LG just altered the TV landscape. Today, the company announced that one of its 55-inch OLED televisions is now available for pre-order in the U.S. for $3500, offering videophiles an affordable alternative to the now-discontinued plasma television. LG says Best Buy will be the first to sell the new curved OLED set starting August 24, and is accepting pre-orders now at BestBuy.com.
While $3500 might seem like a pretty steep price for a 55-inch TV, consider this: LG’s one and only OLED TV model last year, the 55EA9800, was introduced at $11,000 before dropping it to $8000 shortly thereafter. That makes $3500 an enticingly low price of entry, especially considering that OLED TVs provide picture quality that is without rival. To add a little more perspective, Panasonic’s top 55-inch plasma model, the P55VT60, cost $2300 when it was first introduced.
The announcement comes at a convenient time for TV enthusiasts, as the best plasma televisions are now all but impossible to come by. The end of the plasma TV’s reign of supremacy began in October 2013, when Panasonic announced that it was to cease plasma production. More recently, Samsung, Panasonic’s chief competitor in the plasma TV space, followed suit, and has now discontinued its own plasma TV line. This left a void that OLED TVs promised to fill. Until now, pricing was prohibitive.
Related: OLED vs. Plasma, which is better?
It’s important to note that the 55EC9300, though technically LG’s “entry level” OLED TV with a max resolution of 1080p (not 4K), is still a premium product. The set is only available with a curved screen, and it comes with LG”s excellent webOS operating/smart TV platform. If you want a flat OLED TV, you’ll have to look at the much pricier ($5,000) 55EA8800, also known as the “Gallery OLED,” a panel made to look like a piece of art, and featuring one knockout of an audio system. If you’re looking for something bigger, you’ll have to wait, and likely pay more. LG has previously announced plans for a 65-inch curved HD model, and a 77-inch curved Ultra HD 4K model, due out later this year.
LG is a sort of lone ranger in the push to propogate OLED televisions at this time. Sony and Panasonic have both backed off of OLED TV development and production, citing OLED TV production as difficult and expensive. Samsung doesn’t appear to be making a big push toward OLED televisions at this time either, favoring Ultra HD 4K LED TVs instead. However, the company does still offer its excellent KN55S9C.
It’s common for consumer electronics companies to paint themselves as the “leaders” in a given product space, but that kind of chest-puffing is usually just marketing bravado. In this case, however, it would appear that LG really is the market leader for OLED televisions.
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