$8,000 Ultra HD vs. $15,000 OLED: Most Expensive TVs Face-Off
Sharp's 70-inch Ultra HD TV has four times the resolution of HD and sells for a cool $8,000.
Let's preface this by saying that the first of anything in consumer tech is always expensive. Less than a decade ago, a 42-inch Sony LCD TV sold for about $10,000. Now, Sony is selling a 40-inch set on sale for $450 (and Sony is far from the cheapest vendor).
Given that, LG's U.S. launch of a 55-inch, curve-screen OLED TV for $14,999 (available at Best Buy) is a little less mind-blowing. And, unlike all the early LCD TVs, the model 55EA9800 from LG is likely to have very good picture. It's the first OLED TV to get certified for image quality by THX.
Not all seals of approval are equal, but THX certainly is rigorous. It involves 600 quality tests and generally requires the TV manufacturers to go back and forth making a slew of improvements before THX is satisfied.
Sharp just went through the same process with its 69.5-inch AQUOS Ultra HD LED TV, with four times the resolution of standard 1080p HDTVs on the market. As the first certified Ultra HD (also called UHD or 4K) TV, the Sharp should be on equal footing for image quality.
And though its screen is bigger, the smaller pixels mean you can sit closer to it than to the 55-inch LG OLED without seeing the unattractive grid. Of course, if you are able to afford an $8,000 TV, you probably aren't living in a cramped apartment — unless, perhaps, you're in Tokyo.
Clearly the Sharp offers a lot more screen for the buck, being both a bigger and cheaper set. But it's not necessarily going to deliver the best picture, because there is virtually no UHD/4K content to watch on it. Instead, it has to "upconvert" regular HD content, using its dual processors to extrapolate details between the existing pixels to fill in the additional pixels. [See also: 4K TVs Highlight Fuzzy Video]
In the case of the LG set, its lower resolution will likely mean better picture quality, since there is no funny business in how the video is processed. And OLEDs are celebrated for their great color palette and ability to display very dark shades, including virtually total black — enhancing contrast to make everything look richer.
So if you have the cash, or decide a top-notch TV is worth forgoing that new economy car you were looking at, LG's OLED TV is probably your best bet.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, you can get a good, big TV for a lot less. Forgo OLED technology, and you can get LG's 55-inch LED-LCD TV (model 55LN5700) for $1,150 at Best Buy. And Sharp sells a 70-inch LED-LCD set (the LC-70LE550U) starting at $2,300.