I was lucky enough to sample firsthand the incredible viewing experience offered by big screen OLED TVs at the IFA 2012 booth of consumer electronics giants LG and Samsung last year. Both companies have new models scheduled for commercial availability in early 2013 and both, it would appear, are claiming a world first at CES in Las Vegas this week ... each claiming to be first to debut a curved OLED TV.
Unfortunately, it's early days for detailed information, but here's what we've learned about both of these impressive-looking goggle-boxes. First up, LG's 55-inch EA9800 model features what's described as a gentle inward flex that's said to place the entire screen surface at equal distance from the viewer's eyes, to eliminate screen edge distortion and loss of detail.
The 3D HDTV is constructed from lightweight-but-strong carbon fiber reinforced plastic and is described as being about the same thickness as three credit cards. It benefits from the company's proprietary WRGB technology and Color Refiner previously seen in the flat panel model, and its infinite contrast ratio includes an HDR algorithm for vivid colors and deep blacks. CINEMA 3D passive technology is supported, and LG says that a narrow bezel and Smart Touch Controls (located below the screen) ensure distraction-free viewing, whether the EA9800 sits on the cabinet in the corner or hangs on the wall courtesy of the included easy-to-install wall mount.
As you might expect, there's no word on price or availability at this time. However, with the flat panel 55-inch OLED model set for U.S. delivery in March 2013 with a price tag of US$12,000, this new family member is unlikely to be aimed at the thriftier end of the consumer market.
Try as we might, we just couldn't persuade the LG rep at CES to part with any more information, though we were very impressed with the image quality and smooth delivery. The impressively clear 3D images really popped out from its screen and the curve certainly made viewing a good deal more immersive.
If you thought that LG was keeping things close to its chest, then you'll be a little frustrated at the distinct lack of information from Samsung. The company hasn't yet given a model number to its 55-inch, 1080p offering, referring to it simply as the Curved OLED TV. According to the official line, the curvy panel offers viewers the same image quality from any angle (not just dead-center, as you might assume).
This creates a panorama-effect (something akin to an IMAX experience, perhaps) that's not possible with flat-panel TVs, appearing to surround the viewer with captivating scenes from nature or vast landscapes.
As with LG, there's been no mention of when consumers will get the chance to sit in front of this new model (the Super OLED TV earmarked for release last year has yet to appear), or how much it will cost.
We'll be keeping a keen eye open for more details, so do keep checking back.