What is an OLED TV?
An OLED TV screen uses a new display technology called OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). OLED televisions are brighter, more efficient, thinner and feature better refresh rates and contrast than either LCD or Plasma. Simply put, OLED TVs deliver the best picture quality ever!
A little bit about the technology
OLEDs are made by placing thin films of organic (carbon based) materials between two conductors. When electrical current is applied, a bright light is emitted. The OLED materials emit light and do not require a backlight (unlike LCDs). Each pixel is a small light-emitting diode, in fact. OLED TV panels offers several advantages over LCDs:
- Faster refresh rate, better contrast and better color reproduction
- Thin and light: OLED TVs today are just 4 mm thick, and some OLED panel prototypes are merely 0.3 mm thick!
- Better viewing angle - almost 180 degrees
- Greener: OLEDs draw less power, and contain no toxic metals (that's almost true - OLEDs contain a trace amount of Iridium, a non-toxic heavy metal)
- OLED panels can potentially be made flexible and/or transparent
What's on the market today
The only company that currently produces OLED TV panels is LG Display. LG Electronics has several OLED TV models on the market - ranging in size from 55" to 77". Some of these are flat, and some are curved (and the high-end 77EG9900 is a bendable TV).
LG's cheapest OLED TV is currently the 55EG9100, a curved 55" Full-HD TV that is currently shipping for $1,999. All of LG's 2015 OLED TV models support 4K resolution. The curved 55" 4K 55EG9600 is now shipping for $2,999, while the 65" 65EG9600 is shipping for $4,999. LG's flat 4K OLEDs (the EF9500 series) are shipping for about the same prices.
LG Display also supplies panels to other companies (including Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and KTC in China) and is also collaborating with Panasonic and Grundig and Sony. Panasonic announced their first OLED TV, the 65" curved 4K TX-65CZ950, but it is not shipping yet.
LG's TV is based on LG Display's Oxide-TFT white-OLED with color filters (WOLED, or WRGB, more on this below) OLED panel. LG are quite excited of this new TV - they call it calling it the "Ultimate Display" and they say that this is the "most transformational moment" in the TV industry since the introduction of the color TV 60 years ago.
In August 2013, Samsung launched an OLED TV as well, the KN55S9C. Samsung stopped producing and marketing the S9C OLED TVs soon, and is currently focused on quantum-dot enhanced LCDs. Hopefully Samsung will return to the OLED TV market soon. Some reports suggest that Samsung does plan to release a new OLED TV by 2017.
Direct Emission vs WRGB
The basic OLED TV design uses 3 color OLED sub-pixels (RGB: Red, Green and Blue) to create each 'pixel'. This is referred to as a direct emission OLED (or SBS, side-by-side), and is the design Samsung uses in their small displays and in their OLED TVs - which are no longer in production as this technology is very difficult to scale up.
LG Display is using a different architecture, called WRGB (or WOLED-CF) which uses four white OLED subpixels with color filters on top (RBG and W). The WRGB technology was developed by Kodak (and the IP is now owned by LG Display), and it is a far easier technology to scale and thus results in cheaper panels However it will also be less efficient.
Rollable and transparent OLED televisions?
Like we said before, OLEDs can be made flexible, or transparent. LG is actually developing a 60" 4K rollable TV - with an aim to have it ready by 2017. This will indeed give TV designers a freedom of design and totally redefine the TV of the future.
The latest OLED TV News:
- LG's flagship OLED TV, the 65" Signature G6, is now available for pre-orders for $7,999
- Here is LG's OLED TV Superbowl ad
- Adorama offers LG's 2015 FHD 55" EG9100 OLED TV for $1,399
- LG Display sold 400,000 OLED TV panels in 2015, half of that in Q4
- Samsung confirms it is developing OLED TV panels
- An OLED maker in China is gearing up towards OLED TV production
- LG saw improved OLED TV sales in Q4 2015, will spend $380 million to expand production in Q1 2016