic signals, automatically switching to a better “path” for wireless transmission when it finds one and minimizing disruption if, say, a person or pet walks between the screen and the screen. And if, like us, you’re wondering about lag (we’re looking at you gamers), LG claims the technology is stable and three times faster than Wi-Fi 6.
Without being burdened with brains and connections, the LG M3 itself is a relatively simple, minimalist affair – as it’s meant to be, of course. The design is sleek and uncluttered: a relatively thinly framed screen on a two-legged easel stand, where the power cable can run unobtrusively down and out of one of the legs. Unsurprisingly, the screen also has an integrated wall-mount bracket, so it can be placed flush against a wall if desired.
The box, on the other hand, is unremarkable in design – black and square without any embellishment. Like stunt doubles, although his job is crucial, he is ultimately designed to go undetected. On the back are three 4K/120Hz-capable HDMI 2.1 inputs that support the gaming compatibility you’d expect (e.g. VRR and Nvidia G-Sync and AMD Freesync certification), as well as two USB connections, an Ethernet port , a TV antenna coaxial, a 3.5 mm audio input and of course a hole for the mains plug. There’s also an optical output, though LG suggested the M3’s box could stream audio wirelessly to a compatible soundbar.
The Zero Connect box is also voice recognition capable, to enable convenient hands-free operation as an alternative to the (sufficient) remote control.
The M3 shares some of the DNA of this year’s just-announced G3, which is the front-runner of the company’s standard 4K OLED TV line-up and looks set to offer a decent step up from compared to last year’s models. That means it features a 4K OLED panel and Alpha 9 processor, is 75 percent brighter than the entry-level B3 OLED in its 77-inch size (or 30 percent in its 83-inch and 97-inch sizes), and has generous support for HDR formats (including Dolby Vision), Dolby Atmos and the latest gaming features. LG isn’t revealing full specs at this stage, but we have no doubt that the M3 is a serious piece of television.
The main focus of our demo was to witness the wireless transmission quality achieved by playing back video clips (such as a scene from Mad Max: Fury Road) from a demo disc played by a Blu-ray player connected to the back of the Zero Connect box. With a distance of about 5 meters between the screen and the box, the transmission indeed seemed seamless – even with the LG representative standing right in front of the transmitter box. But once we were happy with that, we found it very easy to appreciate the wonderful image quality on such a large screen.
Of course, innovation and cost almost exclusively go hand in hand, so if the M3 goes on sale sometime in the second half of the year it will be out of reach for most people. LG hasn’t put a number on it yet, but a rep told us it will be among the yet-to-be-announced prices of the 4K G3 and 8K Z3 OLED models with dimensions to match. The 77-inch LG M3 should therefore cost somewhere between £4500 / $4200 / AU$11,399 and £12,000 / $13,000 / AU$23,999.
If it can indeed deliver a 4K 120Hz experience “with no interruption or loss of quality” and paves the way for more TVs to go wirelessly convenient in the years to come, then we’ve got plenty to be excited about. Gimmick or stroke of genius? We now opt for the latter.
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