With last week’s unveiling of LG’s one-step-closer-to-production 55-inch OLED TV, the question we’ve been asked is: I want to upgrade my TV, should I hold off my TV purchase until OLED hits the market?
The short answer here is no.
And whenever you see the phrase “short answer” anywhere, it’s bound to be followed by a significantly longer answer, and here ’tis…
We’re no longer in the period where the price of OLED displays is the in the realm of oil-baron-buys-football-club crazy. Does anyone remember 2009’s 11-inch Sony XEL-1, which retailed for a shade under AU$7000?
If our guesstimates are correct, then Samsung’s and LG’s 55-inch OLED TVs will retail here for somewhere north of AU$10,000. That represents significantly improved value over the XEL-1, but it’s still not fantastic in absolute terms, as you can pick up a range-topping 55-inch LCD TV for at least half that, if not closer to AU$3.5K.
And, as much as we love OLED’s deep blacks, rich colours and wonderful viewing angles, the anticipated asking price is, for those of us not sitting on a large sum of oil, natural gas or iron ore, a lot to shell out for a TV. If it was our money, we’d live with the limitations of an LCD display and wait.
If not now, when?
Samsung’s and LG’s 55-inch OLED TVs are set to launch later this year in key overseas markets, such as the US and Europe. We’re likely to see them on sale just in time for the Christmas rush, although nothing’s been confirmed yet. Mind you, if they prove to be popular, they may not arrive in Australian stores until the first months of 2013.
This means that even if you were cashed up enough and wanted to have an OLED TV right here, right now, you can’t.
Our trusty crystal ball says that it will be at least three years before OLED TVs are in the same pricing ballpark as LCD TVs. In the first year that the 55-inch OLED TVs are on sale, they’ll be targeted towards early adopters who will to pay the hefty, but not entirely laughable, asking price.
In year two, prices will be cut by around 25 to 35 per cent, with smaller OLED sets hopefully dragging the entry price down still further. By this point, there should be a few more manufacturers entering the fray, such as the reported Sony and Panasonic partnership. Come the third year, there will be another round of price cuts in the order of 25 to 35 per cent, and the price difference between OLED and LCD TVs should hopefully be under the AU$2000 mark.
At this stage in the evolution of OLED TV, it will be possible for some of us to weigh the benefits of OLED versus LCD and ask ourselves: are the benefits worth the premium?