July 23, 2013
Curved OLED TVs Coming to America
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
At this year's CES - formerly the Consumer Electronics Show - the South Korean consumer electronics makers Samsung and LG threw the TV industry a bit of a curve. LG announced a 55-inch Curved OLED TV, model 55EA9800, which began shipping this past April in South Korea.
Now this set is coming to America, but it won't be alone.
LG announced it will begin selling its 55-inch model in the United States through Best Buy and will begin taking pre-orders for two weeks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
The set is reportedly available at select Best Buy Magnolia stores, including those in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and San Antonio. In addition to the "gently curved" 3D screen, the set features LG's WGRB OLED technology and THX certification.
"Our Curved OLED TV is not only the proof of LG's unmatched leadership in next-generation displays but also a testament to LG's commitment to bringing to market the most exciting TV technology available today," Havis Kwon, president and CEO of LG's Home Entertainment Company, said in a statement when the 55-inch set first shipped in South Korea.
In addition to the LG model, Samsung will also introduce the KN55S9, a 55-inch OLED TV that also features a slightly curved screen. It will be available at select dealers in the United States as early as this week, Cnet reported on Tuesday.
Specialty retailer Value Electronics already has a webpage up for the set and noted, "Our 1st KN55S9 OLED TV is scheduled to arrive the week of July 22." The retailer also promised to have a review and evaluation posted on Monday, July 29th. The set will retail for $14,999 and Value Electronics is offering a VIP package that includes calibration by noted TV calibrators Kevin Miller or D-Nice. According to Cnet, the high-end dealer based in Scarsdale, NY may be the first US dealer to sell the new set.
This showdown between the South Korean TV giants is not entirely unexpected. Both companies have been long supporters of the OLED technology.
TV makers have been promising OLED, which stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode, as a Holy Grail for TV technology. It can produce deep and distinct blacks and whites, reproduce vibrant colors and has little motion blur. Moreover the sets promise to be even thinner and brighter than competing LED and plasma technologies.
At 55-inches -- measured diagonally -- the set weighs just 37.5 pounds, a fraction of what other sets of that screen size would weigh.
The issue has been in the cost. There remains some difficulty in producing OLED in large sizes. As such, the prices remain quite high. While other HDTV technologies have steadily fallen in price, it could take a while for history to repeat itself with OLED.
"It will take a long time," for the prices to come down, Han Sang-beom, chief executive of LG Display, told a group of reporters Monday, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
"The world is all about design," he added. "OLEDs allow TV screens to be made as thin as a spoon. TVs can come with curves. Think about how many different applications that could follow."