What is an OLED?
OLED is a light-emitting diode built from thin films of organic electroluminescent material sandwiched between electrodes. Since the materials are luminescent, they produce light when the current is run through them. The direct-emission nature of OLEDs enable it to provide the best quality TVs on the market.
One of the main advantages of OLEDs is their flexible nature. This enables the production of bendable TVs. The idea is that such TVs can change from a flat screen to a curved one (with holds unique advantages for the viewers).
The advantages and disadvantages of curved panels
A curved TV can enhance the viewer’s immersive experience with its curved form, as the screen "wraps around. The curved screen has a curved trajectory similar to a person’s ‘Horopter Line’ allowing the maintenance of a constant focus. Another advantage of a curved TV is that the distance from the viewer is constant (unlike a flat TV in which the middle is closer than the edges). This means that in a flat TV there's a subtle image and color distortion which does not occur in a curved panel. The larger the flat screen and the closer the distance from the screen, the distortion becomes more noticeable.
A curved screen also feels larger and brighter compared to a flat TV. This, again, enhances the viewing experience. It is said that a viewer will feel that the size of a curved TV screen is larger than its actual size. Curved OLED TV also feels brighter because the light coming from the screen is focused on the center of the screen.
One final, and crucial advantage, is reduced reflections. The curved display eliminates reflections from ambient lighting on the sides, and it also reduces specular (mirror) reflections.
Nonetheless, voices arise arguing the disadvantages of curved OLED TVs: there is a claim that in order to get the benefit of a wraparound image, you need to be sitting in a pretty specific place. That sweet spot can be very small, possibly fitting only one viewer. Other faults arguably include limitation of viewing angles, elevated prices and, of course, looking less attractive mounted on a wall.
Curved TV launched at around 2013, but quickly fell out of fashion - and today very little curved TVs are sold, if at all.
Bendable OLED TVs
When people actually considered buying curved TVs, flexible OLED makers started to discuss the option of building bendable OLED TVs - a novel concept that allows a shift from flat to curved screen and vice versa at the press of a button. This enables viewers to enjoy both the flat and curved experiences in one set, encompassing both OLED’s superior image quality and the immersive experience of a curved TV. It can be neatly attached to a wall in its flat form, but curved at will to grant the ultimate viewing experience.
The W82 sports a 65-inch 120Hz WOLED TV panel (produced by LG Display) and features Dolby Vision, HDR10, Skyworth's AI Picture Quality 4K engine, VRR and 240Hz Crystal Motion OLED. The TV will start shipping in May 2021 in China for 29,999 Yuan (around $4,575).
Rollable OLED TVs
While bendable OLED TVs are interesting, another TV technology is becoming commercial - rollable OLED TVs. In 2020 LG started shipping the world's first rollable TV, the 65" 65RX.
The latest bendable OLED TV news:
LG Electronics announced six new OLED TVs - including some curved TVs, some flat ones - and also the world's first bendable TV. All of LG's new TVs use 4K resolution. LG Display says that LG is committed to the "superior qualities of OLED" and sees 2015 as the breakout year for OLED TVs.
So the most interesting TV is probably the EG9900, which features a 77" 4K OLED panel that can be switched from a flat state to a curved one. It uses a newly developed anti-glare filter and is powered by a ten-core processor (!). LG did not disclose the price and release date of this TV. But it'll probably be very expensive as the company's fixed curved 77" 4K OLED was priced at $29,999 in 2014.
Some people like their TVs flat, and some like them curved. A curved TV has several image quality advantages, but they look less nice mounted on your wall. A bendable TV offers the best of both worlds - you can hang it flat on the wall, and curve it when you want. Don't miss our new article on bendable OLED TVs - which according to LG will arrive on the market next year.
LG Display posted an interesting article explaining their plastic-based flexible OLED technologies and displays - showing how these displays are better than LCD displays in several aspects (mainly the fact that plastic OLEDs are thinner than LCDs and glass-based OLEDs). In addition, LG Display posted their flexible OLED roadmap:
As you can see, LG already produces flexible OLEDs for phones and wearable devices. In 2015-2016 the company sees flexible OLEDs being adopted in tablets and bendable phones. From 2017, LGD sees flexible OLEDs being used to produce foldable and rollable devices.
In January 2014, LG unveiled a bendable 77" 4K OLED - a TV that can change from flat to curved (using a "combination of water and motors" - whatever that means). When at full curve, the curve is eight centimeters in total. An LG official now says that LG plans to release such a bendable OLED TV in 2015.
We do not know what will be the size of their first bendable TV, but it sure is going to be expensive. But this is actually a neat idea because it means you can wall-mount the TV on the wall and keep it flat, and only curve it when you want to watch it and when it makes sense. A 2015 release is actually in line with LG's original plan in early 2014.
Back in June 2012 LG was awarded with Korea's ambitious Future Flagship Program that aims to develop 60" flexible transparent UHD OLED displays by 2017. This project raised a few eyebrows and was never mentioned again. Now we hear that LG Display is still developing the technology, and still says that the want to be ready with a real product by the end of 2017.
LGD is currently developing a 17" transparent flexible OLED and they hope to ready a prototype by the end of 2014. If this is successful, LGD will move on to the next stage - the 60" UHD panel. This panel will feature 40% transmittance and a curvature radius of 10 cm.
LG unveiled a bendable 77" 4K OLED TV prototype a couple of days ago - this panel can change from flat to curved at the press of the button, allowing consumers to enjoy a single TV that can be both flat and curved. We finally got a video showing this interesting new prototype in action:
Updated: it turns out that the 85" bendable TV prototype is an LCD, but Samsung indeed also shows smaller (55") bendable OLEDs.
Yesterday we reported that Samsung unveiled a 85" bendable TV prototype at CES, and at that post I assumed that this was an LCD panel. But I'm happy to be mistaken - it's actually an OLED, as you can see from Samsung's booth photo clearly saying this is a bendable OLED TV:
It actually seems to me that those OLED TVs in the photo above aren't so big - it seems to be around 55" in size and not 85". So perhaps these are different prototype, I'm not sure, but now it seems likely that the 85" prototype bendable TV is also an OLED.
LG already announced it will be showing several new OLED TV models at CES (including new 55", 65" and 77" models), but today at CES the company unveiled a bendable 77" 4K OLED. As was speculated last month, this panel can change from flat to curved using a "combination of water and motors" (whatever that means).
Engadget says the new TV is gorgeous. They were told by LG that they actually plan to ship this TV to the US soon - at H2 2014 or maybe at the beginning of 2015. It'll be interesting to see how all this bending effects the OLED structure. The TV anyway moves 7.5 cm to bend (it's eight centimeters narrower in total at full curve).
In January 7 CES 2014 will begin, and it'll be very interesting to see what kind of new OLED products and prototypes will be launched during this exciting event. Highlights from CES 2013 included LG's OLED TV launch, Samsung's YOUM flexible OLED launch and 4.99" FHD mobile OLED (which was later adopted in the GS4) - and finally Sony's and Panasonic's 56" 4K OLED prototypes.
But what should we expect from CES 2014? So first, let's look at OLED TVs. LG and Samsung are bound to show their current flat and curved 55" OLED TV products at CES, and LG will most likely bring their 77" curved UHD OLED prototype, but we do not expect them to launch this as a product yet. The two Korean companies are quite likely though to unveil ready-to-market 4K OLED TVs, curved and flat. Samsung already showed a 55" 4K OLED prototype at IFA 2013.
Back in May, The US PTO granted a new patent to Samsung that describes a bendable OLED TV. The idea is that you can use a remote control to bend the television so you'll get a better viewing angle. The TV will include special software that adjusts the image so it is not distorted by the bending. Today the Korea Times reports that Samsung will unveil a prototype bendable OLED TV at CES 2014 (January 7). LG will also unveil a similar unit.
The report does not include more technical information, they only say that the the display size will be "huge". The OLED TV will have a plastic substrate and a back panel that can deform the display. It is possible that SDC will only unveil their prototype in closed meetings.