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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 23, 2013

Korean Giants Roll Out Curved TV Sets-for $15K a Pop

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Korean consumer electronics leaders LG and Samsung (News - Alert) are one-upping each other yet once again, but this time over a new TV form factor: curved OLED TV sets. Both will have them on the market by the end of the month, but don’t expect these 55-inchers to fly off the shelves: Pretty hefty price points will keep them out of the general population for now.

LG's 55EA9800 model, which comes with a THX certification and 3D, is just 0.17 inches thin and weighs 37.5 pounds. It’s available in some Best Buy (News - Alert) Magnolia stores, including in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and San Antonio, for $14,999.

LG’s Curved OLED TV

Samsung's curved KN55S9TV will be sold at Value Electronics starting next week, for $15,000, according to reports. It has near-identical specs to LG’s entry, but comes in at 60 pounds.

The $15K price tag (News - Alert) may seem steep, but high-end TVs will lead the growth in the market going forward, analysts say—and prices will come down. Consider 4K Ultra-HD TV sets, which at CES (News - Alert) in January were going for about $20,000 price range. Now, just months later, prices have dropped significantly: Sony’s 55-inch and 65-inch sets sell for $5,000 and $7,000, respectively.

NPD DisplaySearch is forecasting a return to growth for the TV market after its first-ever double-digit decline (18 percent) in 2012, on the back of escalating demand for big-screen TVs. The industry will see a 23 percent CAGR from 2013 through 2017

NPD found that shipments of 60" and above displays grew by 89 percent year-over-year in 2012, and these are expected to grow by another 35 percent in 2013. Strong growth is expected to continue during the forecast period, and 60" and above public displays are expected to pass one million units by 2017. After 2015, NPD DisplaySearch forecasts the 50" size may be the only plasma display panel available in the marketplace. Demand for larger size displays is expected to continue, providing an increased opportunity for LCD manufacturers.

“The good news is that the end user will be able to purchase larger displays at lower prices. The bad news could be that they will no longer see some of the traditional sizes offered in the marketplace over the next few years,” added Fender.

Futuresource Consulting, meanwhile, predicts that 4K sets will grow from shipping just 62,000 units last year to 780,000 in 2013, and 22 million units in 2017. The arrival of native 4K content and increased consumer awareness will help boost sales from 2015 onward, the firm noted.

“LCD TV panel manufacturers and premium TV brands have been looking for the next hot trigger to accelerate flat panel replacement. 3D in the home was an attempt to achieve this and it has yet to become the solid success that many had hoped for,” said Simon Bryant, head of consumer electronics at Futuresource Consulting.

“4K represents a more natural progression for the industry, but one that brings its own challenges, not least the intricacies of producing 4K panels at high yield rates and the complexities of delivering the bandwidth-hungry content,” he said. “Substantial compression improvements provided by the HEVC codec will smooth the way for broadcast, and although the real-time encoding required for live transmission is still embryonic, solutions are being trialed and evaluated.”

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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