Thursday, 29 August 2013 12:37

Samsung’s OLED – olé!

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Olé,  the Spanish word for bravo, aptly describes the launch of Samsung’s first OLED, 55”, curved, smart TV in Australia – one of the world’s first four regions to receive it.

OLED stands for organic light emitting diode and it is the near future of most display devices from smartphones to large screen TVs. It is flexible and bendable so new designs can use that property, namely a curved TV. Each pixel is a diode that can emit its own light, with no back or edge light required. It enables smaller, thinner displays that use less power, provide near infinite contrast, and give off more light wth intense blacks and brighter whites.

It is expensive right now, as manufacturing yields are small, but over the next few years’ OLED will essentially replace Plasma, LCD and LED/LCD as the prime display screen. For those that remember, the first 42” Plasma TVs in the mid 2000s were this price.

Samsung’s KN55S9C is a beautiful TV. Everything from its curvaceous extremities to extraordinary colours, black blacks (a TVphile’s dream), no jagged motion, and - a subjective comment - ‘best picture quality I have seen,” even compared to 4K UHD. It surpasses high-end plasma and LED LCD.

Now down to detail, here's what you get with this TV:

  • 1920 x 1080, RGB – red, green blue LED (note that LG uses a WRGB – adds a white pixel)
  • Quad core processor (upgradeable smart evolution module)
  • Smart interaction camera
  • One connect interface box – only one cable to the screen – supporting 4 HDMI, 2 USB 2.0, 1 LAN, 2 Component, 1 composite connector and RF aerial
  • Wi-Fi, Wi-Di, Bluetooth,
  • Full Dolby digital, DTS, 3D sound with 2 x 10W speakers and a 20W sub-woofer
  • Size with stand 55.8” x 30.6” x 14.2” (actual panel is a lot thinner but the depth is needed for the curve
  • Energy star rating (US) 6 (typical power consumption 135w)
  • Smart Hub includes web browser, live and paid TV and movie content, games and music
  • Samsung apps including S Recommendation, WatchOn, Motion control, voice control
  • AllShare (Airplay and DLNA sharing of images from other devices), Smart View (Mirroring/Clone View/Dual View) and MHL (mobile mini HDMI style interface). 

The TV supports 2D, 3D and a new multi-view, where by using special glasses (two provided) two people can watch and listen to different programs at the same time on the same screen. That's cool!

Opinion 

Do you rush in and buy an OLED for $10K or wait until the price comes down? Simple – if you have the money do it sooner, as I predict that the price will not decrease markedly for a couple of years. Why? – because Samsung controls at least 40% of the Australian TV market and LG, Sony, and Panasonic are unlikely to upset the balance by price-cutting. Until OLED yield issues are solved, it is unlikely that any second or third tier clone TV makers will get panels – then its game over. 

I am not sure why the first OLED TVs are curved. It does not affect the picture quality but I am not sure it is the ideal format. From a few minutes of live viewing, I felt that the corner areas of the screen were more prominent, although slightly distracting. Rival LG admitted that it curved its OLED TV simply to differentiate it from the rest. Whatever the reason, the sales people will all say that it is more ‘immersive.’ Recommended ‘sit back’ is between 1.8 (for two viewers) and 3 metres (four viewers). Wall mounting will not be a real option. 

OLED like Plasma may be subject to burn-in. Reports of an OLED TV on display at Harrods in London indicated that after two months of a continuous image, the screen was irreparably burnt-in. Well that is a little extreme and unlikely to happen in real use – obviously not intended for static signage.

Another OLED issue is that they have not been around long enough to measure a real lifespan. For such a cost, I feel it is improper to offer a 12-month warranty and, in any case, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) would have something to say if the screen did not give at least an effective 5-year life. Perhaps in this case it may be worth paying for an otherwise useless warranty extension.

In all, the OLED launch completely overshadowed the new Samsung 55, 65 and 80” UHD TVs at the Opera House. Read Alex Zaharov-Reutt’s blog from this morning's launch.

Related: Review: Samsung Q9 2018 QLED TV – Best LCD Smart TV ever?


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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