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

The South Korean government may block LG's 8.5-Gen OLED TV line in Guangzhou

Sep 20, 2017

In July 2017 LG Display announced that it has decided to build a 8.5-Gen (2200x2500) OLED line in Guangzhou, China, to make OLED TV panels. this is the first time a Korean company plans to produce OLEDs outside of Korea, and the Korean government is not happy with this plan as it sees OLED as a strategic technology Korea' economy.

LG 2016 OLED TV lineup

According to reports from Korea, The Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy of South Korea organized a special committee to discuss whether to allow LGD to built its Guangzhou fab. This is the first time that a special committee was formed in Korea for such a matter.

Changhong demonstrates a wallpaper style OLED TV at IFA 2017

Sep 06, 2017

Chinese TV maker Changhong demonstrated a new wallpaper-style OLED TV at IFA 2017. The TV prototype supports 4K resolution and HDR.

Changhong actually has a model name for the 65" TV, 65Q5AZH. The company did not yet reveal this an an actual product nor give any launch estimates, but it did say it will also have a 55" model.

OLED for VR and AR Market Report

Panasonic demonstrate a 55" 4K transparent OLED TV prototype

Sep 04, 2017

Panasonic is demonstrating a new transparent 4K OLED TV prototype at the IFA 2017 exhibition. Panasonic did not reveal any commercialization plans or any technical details on this prototype.

Last year at IFA Panasonic demonstrated a new transparent display, showing several use cases for this technology - in wine refrigerators, in living room cabinets and more. Back then I wondered whether it was an OLED as reported - but now Panasonic specifically says this is an OLED panel. The 2016 prototype had an FHD resolution, so this year is certainly an improvement.

LG Electronics offering heavy discounts on its premium OLED TVs in Korea

Sep 04, 2017

LG Electronics is offering discounts on its OLED TVs in Korea, with aims to increase its OLED TV sales. Discounts range from $875 to almost $1,500. LG says it hopes more users will be able to enjoy LG's high-end OLEDs, and the discounts will be available till the end of September.

LG OLEDG7 photo

Most reports suggest that LGD cannot keep up with demand for its OLED TV panels. It may be that LGE initiated these discounts for its premium OLED TVs and not for its entry-level OLEDs and so this does not reflect on LGD's OLED TV sales but rather on LGE's sales mix.

Sony asks LGD to double its OLED TV panel supply following high demand for Sony's OLED TVs

Aug 30, 2017

According to Business Korea, Sony is enjoying "explosive" demand for its OLED TVs since the beginning of Q2 2017, and the Japanese TV maker has reached out to LGD asking to double OLED TV shipments.

Sony will receive a total of 300,000 OLED TV panels from LGD in 2017, and it aims to order more than 600,000 panels per year starting in 2019 (once LGD can increase its OLED TV capacity). The Korean report suggested that Sony may assist LGD with an investment to secure the capacity.

UBI sees small growth of mobile OLED shipments in Q2 2017, fast growth in OLED TV panels

Aug 30, 2017

UBI Research estimates smartphone OLED display shipments reached 95.3 million units in Q2 2017, up 2.6% from last year (92.9 million Q2 2016) while TV panel shipments grew 165% to reach 370,000 units.

Smartphone OLED shipments (2Q16 - 2Q17, UBI)

Compared to last quarter (Q1 2017), smartphone shipments grew 0.6%. Samsung Display is still the clear market leader - with a market share of 96.7%. OLED TV panel shipments increased 21.2% from Q1 2017, and UBI expects this market to continue growing gradually throughout 2017.

IHS and DSCC seem to disagree on the future of QLED-LCD TVs

Aug 26, 2017

According to IHS, sales of quantum-dot enhanced LCD TVs, or QLED TVs, dropped 48% in Q2 2017 compared to Q1 2017. Total sales in Q2 amounted to only 351,000 units - down from 671,000 in Q1 2017. OLED TV sales, meanwhile, increased from 29% from 212,000 units to 282,000 units.

Following this report, Business Korea speculates that Samsung Electronics may have to change its premium TV strategy, as it faces market share lose in this very important segment and may lose its leading position in the total TV market.

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 see the light of day. Nothing in this photo proves that this is an OLED, or whether it is indeed 60" in size.

Kyulux - Hyperfluoresence OLED emittersKyulux - Hyperfluoresence OLED emitters