"This is the year OLED and 4K go mainstream!" LG Product Showcase 2015 reviewed

posted on Thursday, 5th March 2015 by Steve May

home cinema  4K  Trade show  Invision UK 

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A new generation of super-thin OLED 4K screens will redefine the high performance display market during 2015. That was the promise made by LG at its annual trade product preview, held this week at Mercedes-Benz World. The company confirmed that it would finally introduce 2160p OLED screens this spring, and promised to drive the tech firmly into the mainstream by the end of the year,

“No one else can do this. OLED is our technology!” Robert Taylor, LG UK product manager for home entertainment, told Inside CI. This is why we’ve invested over $1.2billion in development!”

To prove this was chump change well spent, LG demonstrated a variety of content at the event designed emphasise the benefits of OLED - lots of vibrant colours splashing across pure black backgrounds. Significantly though it also screening 4K movie content, and here the incoming UHD TVs looked particularly impressive. A 2160p trailer for The Wolverine (pictured below) offered superb levels of detail with deep cinematic blacks. “OLED probably isn’t a benchmark product to LED, it’s more like a benchmark to the exit of plasma, in terms of pure black and infinite contrast,” said Andy Mackay, LG’s UK Commercial Director. “We’re really excited about bringing 4K and OLED together.”

LG will ship two 65-inch 4K OLEDS, the EC970V (pictured above) and 65EG960V, both expected to retail around £6,500, plus the 55-inch 4K 55EG960V, to be priced around £3800.

Wolverine In 4K Small

4K LED Small

LG is also dramatically expanding its range of 4K LED panels this year, offering everything from 40- to 105-inches screen sizes. The company believes that 4K is on course to become a mainstream product category this year, and is turning over 65 per cent of its TV range to 3840 x 2160 resolution glass. According to the latest market data from GfK, around 200,000 4K TVs were sold in the UK during 2014. But analysts are predicting sales will top one million units for the first time during 2015. “I think it’ll be even higher – and that’s without factoring in content activity,” noted Mackay. “The way the big manufacturers are laying out there ranges becomes the shape of the market.”

No one has doubts that 4K will take off anymore, even without overmuch content. “This is very different to 3D, which was a feature and for many consumers a novelty. The level of 4K upscaling from all brands is quite strong. Our upscaler will take you to 96/97 per cent effectively of native 4K. We will have a market acceleration even without 4K channels.”

As an aside, Mackay confirmed that LG was also looking to leverage the fast developing OTT streaming market. “Yes, we will be forging relationships with content providers,” he said. “We have a particularly strong relationship with Netflix in 4K content.”

Its 4K LED TVs will benefit from two colour enhancement technologies, (Quantum Dot and Wide Colour Gamut) grouped under the Colour Prime marketing banner. The flagship 4K LED screen is the UF950V, available as the 55-inch 55UF950V and the 65-inch 65UF950V. It sports a faster version of the brand’s webOS Smart TV UI, along with a clever Auditorium stand able to bounce up downward firing audio. This will be joined by the 55-inch 55UF860V and 65UF860V. Also coming from LG is an interesting entry-level 4K solution, the 49-inch UF675V (pictured above). This budget model has no Smart connectivity or HEVC decoder, but is ideal for external 4K sources, such as BT’s incoming OTT 4K set top box.

Both OLED and LED 4K screens will feature one or two HDMI 2.0 inputs, with HDCP 2.2 support. None however claim to be HDR (High Dynamic range) compliant. Robert Taylor told Inside CI there would be developments on HDR later in the year, probably at the Berlin IFA show. “At the moment there is no standard.” The company showed prototype OLED and LED HDR panels at CES in January.

Taylor confided that LG was planning to drive prices down with the introduction of a 55-inch 4K OLED at IFA which would replace the brand’s current Full HD offering, the EC930V, at the same price point. Also making its debut later in the year will be a flexible screen, able to go flat or curved under remote control.

The introduction of more affordable OLED screens follows a massive $600m investment in LG’s Paju screen plant in Korea. “There was a big issue with OLED yield rates initially,” admits Mackay.  “We’re now in a very different place to two years ago, when the yield rates were really quite low. One of the key things in relation to that is the UK has been defined as a lead market for OLED outside of the domestic Korean market. We were TV advertising OLED last December. That wasn’t accidental. It was about raising awareness before volume product arrives in March.”

On the contentious issue of curved versus flat product, Andy Mackay had this to say: “We don’t feel the battleground is the aesthetic of the screen. For us the battleground is the picture. Which brings us back again to OLED, particularly 4K, which is picture perfect!”

84inch Small

LG OLED and 4K screens are distributed by Invision UK. For more on Invision’s product portfolio and services, visit our partner page here.

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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