Article last updated on: Nov 23, 2017

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 (China's BOE is initiating small-scale production). LG Electronics has several OLED TV models on the market - ranging in size from 55" to 77". LG's latest range of OLED TVs all support 4K (UHD) resolution and HDR. Reviews of OLED TVs are terrific, and most experts and consumers agree that OLED TVs are the best TVs ever produced - with virtually perfect image quality.

LG Display also supplies panels to other companies - including Panasonic, Sony, Grundig, Philips, Metz, Loewe, Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and others. The following table shows some of the prominent 2017 OLED TVs available in the US:

Entry level 55"/65" ($1,999 / $2,799)
LG OLEDG7 photo
High end 65"/77" ($4,999 / $9,999)
Wallpaper 65"/77" ($7,999 / $30,000)

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 (and 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. Both LG and Samsung 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. 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.

LGD 18'' rollable OLED prototype (CES 2016)
Samsung Display 55'' transparent OLED photo

Further reading

Latest OLED TV news

Skyworth to introduce AI chip powered OLED TVs in 2018 and utilize flexible OLEDs in new appliances

China-based Skyworth announced that it will introduce new AI-chip powered OLED TVs in 2018. The company says that these new chips will "leverage artificial intelligence to search, identify and refactor images as a means to accurately enhance image quality and restore the immersive aspect, delivering a more lifelike viewing experience".

Skyworth has been producing OLED TVs since 2014, when it introduced its first OLED TV, the Tianchi E980. Since then it released several such TVs, the latest one being the W9 'wallpaper' OLED TV introduced in 2017.

The OLED Marketplace, find your OLED here

Here is LGD's rollable 65" OLED TV prototype

LG Display is demonstrating its latest prototype at CES, a 65" rollable OLED TV that can roll inside its base when not in use. The video below shows this display in action, although we cannot see how the display actually rolls inside the box which is a shame:

Remember that this is still just a prototype display, and it's likely that LGD has no immediate plans to actually release such a display. Last year LGD said it plans to bring rollable OLED TVs to market by 2020.

HiSense to release its first OLED TV in H1 2018

HiSense (Australia) announced that it plans to introduce its first OLED TV in the first half of 2018. The company did not disclose any details beyond that announcement, though.

HiSense 2014 OLED TV prototype

Hisense has been demonstrating and promising OLED TVs for a long time (in 2014 the company demonstrated its first 55" OLED TV prototype, and in 2011 the company aimed to release a 15-inch OLED "TV"). But it's likely that now HiSense is indeed ready to release a real OLED TV to the market.

Samsung unveils its first Micro-LED TV, hoping to compete with LG's OLEDs

Samsung unveiled its first Micro-LED TV at CES, aptly named "The Wall". This is a 146-inch tiled 4K display that is almost 8 times larger than a 55" TV in area. We don't have any technical details yet on this display, but according to reporters at CES you cannot see the seams of the individual tiles.

Samsung 146'' micro-LED TV, The Wall

Samsung says that this display will ship in 2018 - but it did not reveal the price or expected release date. It's also not clear whether you will be able to actually customize this display with smaller and/or larger sizes.

Panasonic announces its 2018 OLED TV range

Panasonic announced its new OLED TVs for 2018, the FZ800 and FZ950. Both TVs offer the same 55" and 65" 4K WRGB (LGD) OLED panels, and feature Panasonic's latest HCX processor, dynamic LUTs, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, Dynamic Scene Optimizer and extreme 2.5% calibration levels.

Panasonic FZ800 photo

The FZ800 comes with built-in speakers, while the FZ950 offers a Technics-branded 80 Watt Dynamic Blade soundbar.

LGD brings a rollable 65" OLED TV to CES 2018

LG Electronics is bringing its new OLED TV lineup to CES this week, and LG Display already said it will demonstrate a 88-inch 8K OLED panel at the trade show. However the most exciting display will probably be LGD's newest prototype - a 65" rollable OLED TV that comes with a base that holds the TV when it is rolled away.

LGD 65'' rollable OLED TV, CES 2018

This is a prototype display, and it's likely that LGD has no immediate plans to actually release such a display. Last year LGD did say it plans to bring rollable OLED TVs to market by 2020.

IHS: OLED TV shipments grew 130% from November 2016 to November 2017

According to IHS, global OLED TV shipments grew 130% from November 2016 to November 2017 to reach a new monthly record of 270,000 units. The falling prices of 55" 4K OLEDs bring them within budget of a greater number of holiday shoppers, says IHS.

Monthly OLED TV shipments (Nov 2016 - Nov 2017, IHS)

IHS estimates that in 2017 over 1.4 million OLED TVs were shipped. LG Electronics is the clear market leader with a 92% market share. The growth of 65" OLED TVs (157% year-over-yera) is greater than the growth of 55" OLEDs (123%).

CLSA: Samsung's OLED production will grow 26% in 2018 to reach 570 million units

CLSA estimates that in 2017 Samsung Display produced 450 million OLED displays, and this will grow 26% in 2018 to reach 570 million units. Samsung's current capacity for flexible OLEDs is about 330-385.

Oppo A79 photo

Looking at the OLED TV market, CLSA expects it to continue its fast growth. Global OLED TV shipments will grow to 2.7 million units in 2018 (up from 1.6 million in 2017). LG Display is said to shift its focus to larger panel production (65-inch and 77-inch) so this may effect the number of panels produced.

LG announces its 2018 OLED TV lineup, no big surprises there

LG Electronics announced its 2018 OLED TV lineup. The company updated all of its models, except the OLEDG7 which will not get a successor in 2018. All the TVs are based on new a9 "intelligent processor" that promises better color and fast smart TV (webOS) operations - except the entry-level B8 which uses a scaled-down version of the chip.

LG OLEDW8 photo

The OLEDW8 will be LG's flagship TV for this year, a wallpaper design OLED TV which attaches to the wall using magnets - with a thin cable that connects to the sound bar and interface box. Like all the rest of the TVs, the W8 will support Google's Assistant for natural language control, Dolby Atmos, HDR and 4K HFR (120Hz).