LG and Samsung are always vying for "world's first" accolades, especially when it comes to 4K TVs and curved TVs, and it looks like LG will be adding another victory (however esoteric) to its column. They say they will be the for the first 4K OLED TV on sale in the US.
Like anything organic, it's more expensive than a generic 4K TV set, with a price of $9,999. It's also a mouthful to say: The 65-inch LG Ultra HD 4K OLED TV model 65EC9700.
That didn't stop the first US consumers at the Video & Audio Center in Santa Monica from writing checks - and in one case, paying in cash - for the brand new television.
"It's for the beach house," said one of the early adopters at the Los Angeles-based store that's located near Beverly Hills. These buyers were being welcomed into what LG calls the "future of TV," and more stores nationwide will carry the display next month.
What makes this 4K OLED TV better?
It's the marriage of OLED and 4K Ultra HD technology that helps this LG set stand out in the stimulating Video & Audio Center. That's hard to do with top-of-the-line displays wall-to-wall.
LG packs the OLED with WRGB technology so that each pixel is made up of four sub-pixels. In the end, it equals about 33 million sub-pixels and more lifelike color and detail.
There's also no backlight thanks to the OLED tech onboard. This 4K television is therefore able to provide infinite contrast ratio with an immeasurable contrast ratio.
We also appreciated the "leaf-shaped" subtle curve of the screen. It's not as drastic compared to some televisions earlier this year. Hopefully that's a sign of things to come for CES 2015.
The slight curve is combined with a razor-thin design that's less than a quarter of an inch. It's edge-to-edge display stretches the screen for a frameless, bezel-less "Cinema Screen" look.
LG OLED 4K vs Samsung LED 4K
Deep blacks were no more evident than when LG sat its 4K OLED beside some S-named competitor's curved 4K LED TV. It sure wasn't Sony or Sharp, in case you're wondering.
The curved Samsung set had a very narrow viewing cone. Picture quality looked washed out unless directly in front of the set compared to the LG 4K OLED.
Both TVs were purposely not in the often misleading "store mode" that jacks up the brightness and the demo showed a mix of 4K on a loop and 2K uprezzed content taken from a DVR.
Of course, it goes without saying that normal 4K LED sets are a third of the price of LG's 4K OLED and normal HDTVs are now move the decimal point one place to the left at $1,000.
65EC9700 has a good introductory price, especially for the specs and proven comparison, but it's still too steep for most and, importantly needs more 4K content.
Future-proofing vs waiting for content
The early adopters buying into LG's OLED 4K sets aren't going to be able to fully enjoy what they're capable of just yet. Very little content is in native 4K.
Most content we watched was being upscaled to a "near 2K resolution," LG told us at the Santa Monica launch. Its OLED looked good, but its full potential hasn't even been realized.
LG is at least pushing to create more 4K broadcasts, doing what it does best: a "world's first," broadcasting a concert streamed in Ultra HD with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.
It's been a long wait for content. LG held a similar event at a Video & Audio Center store in Los Angeles two years ago when it launches the industry's first 84-inch 4K Ultra HDTV.
Everyday consumers can hold onto their checkbooks and keep their piles of cash stuff under their not-beach-house mattress with expected price drops and increases in video content.
From our seat at the Video & Audio Center, LG's 4K OLED technology seems like the future, but one fit for early adopters at this point at time.
We'll have more about this set in a full LG 65EC9700 review once we get to toy with the WebOS Smart TV capabilities and upscale our own content.