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

    • 10 Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco

      In fact, high marks from readers on the quality of Costco's store brands helped the bulk retailer place sixth in Consumer Reports' supermarkets ratings, behind Market Basket, Fareway, Trader Joe's, Publix and, the No. 1 chain, Wegmans. Costco has turned on its head the notion that a store brand is a notch below a national brand by using its coast-to-coast strength to strong-arm suppliers to put quality as well as value into its Kirkland Signature offerings.

      Kiplinger
    • 'I literally wanted to die': Woman claims she was bitten by hundreds of bed bugs at Atlantis resort

      A Florida woman filed a lawsuit against the Atlantis Paradise Resort in the Bahamas alleging that she woke up covered with crawling bed bugs. The Miami Herald reported Thursday that Cindi Avila was staying in a room at the Royal Towers during a January 2016 vacation at the resort. At the last night of her stay she said she woke up to “hundreds of painful, swollen bites from her forehead to her thighs.” “It was like something out of a horror movie,” she told the Herald. “I pulled up the mattress and I was shocked at what I saw.” Avila said she took pictures and video of the bites and the dozens of tiny insects crawling on the bed skirt. The paper reported that tiny black excrement can also be

      Fox News q
    • Ronda Rousey's 'ego' one of the reasons for 48-second TKO, says Amanda Nunes

      Amanda Nunes believes Ronda Rousey's "ego" had a major part to play during her 48-second knockout when the duo faced off for the bantamweight title at UFC 207 in Las Vegas on 30 December. Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) longest reigning bantamweight women's champion was making a comeback after over a year on the sidelines following her first career loss against Holly Holm, but her return lasted less than a minute as Nunes punched her out of contention. Rousey, a Judo bronze medal winner at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, is not known for her striking abilities, but still chose to stand toe-to-toe with the Brazilian, who is known for her striking abilities.

      International Business Times UK q
    • Paris Jackson Goes Braless For Modeling Debut In France

      Paris Jackson has officially step into the spotlight as she made her high-fashion modeling debut in Paris, France.

      International Business Times
    • ‘Not My President!’ Protesters Storm the Mall as Donald Trump Takes the Oath of Office

      At the moment Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on the Capitol steps on Friday, protesters along on the National Mall let loose with boos, others screamed, “Not my president!”

      People
    • Did Bella Thorne Just Break The Law By Sharing These Nude Photos?

      On Tuesday, Bella Thorne retweeted a collection of nude photos, posted by anonymous Twitter user @comproimse, that were allegedly of her ex, Gregg Sulkin. There were three pictures: one of half of Sulkin's face, one of a person's chest, and one of a person's penis. Provided the photos are of who the poster says they are, and since they weren't posted by Sulkin himself, it's likely they were posted without his consent. By retweeting the photos, Thorne distributed them to her 6.55 million followers. A lot of the specifics are up in the air, but this news raises an interesting question. Let's say, for a moment, these pictures are of Sulkin and they were posted without his consent. Did Thorne commit

      refinery29.com q
    • For 40 Years, this Christian Family Was Found in The Siberia Wilderness, with a 400 year old Bible, Unaware of World Events

      This post is hosted on the Huffington Post's Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and post freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email. It was 1978, a helicopter of geologists surveying the wilderness discovered a family of six. Lost deep in the Russian Siberian wilderness, a family was found practicing the Christian religion utilizing a bible untainted from any modern version of the Christian bible. The discovery of this family not only proves the strength of the human spirit, but it underlines the strength of faith. What I find interesting is the similarity in the practices of this family in the wilderness and the early Oneness Pentecostal

      The Huffington Post q
    • Ivanka Trump Wears Glam Green Outfit by Oscar de la Renta for Moving Day to Washington, D.C.

      Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner spotted outside of their New York City apartment ahead of the inauguration. Ivanka Trump has officially gone green. Fashion wise, the first-daughter-to-be stepped out in a gorgeous green ensemble that Yahoo Style has confirmed was designed by Oscar de la Renta.

      Yahoo Style
    • 'Morbidly obese' woman drops 126 pounds and becomes fitness model

      A woman from Aarhus, Denmark, who was once classified as “morbidly obese” after tipping the scales at 268 pounds, now works as a physical trainer and sportswear model after dropping more than half of the weight in a period of four years. Mathilde Broberg, 22, lost the excess pounds partially by cutting out junk food, exercising avidly and following the “teaspoon diet,” where she measured out her food and ate with a teaspoon to ensure that the portion sizes weren’t larger than the size of a flat-out hand.

      Yahoo Canada Style
    • Cuba Gooding Jr. Files for Divorce From Wife Sara Kapfer After 22 Years of Marriage: Report

      Cuba Gooding Jr. has responded to his wife Sara Kapfer’s separation filing two years later — details

      Us Weekly
    • We tried grilled chicken sandwiches from all the major fast-food chains — and the winner is obvious

      Grilled chicken: the timid, humdrum sibling of fried chicken. While nowhere near as glamorous or greasy as its crispy companion, grilled chicken is starting to increase in popularity as it rides the wave of health conscious dining. Most major fast-food chains now offer grilled chicken options, from sandwiches to nuggets.  But seared chicken isn't masked by a delicious fried coating, so it has to be good in order to pass muster.  We tried grilled chicken sandwiches from major fast-food chains — Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, and Chick-fil-A — to find out which makes the best.

      Business Insider q
    • Suspect in officer's slaying spews expletives at judge

      ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Hours after a fugitive in the slaying of a police officer told a judge he was brutalized during his arrest, Orlando's police chief released a video of his surrender and described the suspect as "extremely violent, dangerous and very unpredictable."

      Associated Press
    • Victim Claimes He Asked Target Security for Help Before Brutal Parking Lot Attack

      Security at a Target in Texas is being called into question after a man suffered a fractured skull when he was attacked in the store`s parking lot.

      Tribune
    • First Tango in Paris: Michael Jackson's Daughter Makes Her Professional Modeling Debut

      She stayed true to her name as she shared her latest snaps in Paris.

      Inside Edition
    • With Donald Trump as President, Here's What Will Happen to the U.S. Economy

      Donald Trump has had a lot of success in business, but how will he be for the economy as president? Here's how his economic policies will play out.

      The Street q
    • The Fried Chicken Everyone Is Talking About In Your State (52 photos)

      With help from our friends at Foursquare , we found the best-rated fried chicken spots across America. Did we get your state right? From Delish

      Delish
    • The Obamas Welcome Donald and Melania Trump to the White House Just Before Inauguration

      In a longstanding inaugural tradition, the Obamas welcomed the Trumps to the White House for tea or coffee on Friday morning, just hours before President-elect Donald Trump is due to be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America. President Barack Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, met the president-elect and his wife, incoming first lady Melania Trump, on the steps leading to the front door of the White House. The two couples exchanged pleasantries and the president greeted Trump by saying, “How are you?

      People
    • ESPN drops commentator over Venus Williams 'gorilla' remark

      US broadcaster ESPN has dropped commentator Doug Adler after he compared Venus Williams to a "gorilla" at the Australian Open -- although he insisted the word he used was "guerrilla". ESPN said Adler should have been more careful during his coverage of the seven-time Grand Slam-winner's win over Stefanie Voegele. "During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, Doug Adler should have been more careful in his word selection," an ESPN statement said.

      AFP
    • Entertainment Tonight
    • Mark Zuckerberg is suing hundreds of Hawaiians to protect his 700-acre Kauai estate

      Mark Zuckerberg paid close to $100 million for 700 acres of beachfront property on the island of...

      Business Insider