Six months ago, many in the consumer electronics industry had written off large-screen OLED TVs as being dead before arrival. Quality-control issues were preventing manufacturers like LG and Samsung from bringing their long-promised 55-inch OLEDs to market. Instead, these companies had shifted their priorities to Ultra HD. Back at CES, LG assigned a $12,000 price tag and March release date to its 55-inch OLED TV. When the ides of March had come and gone (along with the rest of the month) and no TV arrived, that seemed to be the final nail in the coffin, at least in terms of public perception.
Then, LG and Samsung surprised everyone in late July and early August when they actually introduced OLED TVs to the U.S. market. These weren’t just “coming soon” announcements like the ones we had heard so many times before. They were real OLED TVs that you could actually buy, but they weren’t the exact models shown at earlier shows. Instead, we got a pair of curved 55-inch OLED TVs. LG was first to the plate with the 55EA9800, which originally carried an MSRP of $14,999. Samsung followed shortly thereafter with the KN55S9C and shocked us all with a price point of $8,999.99. At first, LG asserted that Samsung’s lower price point would not influence their own, but the 55EA9800 now has a listed MSRP of $9,999.99.
Yes, we’re talking $10,000 for a 55-inch 1080p TV. That’s a premium far above almost any other similarly-sized plasma or LCD TV currently on the market, including the new Ultra HD models. What does OLED bring to the table that makes it worth the big step up in price? In three words, contrast, contrast, contrast. We’ve discussed how OLED display technology works and covered its potential advantages in previous stories. In a nutshell, because OLED is a self-emitting technology in which each pixel generates its own light, it is capable of offering up absolute blacks in tandem with very bright elements, which results in image contrast that surpasses anything plasma and LCD can muster. Plasma pixels are also self-emitting, but the pixels have to be primed, which results in some light being emitted – it’s a very small amount of light in the case of
By Adrienne Maxwell, HomeTheaterReview