Q. I keep reading that there’s no better picture than a picture from an OLED TV. I want to get one, but the prices for the sets are so much higher than other types of sets of the same type size. Why is this? Why are OLED TVs so expensive? — Peter, Kansas City.
Peter, I know it seems like OLED sets from LG, Panasonic and Sony are too expensive. Way too expensive, in fact.
But remember this: A high-def LG 55-inch OLED TV cost $14,999 in 2014 when it was first introduced. However, you can now buy the 4K 2018 edition of that TV for $1,199. That’s a dramatic price drop over six years, particularly considering that it’s a 4K TV which normally costs more than a high-def TV. That’s also a $400 drop from roughly a year ago.
Still, with 55-inch 4K TV sets from Samsung, Vizio, TCL and other TV makers going for well under $1,000, it’s fair to ask why the OLED TV is still priced much higher. Afterall, the 2019 edition of the LG 55-inch OLED TV now runs almost $1,600 while the 65-inch 2019 edition costs around $2,500.
There are two reasons for the higher OLED prices.
1. Production Issues
The OLED was priced so high back in 2014 because at the time it was extremely difficult to manufacture the ultra-thin set. The panels were so thin (just 0.17 inches thick) that LG could only make so many of them so it had to keep prices high and therefore demand low.
Since then, LG has streamlined the OLED production process, which has allowed it to manufacture more sets. Plus, Sony and Panasonic have jumped in with OLED models, creating more competition and manufacturing dollars. This has allowed the OLED TV makers to lower prices somewhat.
The production problem continues to exist, though, which has contributed to keeping prices high.
The OLED TV arguably offers the best picture on the market. The set combines some of the best features of Plasma and LED sets, displaying deep blacks and high contrast levels. The result is that the OLED TV’s eye-popping picture and sleek style is a real dazzler. I have never met a display expert yet who hasn’t gushed over an OLED TV’s picture.
LG, which has been the biggest advocate of OLED, has wisely capitalized on the set’s reputation, creating a market perception that it’s a unique TV and therefore worthy of unique prices. The company, and Sony and Panasonic, are keeping OLED prices where they are because it’s working. Why lower prices if you don’t have to?
Now you might say that they would sell more sets if they lowered prices. True, but then they would likely run into bigger production issues which in turn would lead to possible OLED shortages.
Better to have expensive sets in stores than no sets in stores for any extended period of time. The latter would dampen interest and ultimately perhaps make consumers forget about what is the best TV on the market.
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— Phillip Swann