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OLED Making a Comeback Thanks to LG, Panasonic, and Sony

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This year has been a weird one for videophiles—or at least for that subset of videophiles who tend to buy TVs instead of projection systems. Panasonic and Samsung both laid plasma to rest, and the spiritual successor to plasma—OLED—seemed for the longest time to be going nowhere in terms of market penetration or new product announcements. And the funny thing is, you can blame both of those facts (the death of plasma and the long, slow climb for OLED) on the rise of Ultra HD.

Plasma, after all, cannot be affordably produced in reasonable sizes at resolutions any higher than 1080p. And OLED, when it was first introduced to market last year, was more expensive in its HD incarnation than the new LED-lit LCD UHD screens at the time.

But according to a new story at HDGuru.com, the 4K OLED display that LG teased at CES is finally on its way to market. And the price is much, much better than I would have guessed. According to leaked information obtained by the HD Guru himself, the new LG 65-inch Ultra HD OLED TV will ship this year with a suggested retail price of $8,999, but an actual selling price of closer to $6,999. That puts it within reasonable striking range of LG’s own 65-inch LED-lit UHD, the 65LA9700, which carries a $7,499 MSRP.

So, why all the fuss over OLED when you can get the LED for cheaper? Mostly because, as I said, OLED is the real successor to the plasma TVs that we video junkies so cherished, in that it’s self-illuminating, boasts exquisite black levels, excellent viewing angles, and rock-solid screen uniformity.

According to the story at HDGuru.com:

The LG 65EC9700 will ship at the end of September. It has a curved screen like the Samsung’s UN65HU9000 . Features include LGs Smart TV streaming, Tru-Ultra HD Engine for upconversion, Passive 3D (glasses included), Built-in Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, web browser, 4 HDMI inputs, 3 USB inputs, HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2, Miracast and MHL connectivity, LG’s Magic Remote with motion control and a 40-watt 4 channel speaker system.

If I have one wish, it’s that LG would also introduce a flat model in the reasonably near future. I’ve definitely dropped out of the “curved TVs are stupid” camp, but the fact remains that curved displays aren’t always ideal for every room, depending on screen size and room size, not to mention the fact that many of the benefits of curvature on image quality don’t really apply to OLED screens.

Incidentally, that isn’t the only OLED news to come out of HDGuru.com in the past week or so. The site is also reporting that Sony and Panasonic are back in the OLED business together, as part of a venture called JOLED, whose goal is to “accelerate the development and commercialization of OLED panels.” It seems that the initial focus is on the development of small- and medium-sized OLED displays, designed for tablets, laptops, etc. But you can bet that some shiny new TV technology will result from the venture, as well.