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 announced that its OLED TV displays have been recognized for maximum eye comfort by leading global independent inspection service TÜV Rheinland of Germany and UL, a leading global safety science company.
LG Display's OLEDs were recognized as "Eye Comfort Displays" - with a low blue light emission and a flicker-free operation. This is the first time in the industry that TV displays have received such certifications.
DSCC updated its capacity and demand outlook for the OLED industry. DSCC says that the oversupply situation for smartphone OLEDs will continue to effect the industry for years ahead.
According to DSCC the reason for the oversupply is Samsung's near-monopoly on flexible OLED phone panels - and the fact that the company keeps prices high and prefers high profit margins even though it leads to low utilization rates. DSCC sees China's capacity (which includes LG's Gunagzhou fab) share to rise from 5% in 2017 to 30% in 2020 and finally to 49% in 2025.
JOLED announced that TCL CSoT has invested 20 billion Yen (around $187 million USD) in the company, and has also signed an agreement to jointly develop OLED TV printing technologies.
This is a very interesting development. TCL has been a long time believer in inkjet printing for OLED displays, and the company has established Juhua Printing in 2016 (together with TianMa and other collaborators) as an "open-innovation platform" to develop ink-jet printing of OLED panels. JOLED was not involved as far as we know in this alliance - so has TCL given up on Juhua and is now aiming to rely on JOLED's technology?
LG Display's original plan was to start producing OLED TV panels at its 8.5-Gen OLED fab in Guangzhou in October 2019, but following some technical issues, production was pushed back, several times. The latest report suggested that production will only begin in Q3 2020 - due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and lower market demand.
Business Korea reports today that LGD finally started to produce panels in the Guangzhou fab - 48" OLED TV panels. It seems as if LGD has not achieved mass production yet, but some panels are already being produced. Mass production will begin, according to BK, later this month.
Bang and Olufsen announced a new flagship TV, at the top of its Beovision Harmony OLED TV range - a 88" 8K model, based on LGD's WOLED panels. The TV features a frame that includes a pop-up dual wood speaker mechanism that opens up when the TV is in use.
The 88" BeoVision Harmony costs $49,000. It joins the 2019 65" 4K model ($15,700) and 77" 4K model ($19,800).
LG Display's original plan was to start producing OLED TV panels at its 8.5-Gen OLED fab in Guangzhou in October 2019, but the company faced technical issues, pushed back production to the end of January 2020 - but fixing these issues took longer than expected.
The CoronaVirus outbreak caused LGD further delays, and mass production was again delayed to 'early' Q2 2020. The latest news from Korea suggests that now LGD has pushed back production in the Guangzhou fab to Q3 2020. The cause of these delays, is again yield issues, slow engineering work due to the Coronavirus isolation - and lower demand in the market (which seems to suggest that LGD is not in a rush to begin production).
Sony started shipping its 2020 OLED TV range, the Bravia A8H. The 55" model's price is $2,299 while the 65" one is $3,299 - the TVs are now available on Amazon.com.
The A8H series is based on Google's Android smart TV platform and features support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Homekit and Amazon Alexa. The A8H features Sony's Acoustic Surface and the company's X1 Ultimate picture processor, Pixel Contrast Booster and X-Motion Clarity. The A8H supports Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision standards.
UBI Research lowered its forecast for the OLED industry in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. UBI decreased its total market revenue forecast by 4.8% to $36.7 billion.
UBI now estimates that 612 million OLED panels will ship in 2020, down from its previous estimate of 660 million. The OLED TV market forecast was reduced dramatically from 4.9 million panels to 3.6 million.
According to reports from Korea, LG Display expects a decline of up to 10% in demand for OLED TV panels in Q2 2020, due to the CoronaVirus pandemic.
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. In its latest note, DSCC sees 4.5 million OLED TV panels being produced in 2020, while Omdia's forecast is for only 3.5 million TVs.
This article is an extract from The OLED Handbook, 2020 edition, and gives a short introduction to the current OLED TV market status. The latest edition of the OLED handbook was published in March 2020.
The OLED TV market is completely dominated today by LG Display, the only company that produces OLED TVs commercially. In 2013 both Samsung and LGD commenced production of OLED TVs, but Samsung quickly halted its OLED TV program to focus on Quantum-Dots enhanced TVs. In 2019 Samsung announced it is re-entering the OLED TV market and is set to build a QD-OLED production fab (more on this below).
LG Display adopted Kodak’s WRGB OLED technology (now owned by LG’s own GOT) and this technology, combined with oxide-TFT (IGZO) backplanes, enabled the company to economically scale up its large-area panel production. LG Display is producing 48” to 88” OLED TV panels, and is supplying its panels to several TV makers, including LGE, Sony, Panasonic, Philips and more.