Samsung’s long-awaited, super-thin and elegant curved OLED TV is finally set to hit the market in the USA. Known as the Samsung KN55S9, the 55-inch curved OLED television is set to land on the shelves of select dealers by the end of this week.
The news comes from US website CNet, which reports that high-end HDTV retailer Value Electronics is set to get its hands on two units later this week. According to the technology site, the TVs will go on sale at $15,000 (about £9,750), with the price tag including delivery and tuning by professional calibrators.
The announcement means that Samsung should become the first TV manufacturer to launch a curved OLED display in the States, although it seems LG isn’t that far behind. The rival Korean company has simultaneously announced it’s began taking pre-orders for its own Curved OLEDs through Best Buy’s Magnolia store, though it’s unclear when it will actually ship.
What Happened to ‘Straight’ OLEDs?
More interesting is the fact that both Samsung and LG appear to be promoting curved screen OLEDs ahead of regular flat screens. Both companies have produced flat-screen OLED TVs – in fact these were their only incarnations for a full year before we first saw the curved variety at January’s CES – yet neither model has been brought to market in the USA, despite LG and Samsung both announcing their availability in South Korea.
Why a curved screen? Well, according to Samsung, it’s just better. The concave angle means that each part of the screen remains equidistant from the viewer’s eyes, which means that the picture appears less distorted. We can’t say for sure how true that is, but those who got a glimpse of the technology at CES were duly impressed. There could be one drawback though – as Value Electronics states on its website, the optimum viewing distance is between six and ten feet away, with no more than four viewers recommended to watch at long distance. That means it could cause problems for larger groups of viewers.
OLED or 4K, Who’s Gonna Win?
One item that’s been less discussed is the possible confusion that’ll arise from having two revolutionary, but distinct, display technologies hit the market at the same time. The curved OLEDs arrive just weeks after the first 4K Ultra HD TVs hit the stores, and the question of which technology will be the next big thing, or if there’s room for both of them, remains unanswered.
There are clear advantages to both technologies – on the one hand, OLED is said to offer a noticeably better picture quality with deeper blacks and brighter colours. 4K on the other hand is best suited to larger screen resolutions, enabling those whopping 85-inch monsters to take pride of place in the living room without sacrificing on the image quality.
Then again, maybe the real future of TV lies in a convergence of the two technologies? We saw prototype 4K Ultra HD OLED TVs from Sony and Panasonic at CES earlier this year, though to date neither company has brought such a device to the market.