One thing that TV manufacturers love to do is give their innovations all sorts of fancy-sounding names. The trouble is, it’s often impossible to know whether these names actually count for anything - or if they’ve just been invented by a marketing department to try and entice buyers.
Sometimes, though, they can be both - and such is the case with LG’s NanoCell televisions. Any LG television that comes with the label of NanoCell definitely represents a step-up in quality from their standard 4K models - but, as you’d probably expect, you’ll have to spend a bit more. But is it worth it? Or should you go the extra distance and invest in an OLED set?
In this article, we’re going to take a dive into LG NanoCell technology - what it does, if it’s worth the extra spend, and how it compares to both OLED and QLED. We’ve also picked out some prominent examples of NanoCell televisions currently available from LG. For a complete overview of what you should know before buying a new television, don't miss our best TV to buy guide.
What is a NanoCell TV?
NanoCell televisions don’t offer you any further detail than that which 4K already offers. You still have the same 8-million-or-so pixels at your disposal (you can read our what is a 4K TV guide for an in-depth look at Ultra HD television). NanoCell technology is all about making those pixels look as good as possible.
Sometimes, when reading about innovations in TV tech, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you need a physics degree to understand it. Here’s what LG has to say on its website: "LG Nano Cell technology uses particles to absorb unwanted light wavelengths and enhance the purity of the red and green colours displayed on the screen."
Ultimately, the specifics aren’t that important - far more crucial is what these handy little nano-particles achieve. By having the reds and greens better filtered, what you get is an elevated quality of image that you simply won’t get in standard 4K sets. That filter produces a better colour gamut: that is, a wider range of colours.
What you also get in higher-end NanoCell TVs - like the Nano91 line - is something called Full Array Local Dimming technology, or FALD. This is an intelligent tech that dims the television’s backlight when dark sections of an image appear - think shadows and night scenes. Anybody who knows the basics of OLED technology will recognise this as something that those televisions deliver, albeit more effectively and for a heftier price.
Ultimately this is where NanoCell televisions have been positioned by LG: as a less costly alternative to OLED (of which LG do some incredible examples) for people who are seeking out a viewing quality that’s that bit better than standard LCD/4K. They also come with a wealth of extra features - they support HDR Dolby Vision content (a HDR format Netflix offers) and feature Dolby Atmos sound. Many LG NanoCell TVs also have the Google Assistant built into their smart platforms, offering you voice control over your set.
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LG NanoCell TV vs OLED: what's better?
OLED, put bluntly. As you can read in our what is an OLED TV explainer, these top-end televisions are the reigning champion among mass-market televisions in terms of sensory experience. Not having that built-in backlight, they’re far slimmer than NanoCell TVs too. That’s why, as a general rule, you’ll be spending at least £1,200 on a set, while NanoCell TVs start at £650. At the bottom of this article we've picked out a number of LG NanoCell TVs on the market.
Given the price difference, it’s not fair to make a straight comparison between NanoCell and OLED. Instead, we should look at the closest equivalent: QLED.
LG NanoCell TV vs QLED: what's better?
QLED is a display technology that’s been developed by Samsung’s. Like NanoCell, it sits in the market as a kind of affordable middle-ground between standard 4K televisions and OLED. Similar to NanoCell, it still makes use of a traditional LED backlight, but uses a layer of ‘quantum dots’ to help optimise those image pixels.
We haven’t done a direct test, but we can tell you that NanoCell televisions are widely acknowledged to display a brighter image, while QLED televisions deliver blacker blacks. Think about whether you watch TV with the overhead lights on or in relative gloom: this should help you decide which is the better option.
For a wider look at how LG and Samsung compare as rival brands, don't miss our LG or Samsung TV article.
Is a NanoCell TV worth it?
Yes, if you’re unable - or unwilling - to spend the big bucks on an OLED set.
What's important to remember is that LG is one of the UK market’s leading TV brands. According to a nationwide survey, approximately 11 million people in the UK own an LG television (that’s beaten only by Samsung at 15 million). The webOS platform that is incorporated into LG’s smart televisions is widely acknowledged as the one of the very best, so that might help you make your mind up. You can read more about webOS in our what is a smart TV piece. Ultimately, if you buy an LG television, you can be certain you're getting one of a certain pedigree.
If you’re thinking about buying a NanoCell television, our advice is that you browse Samsung’s QLED at the same time. Make sure you know the right size (check out the TV size guide), and then we think it’s a case of comparing prices of each brand. It may well come down to one of them being on sale, and one not.
LG NanoCell TVs on the market
As we’ve said, NanoCell televisions are priced well under that of an OLED model, where your spending will start in the four figures (for now, at least). By contrast, you'll be spending not that much over £500 for the cheapest NanoCell televisions, such as the 55-inch inch NANO796NF.
Like all TVs, NanoCells don't necessarily get pricier the bigger they get. Because it's from a newer generation, the 49-inch NANO866NA 4K NanoCell TV costs more than the model above, as does the NANO866NA 4K NanoCell TV of the same size. We're seeing both cost around the £750 mark.
- Buy the LG 49-inch NANO866NA 4K NanoCell TV from Amazon
- Buy the LG 55-inch NANO866NA 4K NanoCell TV from Amazon
Prices draw closer to the £1,000 mark once you get to the 65-inch models, such as the following two models. Take note, though: these big sets are still markedly cheaper than OLEDs that are smaller in size.
- Buy the LG 65-inch NANO866NA 4K NanoCell TV from Amazon
- Buy the LG 65-inch NANO906NA 4K NanoCell TV from Amazon
One you reach that 75-inch zone, you’ll see prices both rise and start to vary wildly. The £500-odd price difference from the two televisions below boils down to the generation of model.
- Buy the LG NANO796NF 75-inch, 4K NanoCell TV from Very
- Buy the LG NANO906NA 75-inch 4K NanoCell TV from AO
The main takeaway from this - especially with the larger sets - is that keeping an eye on prices is a good idea, especially during peak sales periods like Black Friday. If you’re not hellbent on getting the latest NanoCell off the production line, you can easily end up getting a quietly magnificent TV for not much more than a standard LCD 4K TV.
Upgrading your TV setup? Make sure to take a look at our best soundbar recommendations.