LG’s New Curved OLED HDTV is $3,499
Is this a sign that OLED pricing is approaching realistic levels?
August 11, 2014 by Grant Clauser

Is LG’s new $3,500 OLED TV an attention-grab or does it reflect a real trend in pricing? Who cares?

For years video and home theater enthusiasts have been gawking at the few OLED smart TVs that manufacturers wave in front of our faces from time to time. It’s clearly the best display technology currently available, but has also been priced so ridiculously high that few people took it seriously.

Until now.

Today LG announced that its 55EC9300 55-inch OLED HDTV is going on sale for $3,499. Yes, that’s a big lump of money for a 55-inch 1080p TV, but keep in mind that just last year the company’s first OLED TV listed for $15K. $14,999! And just like last year’s OLED, this model is also curved.

RELATED: Are OLED TVs Taking Another Step Back?

So what happened? For one thing, LG say’s its WRGB method is more efficient, and therefore more cost effective, than other OLED technologies. Does more efficient production account for the huge price difference? Or is LG simply trying to grab a ton of attention and considers the money that it’s eating is just the cost of getting a new technology off the ground? As I said before, I don’t care, but I hope this trend continues. With plasma technology all but gone from the marketplace, videophiles need something truly spectacular to get excited about.

So, how about a few more details on this TV: First, like most of LG’s new models, the 55EC9300 is a smart TV featuring the company’s webOS interface which makes it easy to slip between broadcast and internet content. Wi-Fi is built in. It comes with LG’s Magic Remote that uses gestures and voice to control the TV. 

The design is bezel-free and slims down to 4.5 millimeters at the edges (a bit thicker in the middle). Unlike last year’s OLED TV, this model is easily wall mounted, though it does come with a stand.

The new TV uses LG’s Triple XD video engine. The company calls the contrast “infinite,” which it’s not, of course, but that should at least tell you that the contrast is probably impressive. It also comes with passive 3D glasses.

You can order one now, but Best Buy gets first dibs on the TV on August 24.

By the way, LG’s other OLED HDTV for 2014 (the 55EA8800) costs $10,000 and is flat rather than curved, so go figure that out.

More articles on new TV technology:
Almost Everything You Need to Know About Ultra HD 4K TVs
Understanding OLED TVs
Samsung Big on UHD and Curved TVs

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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Comments (8) Most recent displayed first.
Posted by Grant Clauser  on  08/21/14  at  02:15 PM

@Steven. Thanks. I can’t wait until they get bigger. To me, a 55 inch TV is still too small. I want OLED in an 80 inch model!

Posted by Steven Rissi  on  08/21/14  at  02:11 PM

By the way Grant, I can’t help giving you a direct plug regarding another recent article in which this display has been highlighted as it clearly proves your original point regarding picture quality in relation to resolution (considering screen size and seating location) vs dynamic range (aka contrast ratio)... http://www.electronichouse.com/article/oled_plasma_and_1080p_win_the_value_electronics_tv_shootout/

I just wish that people were more highly educated around what truly defines a good video image instead of being fed a ton of hype and “better video through marketing…”

Posted by Steven Rissi  on  08/19/14  at  10:58 AM

To be clear, the perceived clarity and detail of passive 3D systems is actually BETTER than that of 1080p active systems. The myth that you’re losing resolution doesn’t account for the way our brain processes visual information.

Dr. Raymond M. Soneira, of DisplayMate has done extensive testing on this issue, below are some of his conclusions:

“Sharpness and Resolution with FPR Passive Glasses

By far the most controversial and misunderstood issue in 3D TV currently has to do with the sharpness and resolution delivered with Passive Glasses. Because they split the odd and even lines between the right and left eyes it’s easy to see why many people (and some reviewers) conclude that FPR technology delivers only half of the HD resolution. Although unsubstantiated it still seems to have evolved into some sort of myth based on hearsay instead of actual scientific visual evaluation. Many people seem to get stuck on this particular issue and can’t get beyond it and think about what is really being seen in actual 3D vision.

But it’s not that simple because we watch TV from a far enough distance that the lines are not resolved and we know that the brain combines the images from both eyes into a single 3D image (the one we actually see) in a process called Image Fusion. The 3D TV images have only horizontal parallax from the horizontally offset cameras, so the vertical image content for the right and left eyes are in fact identical – but with purely horizontal parallax offsets from their different right and left camera viewpoints. So there isn’t any 3D imaging information that is missing because all of the necessary vertical resolution and parallax information is available when the brain combines the right and left images into the 3D image we actually see.”

“3D Sharpness Results

The 3D tests details are documented in the 3D Imaging, Resolution and Sharpness Viewing Tests section, with the results listed in Table 4. They were all done at the closest recommended 3D viewing distance of 6 feet. In all cases the small text (6 to 10 pixels in height) was readable on the FPR Passive Glasses, which definitively establishes that there is excellent 3D Image Fusion and the Passive Glasses deliver full 1080p resolution in 3D. Again, if the Passive Glasses only delivered half the resolution, as some claim, then it would have been impossible to read the small text on the FPR TVs. So those half resolution claims are manifestly wrong – no, ands ifs or buts!

Furthermore, in all cases the small text was actually sharper and easier to read and fine details easier to resolve on the FPR Passive Glasses than on the Active Glasses because of the Crosstalk, ghosting and Response Time issues that reduce 3D image sharpness and 3D contrast in Active Glasses TVs. We also compared the small text 3D visual sharpness to the 2D sharpness by repeatedly turning the 3D mode on and off for each of the TVs and watching in 3D with glasses and then 2D without glasses. In all cases the images were sharper in 2D than in 3D, but the differences were much smaller with the FPR TVs than with the TVs with Active Shutter Glasses. In fact, the small text 3D visual sharpness on the FPR TVs were only slightly less than in 2D, reinforcing our conclusion that the Passive Glasses deliver 3D Image Fusion with full 3D 1080p resolution and are visually sharper in 3D than Active Glasses because of the Crosstalk, ghosting and Response Time issues mentioned above.”

After viewing many different displays and coming to my own conclusions I wholeheartedly agree with his findings, but if you want to read the whole study, it can be found at http://www.displaymate.com/3D_TV_ShootOut_1.htm

I hope this is helpful in clearing up a much misunderstood technology.

Posted by marcuslaw  on  08/12/14  at  08:36 AM

Full 1080p 3D is indeed one of my priorities.  I think it will be sometime before an affordable 65+” OLED comes on the market.  For me, I’ve waited long enough (since 2007) to upgrade from a CCL LCD.

Posted by Grant Clauser  on  08/12/14  at  08:27 AM

Yes, you’re correct about 3D because this TV uses the passive method, and if that’s a high priority, then wait for an active 3D OLED or wait for 4K, which is coming as well, just likely at a much higher price. I’m more bothered by the curve. I hope this trend in curved TVs fades quickly.

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