What is an OLED TV?

An OLED TV screen uses a new display technology called OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). OLED technology enables displays that are brighter, more efficient, thinner and feature better refresh rates and contrast than either LCD or Plasma displays. Simply put, OLED TVs deliver the best picture quality ever!

LG EG9600 photo

OLED TV technology

OLED displays are made by placing thin films of organic (carbon based) materials between two conductors. When electrical current is applied, light is emitted. OLED displays are emissive and unlike LCDs, do not require a backlight (unlike LCDs). OLED TV panels offers several advantages over LCDs:

  • Faster refresh rate, better contrast (true blacks) and better color reproduction
  • Better form factor - OLED enables much thinner panels
  • Better viewing angle - almost 180 degrees
  • Efficiency - in an OLED display, only the lit pixels draw power, unlike in an LCD.)
  • OLED panels can potentially be made flexible and/or transparent - think rollable TVs!

OLED TVs on the market - what can you buy today?

As of 2017, only LG Display produces commercial OLED TV panels (although China's BOE is also entering production). 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. Following is a table of LG's 2016 models (LG's 2017 OLEDTV models are just entering the market now as well)

LG OLED65B6P photo
B6 flat 55/65" ($2,497 / $3,499)
LG OLED65C6P photo
C6 curved 55/65" ($2,497 / $3,499)
LG OLED65E6P photo
E6 flat high-end 55/65" ($3,499 / $4,999)
LG OLED77G6P photo
G6 premium 65/77" TVs ($7,999 / $19,999)

In early 2017 LG launched its 2017 OLED TV models, which are all updates to the 2016 ones. LG also launched it's new flag ship TV - the Wallpaper Signature OLEDW7. These extremely thin TVs (2.57 mm all the way) attach to the wall using magnets.



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

Sony's XBR-A1E, launched in early 2017, is the company's first OLED TV - well, besides the experimental 2008 11" XEL-1. Sony's OLED TV features a flat 4K panel, HDR, Dolby and Android TV. Sony's TV uses a built-in speaker which is part of the stand behind the TV to create a stand-less form factor. Sony will offer the TVs at 55", 65" or 77".

Sony A1E OLED TV photo

Panasonic also launched several OLED TVs of its own (all using LGD's panels). The EZ1000 OLED TVs offer professional features in a consumer OLED TVs with several image enhancement technologies.

Panasonic EZ950 photo

In August 2013, Samsung launched an OLED TV as well, the KN55S9C. Samsung stopped producing and marketing the S9C OLED TVs soon afterwards and is currently focused on quantum-dot enhanced LCDs. Some reports suggest that Samsung does plan to start producing OLED TVs in the near future, but the company itself says it has no plans to do so in the near future.

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, and is the design used in mobile OLED displays (for example those in Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and Apple's Watch).

For its OLED TVs, 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 (developed by Kodak and now owned by LG Display) is much easier to produce and scale-up, even though it has some technical disadvantages.

Rollable and transparent OLED televisions?

Like we said before, OLEDs can be made flexible, or transparent. LG is developing a 60" 4K rollable TV, for example, and both LG and Samsung demonstrated large 55" transparent and mirror OLED prototypes. These kinds of technologies are exciting - and while it will be some years before they reach the market, they could eventually redefine the TV of the future. The first such TVs to be commercialized are likely to be bendable OLED TVs, which were supposed to launch in 2016 but that did not happen yet.

LGD 18'' rollable OLED prototype (CES 2016)
Samsung Display 55'' transparent OLED photo

Further reading

Latest OLED TV news

Loewe starts shipping its 77" Bild7.77 OLED TV for $16,700 in Europe

May 23, 2017

Loewe started shipping the 77" model of its first OLED series, the Bild 7. The price of this large OLED TV is €15,000 (or about $16,700). The 55" model costs €4,990 while the 65" model is available for €6,990.

Loewe Bild 7 photo

The Bild 7 use flat-panel 4K OLED panels (produced by LG Display) and feature Loewe's own image processing software (VantaVision) and a slim and powerful soundbar (that is revealed only when the TV is on, as the panel automatically slides upwards when activated). The Bild 7 is 7 mm thick and was designed to look good even from behind (with fabric concealing the connector and cables) so to enable all installation options. The TV is delivered with a wall bracket and Loewe also offers a range of specially-designed stands.

IHS: OLED TV shipments to reach 10 million 2023, but growth will decelerate

May 19, 2017

IHS says that OLED TV shipments will reach 10 million units in 2023, up from about 1.5 million in 2017. The OLED TV market will grow at a CAGR of 42% from 2017, but the growth will decelerate as can be seen in the chart below.

AMOLED TV shipments forecast (2015-2023, IHS)

The high costs of producing OLED TV panels will remain a challenge and will be the main reason why production of OLED TV panels won't accelerate in the near future. Producers are looking into ink-jet printing as a way to lower production costs but the soluble emitting materials are still under performing and also the production yields are still low. IHS says that OLED makers are aiming to start mass printing OLED TV panels by 2019.

OLED Handbook

LG launches its 77" Wallpaper OLEDW7 TV in Korea for $30,000

May 18, 2017

LG Electronics launched its 77" Signature OLEDW7 Wallpaper TV in Korea, with a price tag of 33 million Won (almost $30,000, although there's a 4 million Won discount if you order before the end of June). LG aims to gradually release its flagship TV globally in the coming months.

LG 77'' OLEDW7 Korea launch event

LG's OLED W7 is the company's top-of-the-line OLED TV for 2017. The TV is extremely thin (2.57 mm all the way) and attaches to the wall using magnets. A thin cable on the bottom connects to the sound bar. Other features include a 4K resolution, HDR support (to four different standards), WebOS 3.5 and Dolby Atmos sound. The 65" model is now shipping for around $8,000.

Sony BRAVIA OLED TV – Experience a whole new world

May 01, 2017

Sony recently started shipping its first OLED TV, the XBR-A1E, and the company now launched a new ad campaign, with the title "Experience a whole new world". In the description of the video you can see below, Sony says that OLEDs are the future of TV, with extraordinary contrast, deep blacks and life-like color - coupled with a cutting-edge product design".

I'm not sure if an OLED really replaces the experience of seeing the earth from the moon, but there you have it. Sony's XGR-A1E costs the $3,999 for the 55" model and $5,499 for the 65" one.

Samsung rumored to acquire Micro-LED developer PlayNitride

Apr 30, 2017

According to an industry insider in Taiwan, Samsung is set to acquire Taiwan's PlayNitride for the company's micro-LED technology for around $150 million. Our inside says that Samsung aims to develop micro-LED based displays for VR applications, but may also look into micro-LED based TVs using PlayNitride's technology.

PlayNitride MicroLED array

Micro-LED is a promising display technology as it has the potential to enable brighter and more efficient displays compared to OLEDs. It also may be cheaper, but there are still technical challenges to overcome and analysts estimate that micro-LEDs will not be commercialized before 2020.

LG Display reports a record quarter, increases OLED investment

Apr 27, 2017

LG Display reported its financial results for Q1 2017 - with a record operating profit of just over $900 million as the selling price of its display panel increase.

LG Display says that the company is increasing its investment into OLEDs (going forward 70% of its capital expenditures will go to OLED production and R&D), and is also increasing production of OLED TV panels. The company is currently making about 300,000 OLED TV panels in a quarter, but this will be increased to 500,000 in the second half of 2017.

Sony starts rolling out its XBR-A1E OLED TVs sooner than expected - and cheaper too

Apr 16, 2017

Sony launched its first OLED TV, the XBR-A1E, in January 2017, and the company now started shipping its TV in Europe and in the US (the 65" model only). The prices (at least on Amazon.com) are $1,000 cheaper than Sony first announced - the 55" model costs $3,999 while the 65" model costs $5,499. The 77" is not shipping or priced yet.

Sony's A1E features a flat 4K OLED (LGD WRGB) panel, Android TV platform, HDR (both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR) and a built-in speaker which is part of the stand behind the TV to create a stand-less form factor.

Skyworth unveils its own Wallpaper OLED TV

Apr 14, 2017

Skyworth has been producing OLED TVs since 2014, and the China-based TV maker has now unveiled its latest two OLED TVs, the S9E and the Wallpaper OLED TV. The Wallpaper one resembles LG's Wallpaper OLEDW7 TVs and also use a design that enables hanging the 3.6 mm screen on the wall and connecting the input box via a cable.

Skyworth Wallpaper OLED TV photo

Skyworth's Wallpaper OLED TV will cost ¥99,999 ($14,500) for the 65" model - which is almost double than LG's OLEDW7 ($7,999)!

LG Display expects 50% of its revenue to come from OLED displays by 2020

Apr 08, 2017

LG Display's CTO says that the company current generates about 10% of its revenues from OLED displays, but it expects OLED's share to reach 50% by 2020.

LG 2017 OLED TV lineup photo

Currently almost all of LGD's OLED revenues come from OLED TV panels. LGD managed to reach production yields of 80% in two years, while this took 10 years to reach the same yields in LCD production. The price decline rate of OLEDs have been faster than that of LCDs - which makes LGD optimistic it will be able to increase production and profits going forward. OLEDs of course also have other advantages of LED LCDs, including the possibility of a flexible design.

LG's Wall of the Sun is the world's largest OLED lighting installation ever with 30,000 panels

Apr 07, 2017

LG Display has put on an ambitious OLED lighting display at Euroluce which is a part of the Milan Design Week. LG actually has two booths, with the first one designed by Tokujin Yoshioka. Tokujin's installation is called Wall of the Sun, and it uses 30,000 of LGD's OLED lighting panels installed on the wall.

Wall of the sun closeup, LG OLED installation by Tokujin Yoshioka (2017)

This makes this installation the world's largest ever OLED lighting installation, which is double in size compared to Konica Minolta's OLED Tulip installation from 2015. This seems to be a very impressive display. The 15 chairs scattered on the floor, by the way, are embedded with LGD's OLED TV panels.

The 2nd International TADF workshop, July 2017, Kyushu, JapanThe 2nd International TADF workshop, July 2017, Kyushu, Japan