LG's Tim Alessi: Why You Want Ultra HD OLED

LG 65EC9700 65-Inch Ultra HD OLED TV

LG made headlines this past summer with the announcement that its 55-inch OLED TV would sell for $3,500. Not cheap, but a whopping 75 percent less than what its predecessor sold for. Then along came the 65EC9700, a TV capable of delivering lush OLED images in 4K resolution that sells for $10,000. LG made headlines again—this time for making television’s holy grail a reality. We spoke with Tim Alessi, director of new product development, for the story behind this inspiring 65-inch hybrid.

S&V: At the moment, LG appears to be the only TV maker fully committed to OLED. Why?
Tim Alessi: Since 2013, LG has released three OLED TVs in the U.S. and that number will be up to five by the end of 2014. LG’s leadership in this picture technology directly relates to our WRGB OLED configuration because it is better suited for mass production, especially with larger screen sizes. We can’t speak to our competitors, but we have been perfecting our manufacturing process and as a result are able to produce OLED TVs on a mass scale.

S&V: The press release announcing the 65EC9700 calls 4K OLED a “true game-changer.” Can you elaborate?
TA: The 65EC9700 is one of our Ultra HD 4K OLED TVs—the first of its kind to ever hit U.S. retail. It is basically the holy grail of TVs because it combines today’s two most important picture technologies—Ultra HD and OLED—for the best picture available. Ultra HD offers consumers a picture comprised of more than 8 million pixels, rather than the 2 million in traditional Full HD TVs, which equates to a much higher level of detail. Perhaps even more exciting, OLED, as an emissive technology, can produce an infinite contrast ratio and more accurate colors as well as vastly superior viewing angles. Overall, these TVs boast picture quality that’s better than anything ever created.

S&V: What’s the thinking behind the curved screen?
TA: The main benefit of the curved screen is an immersive viewing experience, especially for TVs with larger screen sizes. When you take into account how thin OLED TVs are—roughly 4.5 millimeters at their thinnest point—the curve gives these TVs an aesthetic appeal unlike other TVs on the market.

S&V: Tell us about the significance of LG’s WRGB OLED technology? How does it differ from other approaches?
TA: A traditional TV’s pixels are configured with a red, green, and blue sub-pixel structure and then they use a color filter to create additional colors. With our proprietary WRGB technology, we’ve added a white sub-pixel to the traditional red, green, and blue. The results are improved color accuracy and an expanded available color range. Images are rendered with stunning precision with colors virtually indiscernible from those in the real world. As an added benefit, it’s easier to mass produce WRGB technology at larger screen sizes.

S&V: What other technologies and technical features set this TV apart from other flagship TVs?
TA: Just as with all our Ultra HD sets, our Ultra HD 4K OLED TVs incorporate new technology standards—such as the latest HDMI interface and H.265 decoding—capable of handling Ultra HD programming, whether it’s streamed over the Internet or playing from a USB or HDMI source. With these technologies on board, consumers will have an Ultra HD TV that will be ready to accept new sources of 4K content as they become available. These new sets include LG’s Tru-4K Engine Pro which uses a dual-chip, six-step process to upscale HD content into 4K, providing a stunning viewing experience for legacy content as well. They are also smart TVs, utilizing our webOS interface, so they give users access to streaming content such as Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. The webOS platform is the easiest to use and most family-friendly smart TV platform, which also sets LG apart from other TV manufacturers.

S&V: Which user features set the 65EC9700 apart from other flagship TVs?
TA: The TVs use LG’s Smart TV+ webOS, provides an intuitive interface that offers lightning-quick transitions between broadcast TV, streaming services, and external devices. Those features were developed around the core concepts of “simple connection,” “simple switching,” and “simple discovery” and are accessible via one click on the “launcher bar” menu; transition speeds are similar to regular channel switching. A feature I particularly like is the webOS Smart+ TV menu, which can be subtly overlaid on the screen so viewers never have to leave what they are watching while they search for the next program to enjoy. The platform also includes recommendation capability to help viewers sift through its expansive content options.

S&V: Tell us about the 65EC9700’s design. What’s special about it?
TA: Despite all of the technology packed into it, the EC9700 is still only as thick as a few credit cards at its thinnest point and weighs only about 50 pounds (without the stand). And, as noted earlier, it features a subtle curve that gives it more aesthetic appeal and provides viewers an immersive experience.

S&V: Who is the target customer for the 65EC9700?
TA: As a premium set, the main target is a videophile or home theater enthusiast. However, we think everyone who sees one of these TVs in person will immediately become a fan. With the best picture quality on the market, these TVs will not only appeal to the discerning videophiles but any consumers who just love an amazing picture.

S&V: How long will it take for OLED to reach mass-market price levels?
TA: In 2013, LG’s first 55-inch OLED TV was priced at $15,000. Its successor—this year’s 55EC9300—is currently available for $3,500, which is in line with many high-end Ultra HD TVs. As we continue to gain manufacturing efficiencies, consumers will benefit in the form of a greater variety of models and prices.

Hi-Reality's picture

Dear Bob,

Thank you for this interesting interview. I am looking forward to see an LG 55EC9700 Ultra HD OLED (55" version) and I would appreciate if you could share Mr. Alessi's contact information with me via http://hi-reality.org/about/contact-us

Regards, Babak
Founder, Project manager and System integrator
The Hi-Reality Project

Bob Ankosko's picture
The best way to reach Mr. Alessi is through the contact page at lg.com.
Hi-Reality's picture

Ok, thank you.

HomeTeam's picture

My only question is are these TVs still going to have the energy efficiency that OLED promised years ago?

Agheler's picture

.....he tried to convince me curved is anything other than a marketing gimmick.

Mister Leadfoot's picture

I never liked when most CRT's were convex, why would I want a tv that's concave? Flat is what we want.

gunhed's picture

Apparently there is a flat version coming. Hooray !