Will Vizio Bring Down OLED TV Prices?

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Q. I read your story about OLED TV prices not likely to come down much. But I just saw that Vizio is going to have an OLED TV. Doesn’t Vizio have lower prices than other TV makers? So, wouldn’t that mean OLED TV will start costing less? — Hank, Reno, Nevada. 

Hank, you’re right. Vizio, which has focused on selling LED sets, has announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that it will launch a 55-inch and 65-inch OLED TV in 2020. The company will join Sony and LG in selling OLED TVs, regarded as offering the best picture on the market.

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Vizio did not reveal pricing for the two OLED models, nor when they will go on sale. (Spring is likely.) But many OLED fans, and some journalists, are already speculating it could mean that an OLED set will be available for under $1,000 for the first time.

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(The ‘cheapest’ OLED to date has been LG’s 55-inch unit, which can be purchased now for around $1,200 if you’re okay with buying an earlier model. Comparably-sized 55-inch TVs from companies such as Samsung and TCL go for half that price.)

Vizio has a well-earned reputation for offering cheaper TV alternatives while maintaining name-brand quality. So the early thinking is that Vizio will do the same with OLEDs.

However, before you get too excited, Vizio has not revealed yet how its OLED sets will be manufactured. The odds, however, are that it will need to purchase the OLED panels from LG, which has provided the same service for Sony. That will likely keep overall manufacturing costs high, which will make it more difficult for Vizio to trim the price tag.

In addition, the OLED TV has a reputation as being the best TV in the world so Vizio knows it can keep prices relatively high and still sell a lot of sets.

Bottom line: I think you’ll see Vizio introduce a sub-$1,000 55-inch OLED TV in 2020, but don’t expect it to be much under $1,000. $999 would be a good bet, and that would still be $300-$500 less than what LG asks for a new 55-inch OLED.

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