LG to sell first OLED 4K TV -- for $11K

The OLED sets will come with curved screens

LG Electronics today announced it is now selling the world's first OLED TV with 4K (3840 x 2160-pixel) resolution.

The sets, available in 77-in. and 65-in. screen sizes, will come in a curved panel form factor. The 65-in model will retail for about $11,700. Pricing for the 77-in has not yet been released.

LG will begin taking pre-orders for the two models starting in Korea this week, with availability in North America and Europe to follow soon after.

The company plans on demonstrating the technology at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin from September 5-10.

OLED UHD TV
LG's 55-in. curved-screen, OLED UHD TV was displayed at CES in January. (Image: LG).

OLED, which stands for organic light-emitting diodes, promises larger, lighter screens with the ability to retain consistent color from even the widest of viewing angles.

According to IHS Technology, there are several advantages that OLED TVs have over traditional LED-backlight LCD TVs. For example, the sets have superior contrast ratio because self-emitting pixels allow for deeper blacks; the displays are extremely thing; and they have better and more "real life colors" because of a wider range over LCD TVs.

LG's OLED TVs use a proprietary four-color pixel WRGB (white, red, green, blue) technology, with 33 million sub-pixels working to produce the LG's contrast ratio. Typically, high-definition TVs have an RGB-color pixel scheme.

OLED TVs were first launched in the US market during the second half of 2013, with a 55-inch 1080p resolution, curved model from LG priced at $10K. According to IHS Technology, however, fewer than 500 units were shipped in the US for that year.

"Since its then, the retail price for this television has decreased sharply and its now sold for as low as $3,500. Nevertheless, this price is still significantly higher than of a comparable 55-inch UHD TV, which sells for around $2,000," said Veronica Gonzalez-Thayer, an analyst for IHS's Consumer Electronics group.

As more screen sizes and brands become available, according to Gonzalez-Thayer, prices will continue to decrease, becoming more accessible, and therefore increasing sales.

However, OLED TVs will always have a high premium price against LED TVs, even those in ultra-high definition. And, advancements in LED technology are producing TVs with improved contrast ratio, colors, etc., making it more difficult for OLED TVs to differentiate and justify their premium price, Gonzalez-Thayer added.

IHS predicts that around 14,000 OLED TV units will be shipped in the US during 2014, and that number will increase to close to 1.2 million units in 2018.

LG's OLED products are also "smart TVs" in that they can connect to the Internet for content streaming. The TVs will run WebOS, the platform created by Palm, which LG acquired last year.

"LG 4K OLED TV is the pinnacle of technological achievement and a new paradigm that will change the dynamics of the next-generation TV market," Hyun-hwoi Ha, CEO of LG's Home Entertainment division, said in a statement. "As the next evolutionary step in display technology, OLED will play a major role in reshaping our industry. I feel confident when I say that 4K OLED is a bona fide game changer."

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