It seems like years since we were first promised large-sized OLED TVs for our home — mostly because. Delays have seen on-sale dates and products slowly slip into the rear-view mirror.
But now there are two OLED TVs for Australians to choose from: the Samsung KN55S9C and the LG 55EA9800. Both are 55 inches and both are sporting a curved panel.
While we're yet to see the Samsung TV in the testing labs, we've been putting LG's offering through its paces, and it's safe to say that we're impressed with nearly everything — except, perhaps, for the price tag.
Unlike most modern TVs, the 55EA9800 comes out of the box as a single unit. There's no fiddly stand to get set up and screwed on. At just 17kg, it's fairly easy to get the TV out and on to an entertainment unit.
The box design helps — it's one of the most convenient packing solutions we've seen, with just three pieces of styrofoam to hold the TV in place and a single box containing all the assorted remotes, manuals, glasses and other accoutrements. Packing up the TV for its return was a one-person job that took no more than five minutes.
The clear base has two speakers built in — helpfully they're actually labelled "Clear Speaker" just in case you were a bit confused on the matter. In all, there are apparently five speakers in the 55EA9800, producing 40W of sound.
The back panel is made of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic, which LG says helps to add rigidity and support for the screen. We're willing to take their word for that, but we will say that the carbon fibre is a rather pleasing design touch in terms of looks.
At its thinnest, the TV is just 4.3mm thick, although it gets a fair bit thicker towards the start of the clear base, simply so there's somewhere to put all the electronics.
And, of course, there's the curve. It's far more subtle than you might expect, especially when viewed from the front. Viewed from the side, it's more pronounced but still nowhere close to what you might expect from some images of the 55EA9800.
Ignoring the screen for a bit, the 55EA9800 has all the features of an LG Smart TV,. We still think the interface for the Smart TV functions needs a big update in terms of design, but all the elements are there, including a good range of apps.
The 55EA9600 uses the LG Magic Remote but also has a regular remote for people who don't enjoy the wizardry of the on-screen pointer. The Magic Remote actually seemed more responsive with the 55EA9800 than it has felt on other TVs, although that could be just our perception of the experience.
There's also a USB camera that can be attached to the top of the TV and plugged in via a special USB port on the rear, letting you use the video and gesture functions, as well as voice control.
While there are no buttons on the TV, there's a touch panel under the LG logo, where you can access basic functions like channel, volume, input and even on/off.
In all, we saw very few differences from other current generation Smart TV offerings from LG.
A quick note on the sound from the built-in speakers: it's better than you'd expect but still not exactly great. Thin panels don't leave a lot of room for big sounding speakers, so while we applaud what LG have done, we think a TV like this deserves a good surround-sound system to go with it.
Where we saw a massive difference was, of course, in the panel. It's really quite remarkable just how much the colours pop, especially when side by side with a traditional LCD or plasma screen.
As a bit of background, there are actually two different technologies being used in the OLED screens at the moment. LG is using a so-called "four pixel" system, also called "white OLED". Other manufacturers, such as Samsung, use an RGB-pixel system similar to plasma TVs.
Geoffrey Morrison from CNET has an excellent article explaining the difference in great detail, but here's a quick excerpt on how white OLED works:
Red, green and blue OLED materials are sandwiched together. When powered, these create a white light. This white light passes through a colour filter to create the red, green and blue subpixels.