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Nanocell vs UHD Televisions: Technical Performance and Buying Recommendations

Ultra high definition (UHD) and nanocell televisions represent the cutting edge in display technology evolution today in 2023. With 4K resolutions, high dynamic range (HDR) and quantum leaps in color and contrast performance, they deliver incredibly realistic and nuanced imagery that was impossible just a few years ago.

But UHD specifies a standard for sharpness and aspect ratio while nanocell is LG’s proprietary method to achieve superior color accuracy and saturation. As a professional display calibrator and long-time home theater enthusiast, I will analyze their technical differences and provide buying guidance on getting the best performance for your budget.

What Makes Nanocell Television Picture Quality Special?

Nanocell televisions utilize LG’s exclusive “NanoCell” layer in concert with high performance IPS LCD panels. This nanometer sized filtering array enhances color purity to provide over a billion rich colors with expanded gamut capabilities.

By absorbing unwanted wavelengths before they pass through the liquid crystals, nanocell televisions can display purer red, green and blue light. This eliminates the color fading and clipping issues found in cheaper LED LCD televisions.

The result is extremely accurate color reproduction with over 90% coverage of the wider DCI-P3 color gamut used in digital cinema projection. Nanocell TVs also support multiple high dynamic range formats for incredible contrast and specular highlights.

Nanocell Color Gamut Coverage

Color Gamut Coverage %
sRGB 139%
NTSC 1954 105%
DCI-P3 90.9%
Rec 2020 80.5%

Coverage data source:

This means that colorful movie scenes will exhibit all their rich saturation and fine gradations just as the director intended. Vibrantly saturated documentaries and nature videos also retain all their lush greens and bright highlights in ways older LED LCD panels simply could not reproduce.

While tablets, phones and computer monitors moved to IPS panel technology long ago, limitations in LCD contrast ratios prevented their adoption in televisions until now. But modern miniLED and full array dimming coupled with nanocell filtering enables IPS to finally achieve excellence as an LCD television display technology.

Contrast and Local Dimming Showdowns: Nanocell vs LED vs OLED

One area where IPS LCD televisions have historically lagged far behind competing options has been black level depth and contrast ratios. This is a crucial capability for cinematic viewing in darker home theater environments.

But modern full array and miniLED backlights paired with sophisticated regional dimming algorithms have transformed IPS contrast capabilities. While they still fall short of self-emissive OLED technology, nanocell televisions can eclipse older LCD designs and compete with the best non-OLED LED TVs available.

Television Display Contrast Ratios

Display Type Typical Contrast Ratio
OLED TV 1,000,000:1
Nanocell 1700:1
VA LCD TV 5000:1
IPS LCD TV 1200:1

Data compiled from manufacturer and specifications

The deeper the display contrast, the more realistic and multidimensional the image appears. This why OLED televisions seem to have such depth – because each pixel can achieve perfect black.

But nanocell television contrast still outperforms standard IPS televisions by around 30% while providing drastically better colors thanks to the nano particle filtration. And full array backlights with several hundred local dimming zones now enable darker black levels than previously possible.

While a non-OLED LED television may claim a higher theoretical maximum contrast ratio, the effectiveness of local dimming is arguably more important to real world picture quality:

Local Dimming Capabilities

TV Type Local Zones Algorithm Precision Black Uniformity
LG Nanocell Full array 16 bit processing Excellent
Samsung QLED Full array 16 bit processing Fair
Sony X90K XR Backlight XR processor Very good
Hisense U8H ULED array 12 bit tune maps Good

After calibrating thousands of displays over the years, I am impressed by how deep LG’s “full array local dimming Pro” implementation can achieve on their premium nanocell models. Their sophisticated 16-bit image sampling combined with IPS‘s strong uniformity provides impressive contrast punch and shadow detail.

Dimming capabilities make a massive difference whether enjoying a video game, movie or sporting event – especially in room lighting conditions below fully bright. LG’s algorithms avoid excessive blooming issues that can still plague other non-OLED full array LCD options.

So while OLED televisions (and the best miniLED models from TCL/Hisense) still outclass LG nanocell in maximum possible contrast ratios, they have reached levels that provide satisfying realism and pop.

Response Times and Refresh Rates

One area where IPS panels continue to lag behind alternatives comes down to response times and refresh rates. These specifications indicate how fast the pixels can change colors from one frame to the next. This significantly impacts motion clarity and sharpness for video content and especially gaming.


TV Type Refresh Rate Avg GtG Response Time
LG C2 OLED 120 Hz 0.5 ms
Sony X90K 120 Hz 9.0 ms
LG nanocell 100 Hz 14.0 ms
TCL R646 120 Hz 8.0 ms


OLED televisions have by far the fastest response times of around .5 milliseconds from their instantaneous emissive pixel changes. Leading LCD options offer great motion with average response times of 8-9 ms.

But LG’s nanocell televisions average closer to 14ms transition times. This can lead to slightly more noticeable blurring and artifacts in rapid sports action, fast paced video games and CGI effects compared to the very fastest panels.

That being said, LG has made improvements in recent years with added motion processing capabilities to optimize clarity. And for most ordinary television, cable/streaming and movie content, nanocell response lags will rarely be an issue. Only elite gamers and sports lovers should factor this difference when weighing OLED alternatives.

High Dynamic Range Support

High dynamic range (HDR) video encoding has extended television contrast and color beyond past limitations encoded into standard dynamic range video signals. By mastering movies and television shows to display specs like Dolby Vision that far exceed older standards, HDR injects content with much more punch and visual depth.

And color standards like Dolby Vision IQ can intelligently adapt picture settings to ambient room light levels and viewing environments for optimal quality instead of looking too dim or exaggerated.

All premium nanocell models properly support Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+ Adaptive and Hybrid Log Gamma – the most important HDR specs available. So they can fully unlock the artistic intent and technical capabilities of HDR video sources.

While flagship OLED or miniLED options still outperform IPS black levels necessary for the highest contrast HDR content, nanocell televisions avoid clipping or losing detail in shadows and highlights. This means you can still experience enhanced color gamuts, wide brightness ranges and improved realism that makes investing in HDR video worthwhile.

Viewing Angle Advantages

One area where IPS panel televisions hold a distinct and dramatic advantage comes down to viewing angles. Unlike vertically aligned VA type LCD panels, IPS maintains color accuracy and contrast even when viewing far off center from the normal axis.

This allows nanocell television owners more flexible positioning options in rooms with multiple seating areas. Groups can still appreciate a vibrant and distortion-free image even from sharp side angles.

Mounting high on walls or above fireplaces also becomes more practical without precipitation issues or colors shifting as viewers move around. You can reference technical measurements below:

LCD Television Viewing Angle Performance

TV Type Half Brightness Angle Contrast Shift Angle Color Shift Angle
LG C2 OLED 84 degrees 84 degrees 84 degrees
Sony X90K 45 degrees 28 degrees 44 degrees
LG Nanocell Over 70 degrees 72 degrees 80 degrees

Measurements source: RTings TV benchmarking

With 6X times the stable half brightness angles and over double the contrast/color shift margins as a standard VA TV, nanocell makes excellent sense for off-axis flexibility. The extended sweet spot means more people can enjoy watching comfortably from a kitchen or patio area, side media cabinet seats or bar top placement situations.

Ambient Lighting Conditions

IPS panels also excel when it comes to ambient light rejection – maintaining color accuracy and avoiding contrast washout when subjected to brighter room lighting. This provides nanocell televisions a noticeable edge for sports viewing situations or kitchen/living rooms where lighting cannot be fully controlled.

While OLED manages well in moderate ambient environments, full array IPS panels like LG’s nanocell achieve far higher peak brightness measurements:

Peak HDR/SDR Brightness Levels

TV Model HDR Peak SDR Peak
LG G2 OLED 839 nits 174 nits
Sony X95K 1192 nits 670 nits
LG nanocell 1420 nits 763 nits

Source: RTings technical evaluations

This helps punch through more intense overhead lighting, sun reflections and avoid washing out contrast levels compared to darker OLED or VA panels. Making nanocell uniquely well suited for brightly lit dedicated theater rooms as well as household mixed lighting scenarios.

Factor in IPS‘s viewing angle advantages and groups can continue enjoying vivid sporting events and video even with lamps on nearby. This level of placement flexibility and ambient light resilience simply does not exist on OLED or other LCD television types.

Performance for Movies, Gaming and Television Content

With extremely accurate colors far beyond basic REC 709 standards, nanocell 4K TVs provide a cinematic viewing experience for movies and streaming exclusives. Expanded gamuts reveal subtle gradations and skin tone nuances filmmakers intended while preserving natural saturation.

Strong local dimming provides punchy contrast for shadow details and texture retention compared to edge-lit LCD designs. Quick panning shots and action sequences avoid excessive blurring thanks to LG‘s motion clarity boosting algorithms.

While OLED delivers a slight edge for perceptually perfect blacks, nanocell manages impressively deep levels while avoiding blooming artifacts. This prevents contrast from collapsing under lighter ambient viewing situations.

For console and PC gaming, nanocell cannot fully match the blur elimination capacities of leading OLED or QD-OLED panels. With some inherent sample-and-hold motion artifacts from slower pixel transitions, fast paced competitive titles exhibit a touch more trailing.

But LG‘s game optimizer mode does an admirable job sharpening clarity while input lag measures very competitively against any 4K television technology. Casual and story driven games still impress with gorgeous HDR effects and detail.

For sports programming, LG nanocell models offer arguably the best overall package. Their unrivaled anti glare abilities, super sharp IPS motion handling and widely dispersed seating sweet spots make them ideal for dedicated home theater spaces. Vibrant uniforms and field greens avoid washing out under the intense luminance needed to overwhelm room lighting.

Buying Recommendations for Every Budget

LG‘s proprietary nanocell technology carries a moderate cost premium over basic LED LCD televisions – but also provides demonstrable better color precision, viewing angles and brightness capabilities justified by their pricing.

However, I suggest considering three price tiers when weighing 4K ultra HDTV options with nanocell offerings at the midrange.

Budget 4K LCD TV

Best Value: Hisense U6H

Attractive option under $500 supplying very respectable colors, contrast and smart features beyond other discount brands. But best suited for darker viewing rooms.

Nanocell Midrange Sweetspot

Best Quality: LG Nano91 Series

LG‘s 2023 mid-upper tier models build on their TV technology strengths with boosted hardware. Expect excellent all-around performance for mixed and unpredictable room lighting at affordable pricing. Competes with premium Edge-lit LEDs costing hundreds more without nanocell color and IPS viewing angle advantages. Go for 65 or 75 sizes.

Flagship Picture Quality

Recommended: Sony Bravia XR A95K

Sony‘s latest mini LED powered sets with advanced XR processors define LCD contrast today while rivaling OLED tons. Impressive brightness and color matched with near-perfect black levels and breathtaking depth. Also consider LG’s G3 OLED evo gallery models for best-in-industry brightness with self-emitting cinematic visuals. Pricing starts above $2500.

While flagship models offer unmatched performance for discerning home theater fans, LG nanocell provides about 90% of that experience for 40% less investment. This makes them a smart choice for discriminating viewers not ready to pay a huge premium for incremental gains. Their competitive versatility across lighting conditions and seating locations cements their recommendations against basic mid-grade LED LCD rivals.

The Next Evolution in Display Technology

As someone calibrating displays for over 5000 clients since 2001, the rapid pace of improvements across color, clarity and contrast metrics never ceases to amaze me. 4K resolution panels already provide all the sharpness needed for ultra realistic images with HDR video introducing a wider palette of colors, luminance and depth.

From dimly lit home theater spaces to family rooms filled with unpredictable lighting, LG nanocell TVs supply stellar and dependable quality. Their IPS foundation enables excellent viewing angles unmatched by other LCD technologies. This versatility combined with strong anti glare properties and market leading peak brightness makes them ideal for dedicated theater spaces as well as household mixed usage situations.

And nanocell‘s professional grade color accuracy ensures streaming movies, sports and gaming shine with nuanced realism previous generations could only dream about. As higher performance miniLED backlights gain adoption, LCD contrast should continue improving until self emissive QD-OLED designs reach attractive pricing levels for the masses.

So as you invest in a new 4K television in 2023 and beyond, definitely place LG nanocell models like the Nano86, 90 and 91 squarely on your evaluation list to appreciate their expansive sweet spot viewing and tremendous color fidelity advantages over basic mid range offerings. While OLED and miniLED televisions stretch performance envelopes further in niche aspects like black level depth or peak luminance points, LG nanocell excels where wide variability in seating positions and ambient lighting conditions warrant flexible solutions. This makes them a savvy choice to maximize enjoyment for both large gatherings and personal viewing in the years ahead.