Englewood Cliffs, N.J. – A little over a year after launching the first curved-screen 55-inch OLED TV through a limited number of Best Buy locations at a $14,999 introductory price, LG Electronics is using the big box chain and other regional CE chains to launch a second generation version ringing in at an astounding $3,499.
This time, LG and Best Buy said the 55-inch curved-screen FullHD LG OLED TV, model 55EC9300, will be available through over 1,000 Best Buy locations and other leading regional chains and A/V dealers, starting August 24th.
Best Buy TV merchant director Luke Motschenbacher said the chain will merchandise the set in a special dedicated end-cap display on its main selling floor. The display will have point-of-purchase messaging prepared by LG discussing all the features and benefits. Consumers will also be able to see demonstrations built into the TV to help experience what it will really look like in the home.
Last year’s OLED TV was positioned in the company’s Magnolia high-end home theater departments in a few flagship stores.
“I think OLED’s finally here and finally going to be a product that’s real for a lot more customers,” Motschenbacher told TWICE. “Once you start getting into that realm of [average selling price] you get into a lot more customers that expect the latest and greatest technology.”
He added that considering the initial $15,000 price tag, Best Buy “did quite well” with its inaugural model that LG launched as an exclusive with the chain last year.
LG quickly lowered the selling price to below $10,000 through a succession of price declines, before reaching the under $4,000 threshold with the model revealed today.
Motschenbacher said the SKU this year “looks even better than the model last year at a price that’s much more affordable and a market size that’s much, much larger.”
Best Buy is selling the 55EC9300 now on BestBuy.com, before opening it up to its brick-and-mortar stores. This will mark the third OLED TV that LG has released in 13 months.
LG USA corporate communications VP John Taylor said his company’s ability to roll out OLED sets at a time when its competitors’ efforts have stalled is helping to cement its dominance in the category.
“We’ve seen significant manufacturing efficiencies in the past year. That’s one of the benefits of entering the market early with our first generation product,” Taylor told TWICE, adding that LG’s production yields for OLED panel production are now comparable to where they were in the early days of LCD TV.
Despite having an introductory price 75 percent higher than the second generation unit, Taylor said the first generation product drew very strong interest and crucial market information, including the fact that consumers would like the opportunity to hang the display on the wall – an attribute added to the 55EC9300.
Taylor said sales of last year’s model met and exceeded “our conservative expectations.”
In addition to launching at Best Buy, LG is adding to the distribution rollout this go round both large and small regional dealers, including Brandsmart, hhgregg, Fry’s Electronics, P.C. Richard & Son and others. (Since this was posted, LG clarified earlier information to announce other retail chains were being added to the set’s distribution list this month).
“We see this as an opportunity to push OLED out to as many consumers as possible through these various channels,” Taylor said.
LG’s OLED TVs are made with the company’s proprietary “WRGB” technology, which is said to deliver very high picture quality with an “infinite contrast ratio” achieving deep black levels and a rich and varied color gamut.
The OLED panel is virtually paper thin, measuring 4.5 millimeters (11/64ths of an inch) at its thinnest point. The curved screen is accented with a frameless, bezel-less “Cinema Screen” design, offering an edge-to-edge picture.
The panel also offers very wide viewing angles and has one of the fastest response times of any flat-panel technology.
On top of the advanced picture performance, the set includes the company’s new LG Smart TV+ webOS connected TV platform, which provides an interface designed for quick transitions between broadcast TV, streaming services and external devices.
The system can be controlled through an LG Magic Remote, which works with simple gestures, point and click, scroll and voice commands.
For those who opt not to hang the set on the wall, the new design includes a streamlined matching stand.
Another attribute of OLED technology is energy efficiency. LG said the 55EC9300 is among the first OLED TVs to be Energy Star certified.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s “Energy Guide” label, the LG 55EC9300 has an estimated yearly energy cost of only $17.