It's taken years of fits and starts, but Americans will finally be able to buy first-generation big-screen OLED TVs very soon.
The Samsung KN55S9, a 55-inch OLED TV with a slightly curved screen, will be available at select dealers in the U.S. by mid-August. It will be Samsung's first OLED TV for sale in the U.S., hot on the heels of rival LG.
The Samsung news comes via Value Electronics, a high-end dealer based in Scarsdale, N.Y. CNET spoke with the owner, Robert Zohn, who says his first shipment of two of the new TVs is on its way. He believes he'll be the first U.S. dealer to be able to sell the product.
Zohn originally told CNET the KN55S9 would be available the week of July 22, but then followed up twice with rescheduled launch dates. The most he can tell CNET now is that the TVs will be available at his store by mid-August.
The store is charging $14,999 for the TV, a price that includes calibration and delivery. Selling prices at other retailers may vary, but they're unlikely to dip below the $13K mark charged in Korea.
Samsung has not made any official announcements yet, and its representative had no official comment for this story.
Here's a spec sheet (PDF) Zohn published, describing the TV's main strengths. The biggest is "pure black," a reference to OLED's ability to deliver the deepest shade of black of any TV technology -- potentially enabling OLED to outperform the best current LED and plasma TVs.
The spec sheet also mentions the supposed benefits of the slightly inward-curved (concave) screen, saying "viewers will enjoy a more natural match to our peripheral angle of view." Zohn, whose store is well known in the enthusiast community for hosting an annual flat-panel TV shootout, is also careful to specify an ideal seating distance to take advantage of the curve: a range between 6 and 10 feet from the screen. We're not sure how the curve will actually help image quality, but we're anxious to see it in action for ourselves.
Samsung has not announced U.S. availability of a flat version of its OLED TV, although it did announce one at CES.
The KN55S9 is finished with a "Timeless Arena" design, similar to that of Samsung's 85-inch 4K TV. It will include many of the company's high-end features, including a built-in camera that leverages the same advanced Smart Interaction suite found on the F8000 LEDs; a multiview function that can show two 2D programs at once using dedicated glasses; as well as support for the Smart Evolution Kit.
It appears the KN55S9 will actually be the second OLED TV available for sale in the U.S. That's because LG also announced today that its own $14,999, 55-inch, curved OLED TV is now available for preorder, and shipping soon to Best Buy's Magnolia stores nationwide. Aside from bragging rights, the question of "first" is largely academic for TVs at these prices and very limited quantities.
Zohn has offered to let CNET editors take an in-depth look at the new Samsung OLED TV when it arrives. We'll let you know more then. In the meantime here's a video from CES.
Samsung's curved OLED TV: The shape of things to come?
Originally updated with information and links to LG's curved OLED TV announcement, then with information on Samsung's rescheduling of the shipping date.