Most large electronics manufacturers choose CES to make big announcements. But it's not often that two companies separately debut two products as similar to one another as Sony and Panasonic's 56-inch Ultra HD 4K OLED televisions.
The two displays are essentially identical in quality, and even Sony and Panasonic's representatives on the convention floor struggled to describe any meaningful differences between the two when pressed by TechRadar.
Yet both televisions are being shown off at CES with kiosks that describe them as the "world's largest 4K OLED" TV (Sony's booth even says "world's first").
In fact, a Sony representative divulged to TechRadar that they had no idea they'd each debut a 56-inch 4K OLED display - otherwise their choice of words ("world's first") might have been different.
Panasonic: with 'printing technology'
A representative of Panasonic told TechRadar that the company actually collaborated with Sony to develop the printing-based technology that will make it easier to mass-produce large 4K resolution OLED TVs.
With this method, "OLED materials are applied to the substrate through a printing technique to form an electroluminescent (EL) layer," according to a press release distributed by Panasonic on Tuesday.
The Panasonic rep told TechRadar that while Panasonic's 4K OLED TV has "the same picture quality" as others, like Sony's, the printing production method will ultimately prove more cost-effective and allow Panasonic to more easily produce 4K OLED TVs of varying sizes.
Sony: 'We have the expertise'
Sony's 56-inch Ultra HD OLED TV was not made with the "printing technology" described by Panasonic, but with the same "Super Top Emission" technology that Sony has used to make its other OLED displays, a Sony representative told TechRadar.
"We have the expertise," he said. "We feel this is close to production-level technology."
Nevertheless, both Sony and Panasonic's 4K OLED 56-inchers at CES are only prototypes. Each display looks positively gorgeous, with the crispest images, brightest colors and deepest blacks that are possible with current television technology.
Sony was even showing off footage running on the prototype TV in both 30 and 60 frames per second, and both looked phenomenally crisp.
The higher frame rate video in particular looked fantastic, without a hint of the "soap opera effect" that often plagues footage that's up-converted to a higher FPS.
Though neither company was able to provide any hints as to pricing or release dates for 56-inch 4K OLED TVs, it's clear that the technology needed to produce such displays is on the verge of being ready for mass use.
Now it's only a matter of time.
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