Samsung's $15,000 curved OLED TV lands stateside

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If you’ve got $15,000 to burn but aren’t tickled by extra-large 4K televisions, perhaps Samsung’s curved OLED TV will do the trick.

Value Electronics , a high-end television retailer based in Scarsdale, N.Y., says it is now taking orders for Samsung’s 55-inch curved OLED television. According to CNet, two units are expected to arrive this week. The $15,000 price tag includes calibration and delivery.

Samsung appears to be the first company to launch a curved OLED television in the United States. In Korea, LG began taking pre-orders for its own curved OLED TV in May. Samsung started shipping its television in Korea last month. Both televisions were priced around $13,000 in Korea.

What’s so great about a curved display? Apparently, the concave angle allows every part of the image to be equidistant from your eyes, so the picture looks clearer and less distorted around your peripheral vision. The technology did seem impressive when it was on display at CES in January.

But curved displays also have a big drawback in terms of convenience: As Value Electronics’ website notes, the picture is best viewed from between six feet and 10 feet away, with no more than two viewers at close range and no more than four viewers at long range. In other words, it’s not the kind of TV you’d want for a big Super Bowl party.

Still, it’s encouraging to see any kind of large OLED panel—curved or otherwise—hit the market. The display technology, known for its deep blacks and vibrant colors, has been the TV industry’s great white whale for years due to the difficulty of mass producing large panels. The curved models from Samsung and LG will represent some of the first large OLED TVs available in the United States, although OLED is already common on smartphones.

What's the next big thing?

Between OLED and 4K Ultra HD, TV makers are desperate to find the next big thing in display technology now that 3D TV has turned out to be a flop. Both technologies provide clear benefits that could help them go mainstream: OLED’s picture quality is noticeably better, while 4K screen resolution enables much larger televisions without sacrificing picture quality.

Still, OLED and 4K have a long way to go before they’re ready for the mainstream. Prices are astronomical compared to conventional LED or LCD displays with 1080p resolution, and 4K has the additional challenge of needing new higher-resolution content to take full advantage of the technology.

Since most of us don’t have $15,000 to spare, the arrival of a curved OLED television is just an interesting milestone, worth observing from afar.

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