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CES 2013: OLED TV roundup

LG takes pole position in OLED TV race at CES 2013

Could 2013 be the year in which you’ll finally be able to buy an OLED TV? Well, if you have at least £10,000 to spend, chances are you’re in luck.

LG 55EM8800 55EM880V side view

LG was the only manufacturer at CES with a serious line-up of OLED TVs, with no fewer than three 55in models. Crucially, they all had part numbers and pre-orders are already being taken for one model – the 55EM9700 - in South Korea.

Rich customers who can stump up the $12,000 can expect to get their TV in February. A UK launch is planned for later this year for the same model - called the 55EM970V in the UK - with an expected price of £10,000+.

LG also showed another 55in model, the 55EM8800, presumably the 55EM880V in the UK, with a distinctive 'Flamingo' stand. You can see this in the photo below - the one above shows the TV's amazingly thin profile.

LG 55EM8800 55EM880V Flamingo

The past few years have seen many broken promises: no matter how much money you had, it was impossible to buy an OLED TV. Excuses ranged from high failure rates to cost to the state of the economy, but it looks as it OLED TVs might just become a reality this year.

Why spend all that money on a 55in OLED TV that has the same old 1920x1080 resolution as today’s TVs which cost five times less? It’s a fair question, but until you’ve seen an OLED TV in action, it’s hard to understand just how much of a quality jump there is between OLED and existing LED and plasma sets.

Because OLED is around 1000 times faster than LCD, images appear super-sharp and more detailed, despite the same resolution. Plus, since each OLED pixel can be turned off, blacks are truly black.

For a more in-depth look at how OLED works and how it compares to plasma and LCD, see What is an OLED TV?

Curved and 4K OLED TVs

Both Samsung and LG showed off curved OLED TVs, which claim to give a more immersive IMAX-style experience. LG said its model had a five-degree curve, but Samsung didn’t give any information at all.

Panasonic 4K OLED TV

Not to be outdone, Panasonic and Sony demoed 4K ultra-HD OLED TVs, with Panasonic claiming to have the world’s largest 4K OLED TV, although it was just one inch bigger at 56in.

LG 55EM9800 curved OLED TV

Although there’s little hope of the masses being able to afford even a full HD OLED TV anytime soon, it’s still great news that LG appears to be on track to ship the first models to those who can afford them within weeks. After a wait of almost a decade, it’s a case of better late than never.

See all CES 2013 coverage.

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