Videophiles who value the anthracite-deep blacks, wide viewing angle, and attractive rendering of OLED displays will have more choices than ever in 2017. Category leader LG will have five series of OLED televisions this year. Sony and Panasonic will also launch large-screen OLED TVs.
Announced at CES, Sony's A1E OLED televisions will arrive in Canada in mid-2017. In addition to the 65" and 77" models announced at CES, there may be another size as well, said Sony of Canada spokesperson Karol Warminiec. What's the price tag? "I know, but I can't say," Warminiec responded. "But you and every other customer will be very pleasantly surprised."
Warminiec confirmed that Sony is using panels supplied by LG, but added, "For us, it's what's driving the panel that's important." A1E OLEDs feature the same X1 Extreme video processor employed in the Sony's top-of-the-line Z9D series, which will remain the company's flagship TVs. They'll support both the Dolby Vision and HDR 10 UHD formats.
A unique feature is Acoustic Surface audio, which uses the screen itself to radiate audio into the room. Four actuators at the rear of the TV vibrate the screen. This allows for a design that is essentially bezel-less. Low frequencies are reinforced by passive radiators in the easel stand that supports the AE1 OLED; the easel also houses the electronics and connectors.
The differences between LG's B, C, E, G and W series of OLED TVs are more related to design than underlying technology. Available in 65" and 77" sizes, LG's top-of-the-line Signature W series TVs are absolute stunners. Electronics and connector are housed in a base that connects to the panel via a ribbon cable. The base also contains a Dolby Atmos soundbar.
The panel itself is a mere 2.57mm deep: that's a tenth of an inch for those who think in Imperial measurements. It has to be wall-mounted, which is done using supplied magnetic brackets. Including the brackets, mounting depth is only 4mm, so that the TV casts no shadow. A W-series OLED TV looks like it's part of the wall, prompting this observation by David VanderWaal, Vice President of Marketing for LG Electronics USA: "We're being asked, ‘Why the W?' Think of it: Wallpaper. Window. Wow."
For 2017, all of LG's OLED televisions deliver 25% higher peak brightness than last year's models. In addition to the HDR 10 and Dolby Vision formats supported by LG's 2016 UHD televisions, this year's models will support Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) and Technicolor Advanced HDR. They'll also feature Technicolor Expert Mode, which LG says allows for advanced calibration and very accurate colour and tonal rendering. And all models have Dolby Atmos audio.
For the first time ever, Panasonic did not show consumer TVs at its CES exhibit; nor did it mention TV at its pre-CES press conference. So, is Pana bailing from the TV business? Definitely not, said Barry Murray, Marketing Director of Panasonic Canada Inc.'s AV Group, when I button-holed him during Canada Night.
In fact, Panasonic had an off-site event where it showed new OLED TVs (with panels supplied by LG) to key dealers; they'll arrive in Canada this year. We'll have details on Panasonic's OLED offerings, as well as expanded coverage of new TV and video products, in our CES print edition.