Every year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas unveils the future's groundbreaking new gadgets. And every year, at least one buzzy piece of technology ends up stealing the show. The early frontrunner ahead of this year's event, which will be held next week, is a super-thin, 55-inch OLED flatscreen TV, the first of its kind to be offered to U.S. consumers. Some are saying it will be the "best TV ever." Here, four talking points:
1. It's probably thinner than your phone
While smaller OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) TV sets have been available in the past, none of them came close to the display size of LG's 55-incher. The South Korean electronics company says this TV set is only 4 millimeters thick — "impossibly thin," says Charlie White at Mashable. In contrast, the latest iPhone is over twice as thick, at 9.3 millimeters. The TV reportedly weighs in at a feathery 16.5 pounds.
2. And boasts unrivaled display power
The "key advantage" of OLED technology, says The Wall Street Journal, is that the panels emit light. That eliminates the need for a backlight, allowing the display to be kept super-thin. OLED screens are already outfitted on smartphones everywhere, using pixels capable of emitting red, green, blue, and white to produce accurate tones onscreen. "Traditionally, OLED offers higher contrast than both LCD and plasma," says Ty Pendlebury at CNET, and LG says this new technology is easier and more economic to produce as well.
3. But it will cost a lot… at least first
One analyst quoted by The Wall Street Journal estimates that the price for the 55-inch model will start at around $8,000 when it (supposedly) launches in the third quarter of 2012. In 2013, that should fall below $4,000 "as sales volumes increase and companies find ways to manufacture the sets less expensively."
4. The future looks bright
What makes the technology so "promising" is that giant OLED screens "can be printed onto razor-thin surfaces using a process akin to an inkjet printer," says Mashable's White, "theoretically making them even cheaper to produce than today's LCD and plasma screens" — at least at some point down the line. "No question about it," White says: "You're looking at the TV of the future."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 4 simple steaks you can cook in a pan
- 7 tips for keeping your man (from the 1950s)
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Save the world... by changing how you pee
- Why does Fareed Zakaria still have a job?
- Does solar energy have a battery problem?
Subscribe to the Week