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.

Samsung Display 55'' transparent OLED photo

Further reading

Latest OLED TV news

Chinese blog suggests Apple is developing an OLED TV, shows blurry photos as proof

Aug 16, 2017

Chinese blogging site Weibo shared some very blurry photos that seem to show a TV being tested by Apple in a special testing environment. The site claims that this photo shows a secret 60 OLED TV that Apple is developing.

Apple OLED TV leaked image (August 2017)

Obviously this can only be considered a rumor at best - and of course even if Apple is testing a product or a design, it does not mean it will be the light of day. Nothing in this photo proves that this is an OLED, or whether it is indeed 60" in size.

Dubai Mall installs the world's largest OLED display ever using 820 55" OLED TV panels

Aug 03, 2017

A shopping mall in Dubai, simply called the Dubai Mall, unveiled the world's largest OLED installation. The huge OLED screen uses 820 55" OLED panels (made by LG Display) to create a 50 x 14 meters display made from 1.7 billion pixels.

This is actually not only the world's largest OLED display, it is also the world's largest HD video wall and the highest-resolution one. The display is placed on top of a large aquarium tank and was installed by Emaar Entertainment.

OLED Handbook

LGD confirms it is in talks with strategic partners to fund its aggressive OLED expansion plans

Jul 27, 2017

A few days ago LG Display disclosed its financial results for Q2 2017 and announced a large OLED investment plan to increase capacity for both OLED TVs and small-sized flexible OLEDs.

LG 77'' OLEDW7 Korea launch event

During its investor conference call, LG Display disclosed that it plans to finance some of the capacity increase through strategic partnerships such as customer commitments. In the past months we heard reports that both Apple and Google are in talks with LGD regarding an investment to secure OLED capacity. It seems likely that LGD now verified these reports - but the investments are probably not finalized yet.

DSCC: OLED revenues to reach $21 billion in 2017, will rise to $46 billion in 2021

Jul 26, 2017

DSCC expects the OLED market to rapidly grow in the near future, as AMOLED production capacity will increase at a CAGR of 41% from 2016 (5.3 million square meters) to 2021 (29.4 million square meters). OLED revenues will reach $21 billion in 2017 (a rise of 46% compared to 2016) and will reach $46 billion in 2021.

ZTE Nubia M2 photo

Smartphones are still the largest OLED application by far - with a 86% market share (revenues) in 2017 and 81% in 2021. The second largest application by revenues are OLED TVs, and other applications follow with a small market share - but one that will increase as supply looses in the future. If we look at shipments, then smartphones acount for 94% of OLED shipments, and the 2nd and 3rd applications are VR headsets and smart watches. OLED TV shipments will reach 6.5 million in 2021 (rising at a CAGR of 49% from 2016 to 2021).

LGD announces $7 billion in new OLED investments: a 10.5-gen and 6-Gen lines in Paju and a 8.5-Gen line in Guangzhou

Jul 25, 2017

LG Display announced its results for Q2 107 - revenues increased 13% from 2016 to KRW6.63 trillion (around $6 billion USD) and net income reached KRW737 billion ($660 million USD). TV panels accounted for 46% of LGD's revenues, mobile devices 22% and desktop monitors and tablets and notebook displays accounted for the rest.

LG 2016 OLED TV lineup

In addition to the earning results, LGD detailed its investment path for OLEDs, as was decided in a recent board meeting. First of all, LGD decided to build a 10.5-Gen (2940x3370 mm) OLED line in its upcoming P10 fab in Paju. LGD will make an up-front investment of KRW2.8 trillion ($2.5 billion USD). The whole fab will require more investments but LGD says it is taking a prudent approach - it will only begin mass production of OLED TVs after stabilizing the technology for these extra large size substrates.

LG's OLED TV wins CE Week's annual TV shootout for the fourth time in a row

Jul 24, 2017

CE Week held its 13th annual TV shootout, and for the fourth times in a row, LG's OLED TV won. LG's OLEDE7 TV (65") won in all categories - and was crowned ‘King of TV’ in the Shootout.

LG OLEDE7 photo

For the first time ever the shootout included an OLED TV from another maker - Sony's A1E. The Sony TV came close to LG's OLED and won an honorary mention. LG's OLEDE7 TVs cost $3,500 for the 55" model and $4,800 for the 65" model. Sony's A1-E Bravia OLED TVs cost $3,999 (55"), $5,499 (65") and $19,999 (77").

LGD aims to produce rollable OLED TVs by 2020

Jul 07, 2017

Following LGD's recent demonstration of a 77" flexible and transparent OLED display, the company has now decided (according to Business Korea, anyway) to start producing rollable large-area (55 to 75 inch) OLED TVs in 2020.

LGD 18'' rollable OLED prototype (CES 2016)

LGD will produce these rollable TVs in its upcoming P10 OLED fab in Paju. The P10 is LGD's most ambitious OLED fab - with a price tag of over $8 billion, it is expected to commence production in 2018, although it will take some time before mass production begins. The P10 will exclusively be used to produce OLEDs - both OLED TV panels (9-Gen or 10-Gen substrates, it seems LG did not decide yet) and small/medium flexible OLEDs.

LG aims to adopt a blue TADF emitter in its 2018 OLED TV stack

Jul 06, 2017

Korean news site DDaily posted an interesting article that states that LG Display is looking to replace the fluorescent OLED emitter used in its OLED TVs with a blue TADF emitter.

LG OLEDC7 photo

Following the introduction into LG's OLED TV production process, LG hopes to also use TADF materials in its small and medium OLED production. The report is a bit confusing, but it seems that LGD also aims to use its WOLED display in small and medium display formats - even for VR applications.

IHS sees AMOLED shipments surging in 2017, fast growth throughout 2020

Jul 05, 2017

IHS says that AMOLED panel shipment will increase 63% in 2017, driven by strong demand from smartphone makers. Looking forward the AMOLED market will experience fast growth, as demand will rise for smartphones, TVs, VR HMDs and mobile PCs.

AMOLED shipment revenue forecast (2015-2021, IHS)

In 2017 the AMOLED market will reach $25.2 billion in revenues, up from about $15 billion in 2016. The OLED TV market will grow to 1.5 million units (up from from 890,000 units in 2016). Mobile display resolution continue to increase, and in 2017 68% of shipments will be of FHD, QHD and WQHD resolutions.

Digital Trends: LG's OLED TV outperforms Samsung's QLED

Jul 01, 2017

Digital Trends posted that interesting flagship TV shootout, pitching LG's E7 OLED TV against Samsung's Q9 QLED TV. Both TVs offer great image quality, and both has their strengths and weaknesses - but Digital Trends says at the end of the day they prefer LG's OLED.

According to Digital Trends, pretty much everybody who looked at these two TVs stacked up against each other chose the LG as the best TV - if by a razor-thin margin. Credit is due to Samsung, who did manage to produce a very bright, sharp and great looking TV though.

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