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:
US-based aircraft cabin technology developers DPI Labs announced that its 4K OLED displays for business and VVIP aircraft cabins are now available. In fact the company completed the first installation of its OLED displays (55-inch and 65-inch) on a VVIP Boeing 767 in January 2021.
This first OLED installation included a complete DPI cabin management system consisting of passenger and cabin crew control panels, audio/video distribution, cabin control modules and DPI’s multi-colored LED cabin lighting.
TCL said in a recent press conference that the company plans to start producing OLED TV panels in 2023. These OLED panels will be printed using an inkjet printing process.
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. In 2020 TCL invested $187 million USD in Japan's inkjet printing developer and producer JOLED, and has also signed an agreement to jointly develop OLED TV printing technologies.
According to an interesting report from Korea, Samsung Electronics is discussing a potential supply agreement with LG Display for WOLED TV panels. Samsung is aiming, according to the report, to buy 1 million OLED TV panels in 2021, and 4 million (around 50% of LGD's capacity!) in 2022.
This development, if true, may have a major impact on the industry, and may spur LGD (and other OLED makers) to accelerate OLED TV production and capacity expansion plans.
As LG Electronics is launching its 65" rollable TV (65RX OLED) globally, market researchers from Omdia estimate that shipments of rollable TVs will be around 3,000 next year. The market will grow to 74,000 units in 2024 and 672,000 units in 2027.
This is fast growth, but numbers will still be very limited, it seems as Omdia does not expect mass market adoption for rollable TVs.
In 2019 Samsung Display formally announced its decision to invest $10.85 billion in QD-OLED TV R&D and production lines. It was reported before that SDC is started to produce panel prototypes, and is on track to start mass production in Q3 2021.
According to a new report from Korea, SDC is set to begin producing full module prototypes in June this year. In addition SDC had to increase the brightness of its panels as TV makers said it is not enough for premium TV adoption. SDC will produce both TV and monitor prototypes, which it will send to potential customers (such as Samsung Electronics, Sony, and Chinese TV makers). When customers approve the prototypes, SDC will be ready for commercial production.
China-based TV maker Skyworth announced two exciting new OLED TVs. First up is the the Skyworth W82, which is the world's first bendable TV, that can change from a flat screen to a curved one (with a curvature radius of 1000R), which Skyworth says is suitable especially for gamers.
The W82 sports a 65-inch 120Hz WOLED TV panel 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).
A few days ago we reported that LG Electronics is getting ready to launch its 65" rollable OLED TV, the 65RX OLED TV globally. And now the rollable TV is available to pre-order in the UK. The price is £99,999 - or around $137,000. This is higher than the price is Korea, which is around $87,000. If LG manages to find customers, it will ship the TV form Korea.
LG started shipping the TV in Korea in October 2020. Last month it was reported that LG sold only 10 units.
LG Display announced that its OLED TV panels obtained a 'Discomfort Glare Free' verification from UL, a leading global safety science company. LGD says that this is the first display ever to be recognized as a display that emits no glare.
UL’s testing is based on the Unified Glare Rating (UGR), a glare assessment recognized by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE). The verification mark is issued only when the UGR is 22 or less when watching TV between 70 lux (lx), which is about the brightness of a bedroom floor lamp, and 300 lux (lx), which is equivalent to the light from a bright window.
DSCC sees a low utilization rate at flexible OLED lines in H1 2020, high utilization at rigid OLED lines
DSCC says that flexible OLED fab utilization has been low since the beginning of 2021, and this will remain so for the next quarter as well. Utilization at rigid OLED lines is higher. This has been the pattern in previous years - lower production in the first half of the year and higher volumes at the second half of the year.
LG's OLED TV fab utilization has been historically very high (and close to 100%) - until 2020 which have seen lower utilization due the ramp-up at the Guangzhou fab. But in 2021 LG has managed to increase its yields again.