Samsung ES9500 OLED TV

Time will tell if Samsung's 55-inch ES9500 OLED TV lives up to its picture quality promise, but it is definitely thin.

Ty Pendlebury David Katzmaier

Ty Pendlebury


Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.

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David Katzmaier

Editorial Director -- TVs and streaming

David has reviewed TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home entertainment gear at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

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2 min read

Samsung shows off an ES9500 OLED prototype at an event in May. Samsung

Update December 6, 2012: It looks like this TV won't be coming out this year after all. The next time we expect an official update is CES 2013 in January.

Samsung's ES9500, known as the Super OLED when it was first announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, is a 55-inch OLED TV that promises revolutionary picture quality coupled with a slim design. It and LG's 55EM9600 are the first big-screen OLED-based televisions to enter mass production.

Samsung has yet to officially announce U.S. pricing, but the Associated Press reported that the Korean price will be 10 million won ($8,760). The company also has not stated a definitive launch date, only to expect a launch sometime in second half of 2012.

Samsung told CNET that the ES9500 TV has a 0.3-inch depth, which is about a third as thin as the skinniest LED TVs, but still nearly doubles that of the LG's 0.157-inch (4mm) depth.

Samsung's TV uses a series of native red, green, and blue subpixel OLEDs to create a picture, while LG uses white OLEDs (so-called WOLED) overlaid by red, green, and blue filters in addition to a fourth, filter-free white OLED subpixel. Both companies claim superiority -- LG says its design cuts costs and produces a brighter picture, for example -- but at this stage we don't know which one will actually perform better.

Samsung's TV uses actual red, green, and blue OLED subpixels (left) while LG's TV uses white OLEDs overlaid by a filter. LG

OLED has the potential to outperform any current flat-panel display technology. The only other OLED TV to see U.S. store shelves was Sony's XEL-1, an 11-inch pipsqueak that nonetheless managed to produce "absolute" black levels when we reviewed it in 2008. At the time David Katzmaier said, "The only display we've seen that comes close is Pioneer's Extreme Contrast Concept plasma," which delivered the deepest black levels we've seen on any TV to this day.

Samsung claims a 20 percent improvement in color reproduction compared with current LED-lit LCD panels, according to Engadget.

The ES9500 will also include Smart Dual View technology, which allows two users to watch two different 2D programs simultaneously while wearing special 3D glasses with headphones (you'll also need two separate sources). The TV also sports Samsung's premium features, including Smart Interaction voice and gesture control and Smart Evolution upgradability.

The Sony XEL-1 suffered from color accuracy issues, but Samsung describes its 55-incher as a "masterpiece of accurate color reproduction and maximized performance," so hey, maybe the company licked it. If we get some face time with one, we'll be sure to see whether it suffers from the off-angle color issues that LG says its 55-inch OLED design addresses.

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