LG Electronics has launched the world’s first 4K curved OLED TV at a London event yesterday. HDTVTest was present to witness what surely must be the future of television – if it indeed takes off. Judging from LG’s sentiments and what we’ve seen, there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t.
On exhibit at the event was a 77-inch curved Ultra HD OLED TV from the Korean manufacturer (UK model number LG 77EC980V). 4K resolution on a large-screen OLED was truly a great combination – the detail combined with the brightness and richness of colours was just jaw-dropping. We’d seen a lot of the demo material previously on 4K LED LCDs, and while the resolution was the same on both, the impact generated by OLED display technology was in a different league.
Shadow detail too was highly impressive. If like us, you’re used to the way a plasma display panel (PDP) renders video images, you’ll be taken aback by how clean and stable low-light areas are, without any near-black dithering.
It’s not all perfect though: because the 77in curved 4K OLED television on display was probably the same one shown at IFA 2013 and CES 2014, it was looking the worse for wear. There were some image retention and screen inconsistencies/ distortions as well as a degree of banding, which we’re unsure if they originated from the content or the in-TV processing. This screen was a pre-production unit made some time ago, so it would be very unfair to judge the production models based on what we saw at yesterday’s event. It’s something we’ll be keeping an eye on nevertheless.
On the production front, it’s been reported that LG plans to set up a second production line at its Gen-8 plant. An LG spokesperson at the event told HDTVTest that this is correct. The first line was meant to produce 26,000 substrates (180,000 55-inch screens), with the second producing 34,000. We hear that the output from the first can be increased to 34,000 too, giving the company the capacity to produce over 5 million OLED TV panels in a full year. According to LG, the yield has now exceeded 80%, gradually closing in on the 98% achieved by typical LCD-making facilities.
The 65-inch LG 65EC970V and 77-inch 77EC980V will be available to buy in October, priced at £5,999 and £19,999 respectively. Even at £20k, LG optimistically estimates global sales of 10,000 units for the 77-incher in a year. When quizzed about the availability of a 55-inch version, LG said that it will come sometime later, though it appears the company will be concentrating on the larger models this year, since they show the benefits of 4K ultra high-definition (UHD) more readily.
We also heard very little of flat-screen OLEDs, with LG stating they will come but not just yet. We got the impression that LG really believes in the curved screen concept, although unfortunately this appears to be at odds with the majority of the enthusiast market who are crying out for flat screens.
We also probed LG for some technical info on its upcoming 4K OLED TVs. Exact details are not finalised yet, but the Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL) will be a lot less aggressive in the UHD OLED televisions. They will also use less power. We may also need a new way to measure panel life – our source revealed that the screens will remain close to their brand-new state for 30,000 hours. It’s unclear what happens after that but we assume some sort of gradual reduction in performance.
Based on what we’ve seen, there’s no longer a need to mourn the passing of plasma. October can’t come quick enough.