LG announced overnight that it will be making the first 55-inch OLED TV available to the public next month in South Korea for a cost of around US$10,000. Select Korean stores will begin taking pre-orders tomorrow.
LG's 55EM9700, which measures 0.16 inches thick, will be the first large-screen OLED TV available for sale.
LG said that it would announce availability in additional markets "over the next several weeks". We're taking a wild guess that more will be said at the company's 8am (Las Vegas time) Consumer Electronics Show (CES) press conference on 7 January.
The television, model 55EM9700, is the successor to the 55EM9600, which won CNET's highest honoor at the CES in January 2012, but never actually shipped. Judging from LG's press release, the two TVs appear to be basically identical.
Promising revolutionary picture quality in an incredibly slim design, LG's 55-inch OLED TV might be worth the wait. At just over 4mm thick, it's the thinnest TV we've ever heard of, and about half as thick as the OLED Samsung TV announced last year. LG integrates carbon fibre-reinforced plastics into the rear of the television, which provides reinforcement and keeps the weight down to a feathery 10kg.
Beyond its striking thinness, OLED has the potential to outperform any current flat-panel display technology. CNET Asia's Philip Wong got a hands-on look at the EM9600 and said that it had the "deepest blacks we've seen among flat-screen TVs".
While the public may remember Sony's 11-inch XEL-1 from a couple of years ago, and be familiar with the AMOLED screens of various mobile phones and the PlayStation Vita, LG's 55-inch OLED TV features a unique spin on the technology that involves a fourth "white" subpixel. The TV has a white pixel layer with a colour RGB filter over the top, and the fourth pixel is left unfiltered. In comparison, Samsung's ES9500 uses native red, green and blue OLED pixels.
LG has said that the TV uses a proprietary algorithm designed to improve and refine hues and tones when viewed from a wide angle. According to LG, other OLED TVs "exhibit drastic changes in hues from different viewing angles and abnormal colour gamut". Our colleague Wong also noted "negligible colour shift when viewing a scene directly in front of the panel, compared with viewing it from the sides".
Although the press release wasn't specific, we expect the set to include all of LG's new 2013 Smart TV bells and whistles, including the new Magic Motion remote with voice control and passive 3D.
We also expect the EM9700 to include the breakout media box found on the EM9600, a necessity, since the TV is too thin to accommodate conventional HDMI and other inputs. It also doubles as a stand and features a unique optical AV connection between itself and the TV. We wouldn't be surprised if LG made another version of the TV soon, sans external box.