Hands on with 4K OLED-TVs
Hands-on with Sony & Panasonic's 4K OLED-TVs

18 Jan 2013 | Rasmus Larsen |

Panasonic and Sony both unveiled 56” 4K OLED-TVs at CES 2013. The TVs have been developed in collaboration - and FlatpanelsHD saw both of them. We share our hands-on experiences with the extremely impressive displays.

Hands-on with Panasonic's 4K OLED TV

We have OLED-TVs and we have 4K TVs but Panasonic and Sony have combined the two in one package; a 4K OLED-TV. It is a prototype right now but Panasonic’s version still looked fairly complete.

Panasonics 4K OLED-TV
Panasonic exhibited this 4K OLED-TV at CES

The 56-inch TV is large enough to fit a large-size living room but not quite large enough to compete with some of the 4K LCD-TVs that were unveiled at CES. Panasonic had placed the TV on a metal stand and it had a metal backside. It is extremely thin.

Panasonics 4K OLED-TV
Panasonic exhibited this 4K OLED-TV at CES

Picture quality was impressive, undoubtedly. The colors were incredibly vibrant and contrast was, based on our observations, near-perfect. Black areas in pictures were pitch-black, and the TV was also able to reproduce very bright images, when required to. We did notice some reflections which is also visible in the picture below where you see a green reflection at the right edge. Viewing angles were pretty much perfect.

Panasonics 4K OLED-TV
Panasonic exhibited this 4K OLED-TV at CES

The TV boasts a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels - or 4K – and it certainly produced an incredibly level of details. However, it only exceeded that of a Full HD TV if you moved relatively close to the TV (closer than 2½ meters). A 56 inch TV is not enough to fully justify 4K resolution, at least not for the typical living room where viewers often sit 4-5 meters from the TV screen. There is nothing wrong with 4K, we praise that trend, but we also think that the wow-factor would have been higher if Panasonic and Sony had produced, for example, a 70” 4K OLED-TV.

Hands-on with Sony's 4K OLED TV

Sony's version of the OLED-TV looked more like a prototype design. It was placed in a completely dark section of Sony’s CES booth and the frame was a basic black box.

Sony exhibited this 4K OLED-TV at CES

Sony had found some stunning nature shots but also found high-contrast video that really demonstrated just how deep blacks are on an OLED-TV. Black depth was extremely impressive and it made pictures look vivid and alive. However, some of the very dark scenes also revealed reflection issues.

The TV had the exact same picture characteristics as Panasonic’s TV – which was obviously expected. However, at Sony’s booth we had a better chance to evaluate contrast and black depth, and we can honestly say that no current plasma or LCD/LED TVs come close. We also had a chance to get a bit closer to Sony’s 4K OLED-TV in order to truly appreciate the detail level of 4K. It was very impressive.

Sony exhibited this 4K OLED-TV at CES

Samsung & LG need to worry

The most impressive thing about the 4K OLED-TV was not the 4K resolution but the picture characteristics of the OLED technology. 4K is relevant but not a big revolution in relatively “small” 55-56” displays. OLED on the other hand is a display technology revolution. We have said it before and will say it again: OLED is the future.

Sony and Panasonic’s OLED prototypes were extremely impressive and the Japanese TV makers look prepared to compete with Samsung and LG when the display industry moves into the next phase. Now it all depends on who can scale up OLED mass production and bring down costs. Panasonic and Sony produce OLEDs with a printing method. The real question is if the printing method is the true competitive advantage over the South Korean display makers?

Time will make us wiser.

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