Forget 4K Ultra HD TVs: I want an OLED TV

Consumer Reports
LG OLED TV at CES 2013

Last week's Consumer Electronics Show was a great opportunity to check out the two newest TV technologies, Ultra HD and OLED—sometimes in side-by-side comparisons.

During a live webcast in which I was interviewed along with USA Today's Mike Snider, we were asked which of these new kinds of TVs we'd personally buy, if money weren't an issue.

I didn't have to think very long before replying, "OLED."


MORE AT COnsumer Reports

Of course, not everyone will share my view. And once we're able to get a few Ultra HD TVs and OLED sets in our labs for testing, perhaps I'll change my mind. But based on demos at the show from several major TV brands, the OLED TVs I saw represented the most impressive change from what I'm currently getting from my 1080p TVs.

Don't get me wrong—there's a lot to like about Ultra HD TVs. Certainly the high-resolution 4K screens look great and let you get incredibly close to the TV without seeing any visible pixel grid (called the "screen-door effect"). For many of us, this means that you'll be able to get a larger screen while maintaining the same seating distance.

And for now, OLED manufacturers are having a tough time making larger OLED sets; the current size limitation is about 55 or 56 inches. At CES, we saw Ultra HD prototypes as large as 110 inches, and the few already being sold are 84-inchers. During the show, several companies announced models in the 55- to 75-inch range, a more suitable size for most prospective buyers, although I question whether a 55-inch Ultra HD TV can adequately showcase the higher resolution.

(See also: Cheap ways to turn your TV into a 'smart' one)

It's also likely that Ultra HD TV prices will fall faster than those of OLED sets. Ultra HDs are essentially LCD TVs with a higher pixel density, so they can be manufactured on the same production lines as standard LCDs. OLED TVs require a new manufacturing process, and yields so far haven't been great, which will likely keep prices high for a longer period of time.

But that's also Ultra HD TV's weakness: These 4K sets essentially remain LCD TVs, with many of that format's drawbacks—most notably backlight-uniformity issues, limited viewing angles, and often, mediocre contrast levels. Yes, the images look sharper, but most viewers will notice it only with top-quality source material, and 4K Blu-rays are at least a year away.

OLED, however, is a new type of TV, and it's the perfect vehicle for demonstrating that image detail is only one of a handful of attributes that contribute to great-looking picture. OLED TVs feel to me like an entirely new TV-viewing experience. Blacks levels are so deep that you to need see them to believe them.

In the first OLED demo I ever saw a few years ago—in room that could go almost absolutely dark—the TV seemed to disappear when the lights turned off; the images seemed to float in space. (When we tested the first production OLED TV, Sony's $2,500 11-inch XEL-1, we had to buy new test equipment to measure its black levels.)

OLEDs also deliver ultra-high-contrast images, with bold, vibrant colors that jump off the screen. Add with better-than-plasma brightness, unlimited viewing angles, and energy efficiency that trumps even LED-based LCD TVs, OLED delivers a dynamic viewing experience I just didn't get with the Ultra HD sets I saw.

Of course, the next iteration of OLED TVs will be sets that also have 4K Ultra HD resolutions. There were several 4K OLEDs on display at CES, and of course, they looked great. But even when I was watching clips on the 1080p OLED sets, never once did I think, "Boy, if this set only had four times more pixels..." When TV is doing everything else right, you get the impression of a sharper, more dynamic image, even when the resolution hasn't been increased.

As always, I'm looking forward to getting some of these new TVs into our labs this year for thorough testing, and I'm curious to see if our head TV engineer, Claudio Ciacci, will share my initial opinion. Either way, both Ultra HD and OLED are exciting developments for those of us who spend a lot of time looking at TVs.

But with prices expected to be north of $10,000 for TVs using either of these technologies, we'll be a little more excited by yet another development: making them affordable for the average consumer.


Copyright © 2006-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • ‘Game of Thrones’ Actor Neil Fingleton Dies at 36

      Neil Fingleton, who played the colossal warrior Mag the Mighty on “Game of Thrones,” died from heart failure on Saturday. He was 36. Fingleton was the U.K.’s tallest man at seven feet, seven inches in height. In addition to “Thrones,” Fingleton appeared in “Doctor Who,” Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and “X-Men: First Class.” His death was announced... Read more »

      Variety
    • Oscars 2017: Jimmy Kimmel sets personal record with Trump tweet

      Jimmy Kimmel just set a personal record!

      Entertainment Weekly
    • Japan emperor's Vietnam visit a sign of improved ties

      HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — When Nguyen Thi Xuan said goodbye to her Japanese husband in 1954, she thought he was going off for a year or two on another long assignment. She never imagined it would be more than half a century before she'd see him again.

      Associated Press
    • AT&T is making its unlimited plan way more competitive

      AT&T is rolling out a new unlimited plan this week that addresses some of its competitive deficiencies against Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. A few weeks ago, AT&T joined the unlimited data party with a plan that, to be honest, wasn’t very good. It didn’t include any sort of tethering option and additional lines were pretty pricey.

      The Verge q
    • Mama June Accused by Fans of Wearing a Fat Suit to Exaggerate Weight Loss on Reality Show

      The 37-year-old reality star's new show, 'Mama June: From Not to Hot,' premiered on Friday night.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Oscars 2017: Halle Berry Says Her Sexy Skin-Tight Oscars Gown Makes Her Feel ‘Romantic’

      Halle Berry is no stranger to making a statement on the Oscars red carpet. “I have learned to deal with three failed marriages, which has not been easy, especially when there’s children involved,” she admitted.

      People
    • Steph Curry leaves timeout huddle to help fan win $5,000

      During a timeout in Saturday’s Nets-Warriors game, Golden State had a little game show for a couple fans. Steph Curry was also sneaking by while this was happening, and when she rolled the third ball onto the ramp, he intercepted the ball and threw it into the $2,500 bucket. Curry ran back to the Warriors bench as if nothing happened, and when the announcer said they’re giving Carly the money, he raised his arms in excitement.

      SB Nation q
    • Kim suffered painful death within 20 minutes of attack: minister

      Kim Jong-Nam was dead within 20 minutes of being attacked and would have suffered a painful death as his major organs shut down, according to Malaysia's health minister.

      AFP Videos
    • These fisherman caught a manta ray on camera that’s so big, it’s making us wonder if the Loch Ness Monster might be real

      If you’re not familiar with manta rays, they’re super cool sea creatures who look like a cross between a shark and an…

      Hello Giggles
    • Gabrielle Union's Slinky Dress Plus More Supersexy Looks From the Vanity Fair Oscars Party (11 photos)

      After  the Oscars wrap up, the hordes head to the Governor’s Ball . But for most, the ultimate destination is the ultra-exclusive Vanity Fair Oscars party, with wall-to-wall A-listers. Gabrielle Union turned heads in a revealing royal blue and black creation by designer  Jean Paul Gaultier that she confidently rocked on the red carpet. From Katy Perry to Sofia Vergara, see take a peek at the most stunning looks from the Vanity Fair Oscars party. Read more: The Best Oscars Dresses That You’ve Probably Never Seen Oscars 2017: Best and Worst Dressed A Look Back at Outrageous Oscars Style — and Why It Would Never Happen Today Let’s keep in touch! Follow Yahoo Style + Beauty on   Facebook ,  Twitter ,  Instagram , and  Pinterest .

      Yahoo Style
    • ‘Game Of Thrones’ Actor Neil Fingleton Dies: UK’s Tallest Man Was 36

      English actor and basketball player Neil Fingleton has died. Named Britain's tallest man in 2007, Fingleton turned professional actor with roles in 2011’s X-Men: First Class and in 2013's 47 Ronin . In what is his best-known turn, he played Mag the Mighty in HBO’s Game Of Thrones . A rep for the actor could not confirm how Fingleton died, although multiple reports say he suffered heart failure on Saturday. He was 36. A statement posted to the Tall Persons Club group…

      Deadline
    • Hmm, maybe this is why Trump doesn't want to attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner

      On Saturday, Donald Trump made history as only the third president to bow out of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. And while this has much to do with Trump's ever-worsening battle with the press and his constant struggle to book talent, it's also worth remembering that, to be frank, Trump probably has another reason for ditching: He usually gets clobbered at these things. So, in the interest of, uh, elucidation, please enjoy these videos of Trump getting roasted at the 2011 and 2016 White House Correspondents' Dinner. Better yet, enjoy Trump's mirthless reactions. They're uncomfortable to watch, but extremely worth it. SEE ALSO: An exclusive look at Donald Trump's Twitter drafts for Oscar night First, here's President Obama clapping back at Trump's relentless "birther" conspiracy-mongering. The Lion King is involved. Next, observe Seth Meyers insisting that Trump must be running for president as a "joke." Trump does not smile. And here's Obama ripping on The Apprentice.  Finally, here's a delightful compilation of all the best Trump burns from the 2016 dinner.  A Larry Wilmore highlight: "Yeah, Trump's campaign is inspiring ... mass violence." (Trump did not attend that one, BTW.) So, there you have it. While we're not sure about the future of this year's event, we'll always have those stunners to fall back on.  And you can always zoom in on this cursed image while listening to "Sound of Silence." Image: Youtube/C-Span BONUS: Jordan Peele reacts to 'Get Out' as Barack Obama: 'Surrounded by white people! Not fun'

      Mashable
    • Robert De Niro snaps at wife for 'spending all my money'

      Trouble is brewing over Grace Hightower’s coffee company. We’re told that her husband, Robert De Niro — who is a major investor in the firm — is steamed because the 5-year-old Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda brand is turning into a money pit. The New York Post reports that Hightower has frustrated business associates — as well as the legendary actor — by dithering over simple decisions, and “changing her mind about how to run the business depending on who she spoke to last.” A source tells the paper that, in a moment of frustration, De Niro boiled over while bickering with Hightower in public at a Manhattan bar, telling her, “I wouldn’t have to keep making s - - tty movies if you didn’t spend

      Fox News q
    • Matt Damon Fears Oscars Host — and Faux-Nemesis — Jimmy Kimmel: ‘It’s Going to Be Ugly’

      Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel are perhaps the most iconic frenemies in Hollywood history, and now their hilariously bitter rivalry will play out live at the 2017 Academy Awards! The late night star will clearly have the upper hand, given his capacity as the Oscars emcee. On the red carpet immediately prior to the broadcast, Damon admitted that he’s bracing himself for a rough evening at the hands of his (faux) nemesis.

      People
    • Why Lane Kiffin Is an Idiot For Leaving Alabama and Going to FAU

      Lane Kiffin will be the next head coach at Florida Atlantic University. Here's why it was a dumb move for him to leave his job at Alabama for FAU.

      The Cheat Sheet q
    • Suspect in Mardi Gras parade crash expected to face at least 19 more charges

      The suspect was found to have had a blood-alcohol level of .232.

      ABC News q
    • Magician Daryl Easton, 61, Found Dead After Killing Himself in Hollywood’s Famed Magic Castle

      Magician Daryl Easton was found dead inside Hollywood’s famed Magic Castle on Friday, according to multiple reports. Police have ruled his death a suicide, the New York Daily News reported, after the Los Angeles Fire Department had responded to calls from the popular venue at 7:25 p.m. local time. The Magic Castle, which opened its doors in 1963, confirmed Easton’s death early Saturday in a statement on their Facebook page.

      People
    • Best dog ever waits for this girl every day after school, and OMG can we pet him, too?

      Dogs are just the best things ever. Sure, cats are nice and everything, but sometimes cats are mean. Dogs are never mean….

      Hello Giggles
    • Jerk alligator steals a huge fish off a little boy's line

      Today, a little boy named Connor learned the brutal lesson that Mother Nature has no manners. In a clip posted to the Bass Masters And Fish Experts Facebook Page, a thieving alligator had an easy lunch thanks to some humans fishing off a pier. In the clip, a young boy hooks a pretty sizable fish, and as one man encourages the boy to reel in the fish all on his own, another spots an alligator lurking near the pier. The man tries to distract the gator by hitting the side of the pier with his arm, but the reptile was determined to get its eats. "You need to cut your line," one the of the men tells the little boy as the gator swims away with his catch.  Although it's unclear where the incident occurred, many commenters insisted it happened in Florida.  [h/t: UPI ] BONUS: Giant nets harvest fog to solve water crisis in Morocco

      Mashable
    • Academy Award Winners 2017: Updated List

      The 89th Academy Awards are taking place on Sunday, honoring the best in film from the past year. All eyes will be on “La La Land,” which tied the all-time record with 14 nominations. It’s widely seen as the frontrunner for best picture, and is in the running for top awards like best actor, actress,... Read more »

      Variety