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Written by Kevin Miller   
Friday, 18 January 2013

oled-vs-4k-tv-625x300-c-625x1000.pngThe 2013 CES show in Las Vegas in the flat panel HDTV category was dominated by 4K displays starting at 50-inches and going all the way up to 110 inch screen sizes. There was also a smattering of OLED (more accurately AMOLED) from a couple of manufacturers. OLED sets were shown by Panasonic, Samsung, and LG. How much of both of these display technologies was vaporware, and how much of it will actually come to market is anyone’s guess. My guess is some of the 4K panels will hit the market by year’s end albeit at stratospheric prices, and the 110-inch panels will probably not make it to market in 2013. Let’s take a look at what some of the majors had on display.

Panasonic: Panasonic showed one OLED model, which was billed as the "Largest 4K OLED in the World" (see photo below). Other than this OLED panel, they did not have any 4K displays, which isn’t surprising considering how late they are coming to the LED party since LED LCD is really the only display technology currently producing 4K resolution panels with the one exception of Panasonic’s professional 152”plasma model.


Figure Panasonic's 4K OLED

Panasonic introduced a total of sixteen new LED Edge lit LCD panels, and sixteen new plasma panels. Their new flagship ZT series plasmas looked like they will have slightly better black levels than last year’s awesome VT50 series yet again increasing the all-important contrast ratio from previous models. The ZT series will come in only 60 and 65-inch screen sizes. Let’s hope they didn’t go backwards on any of the other critical performance parameters like color accuracy (see photo below). Panasonic also showed a VT60 series below the ZT series, which replaces the current flagship VT50 series from 2012, which come in 55, 60, and 65-inch screen sizes. Below that are the ST60 and S60 series respectively, which if similar to last year’s ST50 series will prove to be the bargain of the year in plasma performance to price ratio.

Figure  Panasonic's ZT series plasma



Samsung: Samsung had by far the most impressive line of 4K panels starting at 85 inches. They also showed a 95-inch and a 110-inch 4K panel (see photo below). Samsung claims all of their 4K panels are full array LED backlit rather than edge lit. If this is true, it is the first full array LED based LCD panels they have produced in several years. Pricing was not available on any of the 4K panels. The company claims the 85-inch will be on the market by March of 2013, but could not offer a launch date on the 95 and 110 inch models. The 55-inch OLED panel that was shown at last year’s CES show was conspicuously absent from the show floor. They did have a curved OLED screen on display, but my guess is that is vaporware as well.


Figure  Samsung's 110-inch 4K LED LCD panel

What was really exciting was their new flagship line of plasmas dubbed the 8500 series. Mike Wood from Samsung made it clear that the company is still behind plasma, and had spent significant resources developing their new line. Indeed, black levels and light output on these panels looked far superior to last year’s models. The company claims to have increased the light output by 2.5 times making it close to as bright as some of their LED panels at a maximum brightness of 400 cdm2 or over 100 fTL! The panels will come in 51, 60, and 64 inch screen sizes. It will be very interesting to compare these with Panasonic’s new ZT series panels at this year’s annual flat panel shootout.

LG: LG showed the same 84-inch edge lit LED panel that they debuted at the 2012 CES, but did reduce the list price from 22K to 20K. They showed a total of three OLED panels (see the photo below). All three were 55-inch screen sizes. One model is a curved unit that they gave no specifics about whatsoever (Price, Availability, etc.), so I have to question whether it will ever make it to market. Frankly, for TV viewing a curved screen in a flat panel makes little sense as the viewers on the sides of the image will experience geometric distortion in the image. For computing, which is a one person activity, a curved screen would make more sense. I’ll take a 55-inch computer screen!

The two flat 55-inch models represent generation 1 from last year and generation 2, a new panel. According to the company, the gen 1 panel will be for sale sometime in March. Considering the company’s dismal offerings in the plasma arena the last two years, it came as no surprise to me that they have abandoned plasma all together.



Figure  LG's 3 OLED panels

Sharp: Finally, if you really want to dream, Sharp showed an 85-inch 8K resolution LED panel with an 8K video broadcast from the Japanese broadcasting company NHK (see photo below). I have to say with depth like that who needs 3D!



sharp8k.pngFigure  Sharp's 85-inch 8K panel

That is all there was of interest to this videophile at this year’s CES show. Watch for reviews of the Panasonic ZT series plasmas, and the new 8500 series plasmas from Samsung sometime in the late spring or early summer.


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Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved.

Last Updated ( Friday, 18 January 2013 )
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