May 10, 2012 at 7:22 PM ET
The first consumer-ready OLED TV from Samsung, which we saw demonstrated this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, is finally ready for prime time. But the 55-inch monster, complete with 3-D, voice and motion control, facial recognition and other smart TV features, won't come cheap.
The company has been touting its OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology for years, but until now it hasn't shipped a full-size TV with it. Supposedly, an ongoing and fundamental problem with the blue pixels was solved recently and the result is this 55-inch flagship model.
OLED displays supposedly offer better contrast and richer color, while also being highly power-efficient and thin. But years of promises have produced very few OLED products: a couple handsets, a small monitor here or there. Part of it is the tech, part is the price, but either way it's only this year that OLED seems to finally be coming into its own.
Unfortunately, few people will be able to afford this initial offering from Samsung. U.S. pricing wasn't announced, but it will be available in Korea later in 2012 for somewhere over 10 million won — about $9,000. That's more than twice what you'd pay for many high-quality displays at the same size using less exotic display technology. LG plans to reveal its own OLED displays late in the year as well.
According to an Associated Press report, Samsung TV head Kim Hyun-suk said at a press event Thursday it will take two or three more years for OLED to trickle down to the mainstream consumer market. In the meantime, it will be found more often in devices like Samsung's Galaxy S III and Galaxy Nexus, both of which have high-definition OLED screens.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.