Although not first in 3D, LG has moved from last to second

Analysis by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: LG Electronics last night proved that sometimes the last will be second, with its belatedly launched 3D TVs available at retail next week, just a few weeks after Samsung’s first-to-market range. Unlike its Korean competitors, however, LG is targeting a much higher price point, with its premium launch models selling for RRP $5,199 and $4,099.

At the launch event in Sydney last night, guests were able to test drive the premium Full LED models, which certainly provided a good 3D TV experience. The images were bright and deep, and the TV-glasses combination were able to provide the “coming right at you” effect that is the technology’s big selling point.

One of LG’s major rivals, Panasonic, is constantly reminding the industry that LCD and LED LCD 3D technology doesn’t work when the head is tilted 90° to one side. Current.com.au did investigate this claim on LG’s TVs, and it is true that the screen darkens to almost black when one does this. Two points, however, must be made: as 3D is an active form of entertainment, it’s unlikely many viewers will want to watch programs at that angle and, even if it should prove a dealbreaker, LG is also offering 3D on plasma panels.

Because LG is supplying 3D in both plasma and LED LCD, but not in LCD, we now have a rather unique situation where all four major suppliers are offering its 3D range across different platforms:

Sony: LED LCD only.
Panasonic: Plasma only.
Samsung: LED LCD, Plasma and LCD.
LG: LED LCD and Plasma.

Whether this is a quirk that will prove irrelevant once the category matures or if this is an issue that will influence retailers’ ranging decisions is difficult to predict. It’s definitely an advantage to have the four major brands pushing different technologies, as this provides greater economies of scale in technology marketing (as opposed to brand marketing), but it also might be confusing to consumers, some of which may already be overwhelmed by 3D’s sudden projection from novelty to immediacy.

The biggest surprise from yesterday’s launch was the release dates. Whereas the Japanese company’s launched their 3D ranges with long lead-in times (almost five months in Sony’s case), LG joined Samsung in showing off its range just a week before its retail launch. This quickfire move harnesses the press coverage that a launch generates, with LG set to receive a strong momentum push between now and 3D TVs watershed event: State of Origin.

During last week’s round of NRL matches and representative fixtures, Harvey Norman was strong in its 3D promotion. The use of the video ref decision screen to promote the 26 May broadcast was inspired, with consumers constantly having the message reinforced. Heretofore, it was expected that only Samsung would benefit from this landmark event, but LG has once again complicated matters: let the new Korean War begin.

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