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LG launches first 55in OLED HDTV set ahead of CES 2013 unveiling

LG has officially launched its first large-format organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV set, the 55EM9700, ahead of the device's showcasing at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas later this month - becoming the first company to start volume shipments of a large-format OLED TV.

Designed as a higher-quality replacement for the current liquid-crystal display (LCD) technology used for TVs, OLED uses small light-emitting diodes for each pixel on the screen. Each diode is able to generate its own light, and can be switched on and off at will. The result is a picture with a stunning contrast ratio, where blacks look truly black - something that LCD sets, which have a permanently-on backlight which gets partially blocked by the 'black' pixels in a picture, simply can't offer.

The technology also promises other improvements over LCD. Because there's no need for a separate backlight system, OLED TV sets can be considerably slimmer than their LCD equivalents, and draw less power. These improvements come at a price, however: while OLED has proved popular as a technology for small-scale displays, such as those found on smartphones, scaling it up to a large-format display for use as a living-room TV has been difficult in the extreme.

It's a problem LG, among others, claim to have solved, with several companies planning to launch OLED TVs into the market this year. LG's solution is a change to its manufacturing technology which allows it to create high-quality OLED panels significantly cheaper than previously possible. The result is the 55EM9700, a 55in OLED HDTV which will be on show at CES later this month and has gone on sale in LG's native South Korea this week.

Measuring just 4mm thick and weighing under 10kg, the OLED TV uses LG's new WRGB technology - a four-colour system which features a white sub-pixel in addition to the usual red, green and blue, providing improved colour output which is further boosted through the use of a Colour Refiner engine.

"We are extremely pleased to be able to make this announcement at the start of the new year because we believe that OLED will usher in a whole new era of home entertainment," Havis Kwon, president and CEO of LG's home entertainment arm, said of the set. "Not since colour TV was first introduced 60 years ago has there been a more transformational moment. When high definition TV was first introduced 15 years ago, the public’s reaction was 'wow!' but when customers see our razor-thin OLED TV for the first time, they’re left speechless. That's a clear indicator as any that OLED TV is much more than just an incremental improvement to current television technology."

Pricing and availability for the UK have yet to be confirmed, with more details expected from the company's CES showing.

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