You are here

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!

LG EG9600 photo

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 all the latest models support 4K (UHD) resolution and HDR. Reviews of LG's OLED TVs are great, and most experts say that these are the best TVs ever produced - with virtually perfect image quality.

LG OLED65B6P photo
flat 4K 55"/65" ($2497 / $3999)
LG OLED65C6P photo
curved 4K 55" ($2497 / $3999)
LG OLED65E6P photo
Flat 4K TV (55" - $3,499 65" - $4,999)
LG OLED77G6P photo
65" / 77" premium flat 4K TV ($5,999 / $19,999)
LG EG9100 photo
55" Full-HD curved TV ($1,399)
55" and 65" curved 4K OLEDs ($1,800 / $2,499)

LG's cheapest OLED TV is currently the 55EG9100, a curved 55" Full-HD TV that is currently shipping for around $1,499. All of LG's 2016 OLED TV models support 4K resolution. The curved 55" 4K OLEDB6 is the company's entry-level model for 2016, and it costs around $2497. The OLED C6 series uses curved panels, and the high end OLED E6 sport a premium on-glass design, and the 55" model costs $3,499 while the 65" model costs $4,999. Finally, LG's top-end Signature G6 is now shipping for $5,999 for the 65" model (the 77" costs $19,999!).

LG Display also supplies panels to other companies - including Panasonic, Grundig, Philips, Metz, Loewe, Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and KTC.

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. Some reports suggest that Samsung does plan to start producing OLED TVs soon, but the company itself says it has no plans to do so in the near future.

Samsung curved OLED TV launch photo 2

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.

Toshiba ultra-thin flexible OLED prototype photo
Samsung Transparent AMOLED, CES 2009 photo

Further reading