No sooner has LG finally managed to get its debut OLED TV available to buy than it’s presenting us with two more models at this year’s CES. One curved model, the 55EA9800, we’ve already mentioned in passing in our hands on with Samsung’s debut curved OLED model. The other - more straightforward in that it’s flat! - is the LG 55EA8800 under scrutiny here.
The 55EA8800 hits you right between the eyes as soon as you arrive inside LG’s main stand (once you’ve battled past the huge but actually rather dated-feeling 3D demo area), thanks to its startling new design.
For starters, its 55in screen looks for all the world like it’s just hanging there in space, on account of one of the most ridiculously small bezels we’ve ever seen on a TV. The bezel looks barely half a centimeter across, while the set’s rear doesn’t look much wider.
Then there’s the new pedestal mount the screen sits on. Dubbed the ‘Flamingo’ stand by the people at LG whose job it is to come up with such things, this striking device zig-zags to and fro very elegantly, while also retaining a strikingly minimalist presence. Its smallness also reminds us in no uncertain terms of just how light OLED screens tend to be compared with traditional flat TVs.
Delving deeper into the 55EA8800 with various qualified folk on LG’s stand, though, uncovers a rather unpleasant surprise: namely that the 55EA8800 doesn’t differ in any significant technical way from the already-available 55LM960V. Or at least, its OLED picture system hasn’t been changed in any significant way. It thus arguably seems a bit cheeky for LG to be calling the 55EA8800 a second-generation OLED product.
That said, even delivering ‘only’ the same picture quality as its original OLED is no bad thing given the extraordinary amounts of contrast, colour, sharpness and motion-clarity the original tellie displayed (albeit only in showroom conditions - we haven’t yet been able to review one, of course).
As noted when we previewed the 55LM960V at last year’s CES, it remains the case that passive 3D images look slightly ‘old school’ when placed in the context of an OLED panel, but in every other way the 55EA8800‘s pictures look set to be the dog’s danglies.
Also, while the 55EA8800 might not differ much in picture quality terms from the 55LM960V, it does differ considerably when it comes to other key features. In particular, when it launches in the final quarter of the year, it will add to the OLED experience LG’s latest and clearly greatest Smart operating system.
This includes a gorgeously designed new interface, greatly enhanced support (including NFC) for communicating with second devices like phones and tablets, a newly designed magic remote system complete with extra, even more intuitive functionality, and a much more logical focus on helping users find content that even extends to what appears at this stage to be a surprisingly accomplished voice recognition system.
The other hope has to be, of course, that by the time the 55EA8800 comes out, LG might have got better at making OLED TVs more efficiently, resulting in a big drop in price. Though pessimists that we still tend to be where OLED is concerned, we’re not exactly expecting the 55EA8800 to be cheap enough to pop on our Santa list come next Christmas.