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organic light emitting diode

LG has launched a 55 in (140 cm) OLED TV – kickstarting a battle over the next-generation of high-quality screens.

OLED (organic light-emitting diode) is more energy efficient than LCD (liquid crystal display) and plasma-based alternatives.

LG’s model will be sold in South Korea first with other markets, including Europe, to follow thereafter.

Both LG and Samsung announced 55 in OLEDs last year, but LG is the first to make its available.

The firms showcased their televisions at last January’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, but until now neither company had managed to get a product to market.

LG’s headstart on its rival helped give it a 5.4% share price boost on Wednesday.

LG has launched a 55 in OLED TV, kickstarting a battle over the next-generation of high-quality screens

LG has launched a 55 in OLED TV, kickstarting a battle over the next-generation of high-quality screens

The 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) OLED television will sell for 11 million won ($10,300). Analysts said the technology was unlikely to become more affordable until at least 2015 – but that this latest release was more about cementing LG’s position as a market leader.

That said, global sales of OLED televisions are expected to grow to 1.7 million by 2014, according to research firm DisplaySearch.

OLED screens have been touted as the successor to the popular liquid crystal displays (LCD).

The technology allows for the display of darker and deeper blacks, and can be made thinner than competing display methods.

Smaller OLED screens are already in mass distribution. Samsung uses the technology in its smartphones, and Sony’s PlayStation Vita handheld console also utilizes the thin, light technology.

Many predict that OLED screens will allow for the development of a new generation of “bendy” gadgets, some of which are expected to be unveiled over the course of the year.

But larger OLED screens have proven difficult to manufacture due mainly to cost and reliability constraints.

Another technology, known as 4K, has also been given a lot of attention from manufacturers.

Dubbed “Ultra HD”, 4K offers 8 million pixels per frame – four times the resolution of 1080p high-definition displays – making it particularly well suited for extra large screens. 110 in (279 cm) models are expected to be put on show at CES next week.

Existing 4K TV sets are LCD-based. But according to some purists, OLED offers a richer quality display so might be better the better option for 55 in screens.

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LG Electronics has released what is described as the world’s biggest ultra-definition (UD) TV.

LG UD TV sports an 84 in (213 cm) screen, smaller than a 90 in model made by Sharp, but LG boasts support for 4K, a more advanced picture format.

The screen offers 8 million pixels per frame, four times the resolution of 1080p high-definition displays.

The firm sees this technology as a key marketing tool to help challenge market leader Samsung.

LG Electronics has released what is described as the world's biggest ultra-definition (UD) TV

LG Electronics has released what is described as the world's biggest ultra-definition (UD) TV

Toshiba already offers a smaller 55 in 4K screen, and Panasonic a 20 in model. Sony and Samsung are also developing their own devices.

However, LG’s 25 million-won ($22,010) price tag is likely to dissuade many from investing in its technology at present.

“The 4K display market is still in its infancy but it was important for LG to claim a stake in this space,” said the chief executive of LG Electronics Home Entertainment, Havis Kwon.

The South Korean company is the second-largest seller of flatscreen television screens, and is known to compete with its domestic rival, Samsung, for bragging rights.

Earlier this year it sought to upstage its rival by showing off the world’s largest OLED (organic light-emitting diode) at the Consumer Electronics Show trade show in Las Vegas. But when Samsung heard about the news it shipped an identically sized model to the event.

One analyst said that sales of the latest release were likely to be limited, but it provided an indication of where the industry was pointed.

“4K is a technology that is an evolutionary step that – maybe a long way down the line – will be the successor to today’s HD televisions,” said Daniel Simmons from IHS Screen Digest.

“It’s a step up in image quality, offering the opportunity to have cinema-quality resolution in the home and is a noticeable improvement.

“But it is worth recognizing that many people only upgraded their televisions from CRT [cathode ray tube] models in order to have a larger flatscreen model – the high-definition feature was not the primary motivator.

“4K allows people to have even bigger screens in their homes and it may be the screen size, rather than the resolution itself, that makes it attractive.”

LG’s 84 in model has initially been released in South Korea ahead of its launch elsewhere in the world in September. It will also show off the device at the IFA tech trade show in Berlin at the end of August.