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 compatible with 4K (aka UHD) LCD sets — helping determine whether well-heeled viewers want the highest resolution available or the best screen quality.
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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 their prohibitive price.
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. 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. 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.