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:
Korea-based OLED materials maker Solus Advanced Materials (previously Doosan Solus) announced that the company will start supplying HTL materials for LG Display, for its E3 line in Paju, used to produce OLED TVs.
According to reports from Korea, up until now Merck was LGD's sole HTL supplier (for large-area WOLED production), and Solus will now replace some of the HTL materials previously supplied by Merck. Solus hopes to expand shipments to LGD and supply HTL materials for LGD's other large-area WOLED fabs.
UBI Research says that the market for medium to large OLED displays (10-inch and up, used in IT and TV applications) has risen 156% in Q1 2021 compared the Q1 2020. Total sales reached $1.45 billion in the quarter.
Most of the growth comes from TV and laptop displays. LG Display produced 1.6 million OLED TV panels in the quarter, while sales for laptops reached 1.1 million panels. TV panels accounted for the majority of sales (as average panel price is much higher) - 81.6% of the market.
LG Display says that OLED TV production is more environmentally friendly than LCD TV production. A 65-inch LCD requires around 5.2 Kg of plastic, while a similarly-sized OLED uses only 0.43 Kg of plastics.
LG Display says that in Q1 2021 alone its plastic consumption was lower by 71,550 tons compared to what it would have been if it produced LCD TVs instead of OLED TVs.
LG Display's current production capacity at its 8.5-Gen OLED TV line in Guangzhou is 60,000 monthly substrates. According to a new report from Korea, the company is now expanding the capacity to 90,000 monthly substrates.
The expansion project will be ready by July 2021. In fact the company planned this expansion many years ago, and most of the equipment has already been planned to handle the extra capacity and LG managed to shorten the production time for each substrate (Takt time).
Omdia estimates that over 22,000 units of large-area (at least 80-inch) OLED TVs will ship in 2021, up from 900 units in 2020. OLED TVs ranging from 70- to 79-inch will also hit a record sales volume of 325,700 units, up 70% from 2020 (which saw a 245% increase in 70- to 79-inch OLED sales).
According to Omdia, in 2020 sales of 60- to 69-inch OLED TVs exceeded that of 50- to 59-inch ones for the first time, and in 2021 Omdia expects this trend to continue and even expand.
DSCC: Inkjet printing of emitters and color conversion layers for OLED displays to reach 7.1 million sqm by 2025
DSCC says that inkjet printing technologies for OLED display production is finally starting to gain traction, and the company sees IJP OLED display capacity to increase in a 137% CAGR from 2020 to 2025, to reach 7.1 million sqm.
As you can see from the chart, most of the growth will come from the printing of the quantum-dots color conversion layers in Samsung's QD-OLED fabs. Actual RGB inkjet printing will be confined to JOLED's fab which will start mass producing in 2021. In 2024, China Star (CSoT) will begin printing OLED TV panels at its T8 line.
LG Display announced its financial results for Q1 2021. The company reported sales of $6.2 billion, an operating income of $469.5 million and net profit of $238 million. Sales were lower (by 8%) compared to Q4 2020, but higher by 46% from Q4 2020. LGD remained profitable for the third consecutive quarter.
LG Display announced its financial results for Q1 2021. The company reported sales of $6.2 billow, an operating income of $469.5 million and net profit of $238 million. Sales were lower (by 8%) compared to Q4 2020, but higher by 46% from Q4 2020. LGD remained profitable for the third consecutive quarter.
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.