Would you pay $13,500 to be the first one on your block with a 55-inch OLED TV with a curved screen? Bases on an announcement this week from LG Electronics, which is now taking orders in Korea for the set, that's what you can expect to pay when its 55EA9800 curved OLED TV arrives here in the U.S. later this year. At CES, Samsung also showed an OLED TV with a curved screen, but the company hasn't yet announced pricing and availability.
What's the big deal about OLED—and why would you want a curved screen?
Where Ultra HD TVs are really LCD TVs with higher-resolution (3840x2160) screens, OLED TVs are a new type of television that use organic material (organic light-emitting diodes) to produce images. Like plasma, OLEDs give off their own light, so no separate backlight is required, and they have unlimited viewing angles. And OLED TVs offer unprecedented blacks and contrast levels that make images and colors really pop on the screen.
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We've had a chance to get early looks at Ultra HD TVs from a few companies, including LG, Sony and Seiki. And while picture detail has been razor sharp, in many other ways they performed like LCD TVs, with issues related to backlight uniformity and viewing angle. (For my take on the OLED vs. Ultra HD debate, check out out my post-CES blog, "Forget 4K Ultra HD TVs: I want an OLED TV.") At CES, some companies showed Ultra HD OLED TVs, giving you the best of both worlds.
As far as the curved screen, we asked that question of Samsung at CES, where executives told us that a curved screen provides a more immersive, panoramic viewing experience. In announcing its set, LG said the TV's curved screen provided an "IMAX-like" viewing experience in the home, as the screen is equidistant from all viewers.
LG's set, which is a full-featured model with the company's smart TV platform, has a few other interesting features. One is the set's ultra-slim design: It's just 4.3 millimeters deep (less than .17 inches), and it weighs under 38 pounds. The TV also has thin, transparent speakers built into the clear stand so they don't detract from the TVs aesthetic appeal.
We're eagerly awaiting the first OLED TVs here in the U.S. so we can bring one into our TV labs for testing. At CES, LG said it would offer an OLED TV with a standard flat screen in the first half of 2013, at a price of about $12,000. We'll keep you updated when we get more information about its arrival.
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