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Sony’s A1E OLED 4K HDR TV U.S Prices Finally Unveiled. Here’s What We Think

by on March 14, 2017
 

Stephan Jukic – March 14, 2017

Though I doubt anyone thought Sony’s new A1E OLED TVs would be cheap, the prices finally being unveiled for them are probably going to disappoint even a number of Sony fans who were expecting to pay a steep premium for OLED and Sony goodness in one single package.

Sony has announced that it’s going to be shipping out its extremely anticipated new A1E OLED HDR 4K TVs to the U.S market as of April and is already offering them up for pre-order. Starting price? $5,000 for the 55 inch model and a hefty $6,500 for the 65 inch version. Sony is also planning the release of a giant 77 inch A1E TV but hasn’t yet announced its specific availability or a possible price, though we’re guessing it will be available to order as of the summer and probably come priced at around $10,000 given how the price of the 65 inch A1E model compares to that of the 65 inch Sony LCD flagship, the Z9D.

Sony also still has yet to confirm pricing for its A1E OLED TVs for other markets such as Canada, though European pricing has been announced already.

sony_bravia_a1e_oled_back_1483596469905

Strangely, when we reported the supposed upcoming European prices of the A1E OLED several weeks ago, the 3,799 Euro retail cost of the 55 inch A1E (called the A1 in the UK) amounted to an expected U.S dollar price of just $4,030, which was close to what we expected the A1E to retail for whenever it came out in the U.S and which would have been consistent with LG’s prices for some of their 2017 55 inch OLED TV models. This European market price now seems suspiciously low considering Sony’s official U.S MSRP for the A1E and is an issue we’ll clear up as formal European prices are clarified.

It’s also interesting to note that with these official prices, the Sony A1E OLED models are selling for a lot more than many of their LG counterparts from the new 2017 OLED lineup from the LG brand. For example, the 2017 C7 55 inch edition, which also supports all three currently significant HDR standards (HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG) just as the A1E does, has been unveiled by LG for an MSRP of “just” $3,500. Even the 65 inch C7 OLED model, with a suggested retail price of $4,500, costs less than the 55 inch Sony A1E! Of course, this comparison is also not entirely fair since Sony’s A1E is the brand’s absolute top flagship 2017 4K TV (along with its LCD counterpart the Z9D) while the LG C6 TVs are only third-tier 2017 OLED televisions, behind the more steeply priced picture-on-glass E7 (at $4,500 for the 55 inch edition) and the LG flagship W7P and G7P TVs, which respectively cost $8000 and $7000 for their 65 inch editions, making them even pricier than Sony’s new OLED.

LG's also excellent 2017 E7 OLED HDR TV comes prices $500 cheaper than its Sony A1E counterpart

LG’s also excellent 2017 E7 OLED HDR TV comes prices $500 cheaper than its Sony A1E counterpart

On the other hand, all of the OLED TV panels currently used by major brands today come from LG itself. Thus, the A1E likely delivers what should amount to the same level of raw display performance as its LG OLED counterparts, regardless of pricing. Sony however has always been prone to pricing its TVs more steeply than comparable rival models and partly for an acceptable reason, namely that the company does indeed deliver some excellent picture processing technology and other associated TV performance features.

Thus, for fans of OLED display, the A1E may seem to be priced arbitrarily higher than its LG rivals in the same size ranges but its higher cost could be justified by the helpful presence of Sony’s notably superb X1 Extreme Video processing chip system, which might arguably give a new spin to how well OLED performs in this particular TV. However, we don’t expect the A1E to literally outshine the 2017 LG OLED models in terms of peak brightness, or outperform them at how well it handles local dimming and black levels (both of which are pretty much universally the same in any OLED TV display panel being released in 2017).

Then as one final major justification for the Sony A1E’s remarkably steep price, we have the possibly gimmicky feature of speaker technology built right into the TV’s screen itself. This is a new spin on television audio implementation that Sony is touting as a definite improvement over traditional speaker layouts since in the A1E, all sound comes to a viewer directly from the picture itself, creating a more “realistic” auditory experience for users while they watch movies and other content. How much real value the screen speaker of the A1E creates is something we’ll have to test for ourselves when we do a review of this TV. For now, it seems like a fairly weak justification for the extra $1500 to $500 you’d have to spend for Sony OLED technology over what LG’s also absolutely stunning C7 and E7 would cost you.

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Finally, for those of you among our readers who would love to get your hands on an OLED 4K HDR TV but are thoroughly disgusted by the prices of these 2017 TVs, we have to note that for one thing, the price tags we’re seeing now are initial release MSRPs. In other words, they will almost certainly decrease further into 2017 and possibly sooner rather than later, so if you absolutely want a Sony OLED or a 2017 LG OLED, you might want to consider waiting a bit for some savings. Secondly the 2016 OLED TVs are still absolutely available and all of them are just as excellent as they ever were. These are of course only LG models (for U.S buyers) but they offer superb display specs, full HDR support, most of the same color performance as the 2017 OLEDs will offer and  while the 2016 OLED models aren’t quite capable of the same peak brightness as some of their 2017 cousins, they still shine superbly. The 2016 B6 OLED in particular is a stunning model with excellent levels of brightness and one fantastic price of just over or slightly under $2000 for the 55 inch model depending on what sort of deal you find it on sale for.

Finally, here’s a comparison of all current 2017 OLED 4K HDR TVs based on their prices, sizes and release dates:

Brand    Model                Size           US price              Availability

LG          OLED55C7P        55-inch    $3,500                Now

LG          OLED65C7P        65-inch    $4,500                Now

LG          OLED55E7P         55-inch   $4,500                May

LG          OLED65E7P         65-inch   $6,000                March

LG          OLED65G7P        65-inch    $7,000               March

LG          OLED65W7P       65-inch    $8,000                March

Sony      XBR-55A1E         55-inch    $5,000                April

Sony      XBR-65A1E         65-inch    $6,500                April

 

Story by 4k.com

10 comments
 
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  • Troy
    March 15, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Interestingly Sony doesn’t have the foothold or, in my opinion, the namesake to bring these models in this high. I think they’re shooting themselves in the foot with these high prices. They’re processing can’t be $1500 better than LG, I’d bet my OLED TV on that!

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      March 15, 2017 at 11:57 am

      I would largely agree with you on this Troy. The panels are from LG and no amount of video processing from Sony’s current technology is going to make those OLED pixels perform THAT much better. The speaker screen is also a poor justification. I believe that Sony believes it can pull these prices off simply because many buyers will willingly pay extra to see OLED display on something that doesn’t belong to LG (at least in the U.S, since in Europe there is greater availability of both Panasonic and Philips OLED TVs). If the high price fails at sales, they can always lower it a bit later in 2017 and I’m willing to bet we’re going to see that happen sooner rather than later.

      Reply

      • MrSatyre
        March 16, 2017 at 2:33 pm

        As a former KURO manufacturer, I can tell you that the majority of the price of a panel is in the processing, not the panel. While OLEDs are not cheap (yet) to manufacture in large sizes at large quantities, quality processing for high AND low def content is the real determining factor of how to drive the pixels to their maximum performance capabilities, and $1500 is not at all an unreasonable premium to expect for superior processing. And, to say that Sony doesn’t have the foothold or the namesake is just ludicrous. While LG OLED displays are very good with 4K content, they leave a lot to be desired when scaling from lower resolution sources—even 1080p sources.

        Reply

    • Edddy
      March 15, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      There’s a lot of buzz on Sony’s first OLED TV. Especially, with the sound design.

      That’s why the price is so steep.

      Reply

  • Scott
    March 15, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    You guys give LG way to much credit. And you don’t give Sonys processing any credit at all. I just don’t understand it. LG has the w7 at 8000 and I don’t see the words disgusting being thrown around. Or the similar price tag on the q9 from Samsung. This site always seems to have something against Sony.

    Also you know those prices will lower by launch day. The z9d dropped over a thousand on day one. The 75x940e was priced 2000 more a few weeks ago. Use common sense here.

    Reply

    • Stephen
      Stephen
      March 15, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      Hi there Scott, I can promise you that we have no specific bias against any brand, and much less Sony. We attempt to only call out things we think are unfair to buyers whenever we notice them, regardless of brand. Here at 4K.com we have regularly praised many of Sony’s 4K TVs in numerous ways and our main TV page contains numerous models from Sony that we consider to be among our top recommendations. Conversely, with LG, we have regularly and heavily criticized some of the defects we perceive in their LCD TVs. LG’s OLED’s are genuinely stunning televisions so we’ve found little to criticize about their quality, and furthermore, some of them like the B6 are also remarkably cheap by OLED standards.

      We consider the A1E to be overpriced specifically because it offers something very similar to Samsung’s C7 2017 OLED in terms of picture quality but costs $1500 more in the same size range. Sony’s genuinely excellent processing engine the X1 Extreme is great but not great enough to deliver $1500 worth of picture improvement on what is fundamentally an LG display panel just like that of the C7. We also believe that Sony will drop its prices for the A1E and is simply testing the water with this high MSRP we’re now seeing but that doesn’t change the fact that we don’t consider the price to be justifiable given other OLED options in existence right now..

      Reply

  • Romey Moore
    March 16, 2017 at 11:58 am

    My2¢:
    Sonys processing and new sound tech isnt the only reason that there is such a price increase. When you are sony and not making the oled panels, you automatically have to price them above what the manufacturer also “competition” is selling their tv sets at. Will really be hard to come in under what the “competition” is selling their own sets at when they also make the panels. Since they “do” make oled sets for the professional folks, like broadcast and disc mastering: and they are priced stratospherically, it only falls in line that sony feels that any oled with their banner on it is an exceptional piece of engineering – and its possible that some of the pro engineering of their oleds has filtered down into their consumer brand. Sony is the only manufacturer that has created oled monitors for the pro market that can do rec 2020, a wider color gamut than can be viewed by any consumer set. When you can make oleds do that, your consumer brand wont dissapoint.
    As far as the “sound display” technology, reviews say that its actually pretty good. More center channel feel than a sound bar. Its not the cost of of the technology though. Its just reinvented old tech from years ago. The increase comes by providing a new experience along with sony tech. Top-tier products are always priced as such. An example of this is a Benz “S”class. After a year or so, some of the tech filters down to the rest, or some of their other model line(s). After some time the price will come down. Maybe sonys oled will hold the same place as pioneers kuro did with plasmas. For this we have to wait and see. For me, I am now looking at sonys oled’s when the only choice used to be Lg’s(for obvious reasons).
    I also wonder if the opening high price was in their contract with Lg’s display tech. If I made oleds and decided to sell them to a competitor, I might make it so they couldnt price undercut my sets. Just a thought.

    Reply

  • James m.
    March 17, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    The 55″s esp are overpriced imo but it is strategic and should come down pretty fast if they want to compete with LG-Panasonic & Philips in Europe.

    Reply

  • Anton
    March 17, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    I’d like to know how sonys proccessing effects input lag. I can tell you their LCDs have some of the best in the industry and LG OLED has some of the worst. If Sony can bring over low input lag to OLED, this would sell me in a second over the competition. It’s seems as this is never a huge spec point in reviews; there are millions of gamers that find this extremely important.

    Reply

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