What is an OLED TV?
OLED TVs use a display technology called OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) that enables displays that are brighter, more efficient, thinner, flexible and with higher contrast and faster refresh rates than either LCD. Simply put, OLED TVs deliver the best picture quality ever!
OLED TV technology
Each pixel in an OLED TV emits light on its own (in fact each pixel is made from 3 different OLEDs, red, green and blue). OLEDs are truly emissive devices with a simple design which gives them many advantages over current LCD technology:
- Much higher contrast: in OLEDs we have true blacks as when a pixel is off it does not emit any light. In LCDs, the backlighting is always on and so true blacks are impossible to achieve. Even with high-end local dimming, the contrast of LCDs is simply no match for OLEDs.
- Higher refresh rates: OLEDs can switch on and off much faster than LCDs.
- Better power consumption: OLEDs only consume light on lit pixels - as opposed to LCDs who always need to use the backlighting. The power consumption of OLEDs depends on the image shown, but in most cases OLEDs will be more efficient than LCDS.
- Flexibility: the simple design of OLEDs enables next-generation flexible, bendable, foldable and even rollable displays. LG's amazing 65" rollable TV unveiled in 2019 would be very difficult to create (if not impossible!) using an LCD panel.
OLED TVs on the market - what can you buy today?
As of 2019, the only company that produces produces OLED TV panels is LG Display - making 55" to 88" OLEDs that offer the best image quality possible today. LGD is offering its OLED panels to many companies, including LG Electronics, Sony, Panasonic and many other companies.
LG's 2019 OLED TV line includes:
- The top of the range Z9 OLED TV which uses LGD's latest large 8K 88" OLED panel.
- The Wallpaper OLED W9 with its beautiful design
- The midrange OLED E9 and the new OLED C9, LG's "entry-level" OLED TVs.
- The world's first rollable OLED device - a TV that rolls into its base - the 65" Signature OLED TV R!
As of April 2019, LG is now shipping the OLEDC9 TVs - the 55" model costs $2,499 and the 65" model costs $3,499. The 77" model costs $6,999 and will ship in May 2019. LG is also shipping the higher-end OLEDE9 TVs - the 65" costs $4,299 while the 55" costs $3,299. You can still buy the LG's 2018 OLED TV lineup which includes the flagship Wallpaper OLEDW8 the high-end OLED-on-glass OLEDG8 and OLEDE8, the basic OLEDC8 and the entry level OLEDB8.
Sony's OLED TVs, based on the company's Android OS platform, are also very popular. Sony currently offers the high-end AF9 and AF8. Sony started shipping the AF8 TVs in April 2018 and - the 55" model currently costs $2,300 while the 65" one costs $3,000 (note: affiliate links to Amazon). In early 2019 Sony launched its new 2019 OLED TVs -
- The Master-Series A9G with its "consumer reference-quality image" (panel sizes 55, 65 and 77 inch)
- The A8G - which also offers high quality images and Sony's Acoustic Surface Audio
In August 2013, Samsung launched an OLED TV as well, the KN55S9C, that used Samsung's own OLED TV panels. Samsung stopped producing and marketing the S9C OLED TVs soon afterwards and is currently focused on quantum-dot enhanced LCDs. The company's next generation OLED TVs, however, will be based on the company's unique QD-OLED technology - but perhaps Micro-LED will be Samsung's future TV display technology of choice).
Direct Emission vs WRGB
The most straightforward OLED architecture uses 3 color OLED sub-pixels (Red, Green and Blue) to create each 'pixel'. This is referred to as a direct emission OLED, and is the design used in mobile OLED displays (for example those in Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Apple's iPhone X.
For its OLED TVs, however, LG Display is using a different architecture, called WRGB (or WOLED-CF) which uses four white OLED subpixels (each created by using both blue and yellow OLED emitters) with color filters on top (RBG and W). The WRGB technology (developed by Kodak and now owned by LG Display) was found to be easier to scale-up for large-area OLED production, although it suffers from lower efficiency and more complicated design.
Rollable and transparent OLED televisions
Like we said before, OLEDs can be made flexible, or transparent. Flexible OLEDs have been in production for a long time, and in 2019 LG will release the world's first rollable TV, its 65" Signature OLED TV R!
Both LG and Samsung also demonstrated large 55" transparent and mirror OLED prototypes, and LGD already demonstrated 77" rollable and transparent OLED panels, which it plans to commercialize by 2020. While the market demand for transparent OLEDs is not certain, this is an exciting technology that hopefully will reach the market in the future!
The latest OLED TV news:
LG Display originally planned to start producing OLED TV panels at its 8.5-Gen OLED fab in Guangzhou in October 2019, but LGD faced technical issues and production was delated to Q1 2020. Last month LGD said it finally fixed its technical issues and production will start by the end of January 2020 - but here we are at the middle of February and production hasn't started yet.
LGD's original plan was to ship over 6 million OLED TV panels in 2020 - which include the smaller 48" OLED TV panels launched at CES 2020. It seems certain now that LGD will not be able to meet its goals. IHS also reduced its 2020 OLED TV production forecast from 5 million units to 4.5 million.
LG Display reports better-than-expected Q4 2019 results, driven by a strong demand to OLED TVs and smartphone OLEDs
LG Display posted its financial results for Q4 2019, with a lower-than-expected loss of $361.6 million and revenues of $5.4 billion - a 10% increase over last quarter, driven by a rise in sales of OLED TVs and smartphone OLEDs.
LGD has given an optimistic forecast for 2020 as it sees higher demand for its OLED TV and mobile P-OLED panels. LGD expects its OLED TV panel revenue to "rise steeply" as its Guangzhou OLED TV fab increases its production - LGD now says it expects the fab to start mass production in March 2020.
Philips recently announced its latest OLED TVs, the OLED 805, and the company is apparently worried about burn-in issues, and it is developing software technology to mitigate such issues - specifically the problem with network logos.
Pocket-lint reports that it has seen Philips' new technology being demonstrated. Philips' algorithm recognizes these logos, and reduces the brightness of the pixels that display the logo. This extends the lifetime of these pixels and should keep them at the same level as other pixels that do not display constant logos.
According to a report from Korea, Japan's Sharp will start offering OLED TVs in Japan, based on LGD's WOLED panels. Sharp's first OLED TVs will launch by the end of 2020.
According to the ETNews, in Q3 2019 Sharp was the leading TV vendor in Japan - and as the company starts to adopt OLED panels for its premium TVs this could be good news for LG Display and the OLED market in general.
LG Display managed to fix its yield issues in the Guangzhou fab, will begin mass production by end of January 2020
On August 2019 LG Display announced that it started producing OLED TV panels at its 8.5-Gen OLED fab in Guangzhou, China. But later it was reported that LGD faced technical issues and production did not begin as planned in October 2019 - and LGD delayed production to Q1 2020.
According to a new report from Korea, LGD finally fixed its technical issues and managed to optimize the yields at the new fab. Mass production will begin in Guangzhou by the end of this month.
In November 2018 HiSense launched its first OLED TV range, the Series X and later in Europe. According to reports, demand for HiSense's OLEDs were lower-than-expected, at least in Australia. In 2019 the company also unveiled its dual-LCD (ULED-XD) technology that achieves a very high contrast ratio.
According to PC Magazine, HiSense decided to retire its OLED line of TVs, and instead adopt ULED-XD technology to compete in the high-end segment.
Chinese TV maker Skyworth demonstrated a transparent OLED TV prototype at CES 2020. Interestingly the TV offers a special "translucent" mode, as you can see in the video:
Skyworth is likely to be using LG's 55" transparent OLED panels. LG started to produce commercial transparent OLED TV panels in early 2019.
According to reports, Philips will bring its OLED 804 TVs to the US. The 804 Series uses LG's 55" and 65" WRGB OLEDs and feature Philips' 3-gen P5 Perfect Picture Engine, Ambilight on three sides, HLG and HDR10+ and Dolby Vision (maximum brightness is 1,000 nits).
The Philips 804 OLED TV is based on Android OS (v9) with built-in Google Assistant and a certified as "Works with Alexa". Philips also offers the OLED 854 which is the same TV but with a T-bar stand instead of the 804's slim metal feet.
TCL and Juhua Printing demonstrated a 31" FHD inkjet-printed rollable hybrid QD-OLED TV prototype. The display uses an IGZO (Oxide-TFT) backplane and TCL says that it has an aperture ratio of over 50%, brightness of 200 nits and a 90% DCI-P3 color gamut.
TCL's hybrid display technology (which TCL calls H-QLED) uses a blue OLED emitter coupled with red and green QD emitters. All three emitter materials are combined and printed using ink-jet printing technology.
Digital Trends published this nice video that shows LG's OLED booth at CES 2020, which shows LG's newest OLED TV technologies - including the 8K TVs, the Gallery OLED TVs and the rollable TV prototypes and products on display: