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LG's New OLED TV Is 'Cheapest' Yet

Videophiles with a little money to burn now face a difficult choice: Should they buy a 4K TV or an OLED HDTV? LG has announced a $3,500, 55-inch OLED TV available for pre-order at Best Buy. While the price is still too high for an impulse buy, it's less than a quarter of what LG's first 55-inch OLED sold for. And the price is low enough to make it comparable with 4K (aka UHD) LCD sets — helping determine whether shoppers want the highest resolution available or the best screen quality.

OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, is a fascinating technology that's never managed to achieve widespread mainstream appeal. OLED is a thin, fragile, flexible organic material that can display a picture when charged with an electrical current. Supporters love OLED screens for their amazing color, wide viewing angles and ability to achieve essentially absolute black and therefore extremely high contrast. Detractors cite the devices' prohibitive price.

MORE: Are OLED TVs Doomed?

The 55-inch LG Curved OLED TV (55EC9300) is exactly what it sounds like, and will release on Aug. 24. Although only Best Buy is taking pre-orders at the moment, LG assured in a press release that other major retailers will sell the device as well. The TV will also use LG's Smart TV+ webOS interface, letting users stream content from services like Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and Netflix.

Thirty-five hundred dollars might seem like a steep asking price, but LG's first 55-inch OLED TV debuted about a year ago and sold for a staggering $15,000. (At this rate, one wonders whether next year's model will cost $805. Probably not.) OLED manufacturing costs have dropped since then, but the jury is still out on whether consumers really want OLED TVs (or curved ones).

Furthermore, consumer-grade OLED TVs still max out at 1080p resolution. As beautiful as the screen may be, users may not want to shell out the cost of a few months' rent or mortgage for something that won't play all the 4K content that's supposed to come out over the next few years. At present, viewers can buy a curved 55-inch Samsung 4K LED TV at Best Buy for $3,300. This essentially gives consumers an apples-to-apples choice between 4K and OLED TVs for the first time.

Either way, interested users can check the TV out at Best Buy, then determine how much a gorgeous screen is worth to them.

Marshall Honorof is a staff writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • InvalidError
    OLED's mainstream days will come. The road to more cost-efficient manufacturing is just much longer than anyone expected but once we get there, they should become much cheaper than LCDs.
    Reply
  • Merry_Blind
    4K TVs are redundant. OLED TVs seem amazing though. Not only is there virtually no 4K content available, but a lot of average joe consumers actually don't even notice the difference between 720p and 1080p to begin with.

    Also, when you think about it, 4K TVs only benefit 4K content (well duh! I know), and that's to be expected, however, OLED benefits ALL content, HD or not. The colours are better, the contrasts, the motion resolution, everything. That means not only your HD super-charged PC will look better, but also your Nintendo 64 or VHS.
    Reply
  • BleedingEdgeTek
    OLED's mainstream days will come. The road to more cost-efficient manufacturing is just much longer than anyone expected but once we get there, they should become much cheaper than LCDs.

    Where do you get that they will eventually cost much less than LCDs?
    Reply
  • hannibal
    Well actually they have found out in the tests that 1080p material look better in 4K screens than normal 1080p screens thanks to upscaling. Not as good as pure 4K material, but still better.
    So it is really hard to say if Oled 1080p is better or worse than lcd 4K.
    Reply
  • bluestar2k11
    I assume because in time, there won't be any LCD's except at pawn shops lol.

    Anyway, I sooo want OLED in all my displays, I wish i had the money for this TV, wish it came in 24in for computer monitors ;;

    OLED is absolutely beautiful, vibrant display with excellent picture quality, but most of all, excellent colours. So far though, IPS LED displays are close, but not quite to OLED.

    But give it time and we'll see OLED enter more markets and price ranges^^
    Reply
  • neon neophyte
    has the problem with burn in been solved with oled?
    Reply
  • Merry_Blind
    Well actually they have found out in the tests that 1080p material look better in 4K screens than normal 1080p screens thanks to upscaling. Not as good as pure 4K material, but still better.
    So it is really hard to say if Oled 1080p is better or worse than lcd 4K.

    Well I think that might simply be due to superior upscaling algorithms/better processor used in those specific TVs since they're newer/more expensive. I'm sure new OLED TVs will have great upscalers too, in addition to improving the colours, blacks, contrasts, and motion resolution.
    Reply
  • NightLight
    i just bought a samsung oled 78" 4k 3d tv, so nuts to this article.
    Reply
  • jossrik
    Well actually they have found out in the tests that 1080p material look better in 4K screens than normal 1080p screens thanks to upscaling. Not as good as pure 4K material, but still better.
    So it is really hard to say if Oled 1080p is better or worse than lcd 4K.

    Well I think that might simply be due to superior upscaling algorithms/better processor used in those specific TVs since they're newer/more expensive. I'm sure new OLED TVs will have great upscalers too, in addition to improving the colours, blacks, contrasts, and motion resolution.

    Once you're in 1080p there is no upscaling to 1080p.
    Reply
  • Be0wulf22
    i just bought a samsung oled 78" 4k 3d tv, so nuts to this article.

    I call BS. What's the model number? I think you mean LED. Big difference between LED and OLED.
    Reply