The LG 55EM9600 is a forthcoming OLED that promises amazing picture quality, but it will be priced for serious enthusiasts only.
Television manufacturer LG says that by 2016, its organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, televisions will cost the same as an LCD TV. In the second half of 2012, the company will take its first step toward that goal with the 55-inch 55EM9600.
The LG 55EM9600 won CNET's highest honor at the Consumer Electronics Show in January with the promise of revolutionary picture quality in an incredibly slim design. It and Samsung's ES9500 will be the first big-screen OLED-based televisions to enter mass production.
Pricing hasn't been announced yet, but reports vary between "astronomical" and "holy $!" One Korean paper said the LG will retail for approximately $8,000 U.S. in Korea, while CNET Asia's Philip Wong was told it could command up to $10,000 U.S. Samsung's OLED has similar unofficial reported pricing.
LG also has not stated a definitive launch date, saying only to expect a launch sometime in second half of 2012. One report pegs an arrival date as early as July to the US, Korea and Europe.
At only 0.157 inch thick, the 55EM9600 is the thinnest TV we've ever heard of, and about half as thick as Samsung's OLED. LG integrates carbon fiber-reinforced plastics into the rear of the television, which provides reinforcement and keeps the weight down to a feathery 22 pounds.
Beyond its striking thinness, OLED has the potential to outperform any current flat-panel display technology. Wong got a hands-on look at the EM9600 and said 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 cell 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 color 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 says 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 color gamut." CNET's Wong noted "negligible color shift when viewing a scene directly in front of the panel compared with viewing it from the sides".
The 55EM9600 sports a wealth of picture quality enhancements including a 120 percent NTSC color gamut Imaging Science Foundation with (ISF) professional calibration. The TV also has a 120Hz refresh rate that should minimize judder.
You can expect all of LG's current bells and whistles, including smart TV with streaming and social media, the new Magic Motion remote with "four modes," and passive 3D. The last feature surprised us since OLED is arguably more akin to plasma than LCD -- it doesn't require a backlight -- and LG's 2012 plasmas feature active 3D technology.
A breakout media box, a necessity since the TV is too thin to accommodate conventional HDMI inputs, also doubles as a stand and features a unique optical AV connection between itself and the TV. The television also has a Second Display function for streaming TV shows, movies, and recorded programs from the panel to mobile devices.
We hope to have a full CNET review as soon as possible.