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

Sharp to develop OLED TV panels in its upcoming Osaka OLED fab

Jun 22, 2017

In October 2016 Sharp announced that it will invest $570 million and build OLED pilot lines at its plants in Osaka and in the Mie Prefecture. The pilot lines will begin OLED production in the summer of 2018.

It was always assumed that Sharp will focus on small and medium sized OLED panels with hopes to join Samsung and become an OLED supplier for Apple's iPhones and iPads. Today, however, Sharp announced that in the Osaka plant it will also develop large-area OLED TV panels.

LGD developed a 77" flexible and transparent OLED display

Jun 22, 2017

LG Display announced that it has developed a 77" flexible and transparent OLED display. The display features a resolution of 4K/UHD (3840 x 2160), a 80 mm radius of curvature and 40% transparency.

LG 77'' flexible and transparent OLED smart desk

LG Display demonstrated two possible applications for this display - above you can see the "smart desk" demonstration, and below you can see a commercial retail demonstration. It is not clear from the press release, but it seems that LGD plans to commercialize such a display in the future.

Transparent OLEDs Market Report

LGD confirms that its P10 plant in Paju will be exclusively used to make OLED displays

Jun 22, 2017

Towards the end of 2015 LG Display announced that it plans to build a new OLED fab (P10) in Paju in a $8.7 billion investment to produce both mid-sized flexible OLED and large-sized OLED TV panels. In May 2017 it was reported that LG decided to produce LCD panels rather than OLED panels in its upcoming fab.

LG Display P10 construction photo

According to Business Korea, LGD has confirmed that the P10 plant will indeed be used to produce only OLED displays - and will vote on this decision next week. The P10 fab will be used to make OLED TV panels in addition to small and medium sized flexible OLEDs. LGD has yet to decide exactly how to split the production capacity between large-area and small-area displays.

BOE to use Kateeva's inkjet printed to establish a pilot OLED TV production line in Hefei

Jun 08, 2017

In February 2017 BOE Display announced that will establish a new R&D OLED TV production line in Hefei. According to Digitimes, BOE Display is intending to use an inkjet printing process in this line, and the company already placed an order for an inkjet deposition system from Kateeva last month. BOE will use the systems to produce 55" OLED TVs.

BOE 55'' UHD panel prototypes (Nov 2016)

In February BOE announced that the new line will cost 1 billion CNY (around $145 million USD). BOE will invest 80% of the funds, with the rest provided by the Hefei government. Digitimes now states that the new line will only cost 600 million CNY - so it may be that the inkjet printing line is an addition to the 1 billion CNY line (which in that case, will probably be based on an evaporation process).

LG lowers the price of most of its 2017 OLED TVs

May 31, 2017

LG Electronics just lowered the price of most of its newest OLED TVs. The price of its signature OLEDG7 TVs was slashed by $1,000 - so the price for the 65" model now costs $5,999. The price of LG's high-end OLEDE7 TVs were also reduced by $1,000 - the current prices are $3,999 for the 55" model and $4,999 for the 65" model.

LG OLEDE7 photo

The prices of LG's entry-level OLEDC7 TV were also reduced. The 55" model now costs $2,799 (down from $2,999) while the 65" one costs $3,997 (down from $4,499). It seems that the prices of LG's other OLED TVs did not change.

UBI says 99.1 million AMOLEDs were shipped in Q1 2017

May 29, 2017

UBI Research says that AMOLED revenues reached $4.31 billion in Q1 2017, up 15% from Q1 2016. In terms of units sold, UBI says that 99.1 million AMOLED panels were shipped - up 9% from Q1 2016. Obviously this means that average price per panel is up - probably because most of the growth came from higher-end flexible AMOLED displays and larger OLED TV panels.

AMOLED sales forecast (2017-2020, UBI Research)

Looking forward, UBI says that in the next quarters over 100 million AMOLED panels will ship - and over 300,000 OLED TV panels. The total AMOLED maket will grow at a CAGR of 33% - and reach $59.3 billion in 2020.

Loewe starts shipping its 77" Bild7.77 OLED TV for $16,700 in Europe

May 23, 2017

Loewe started shipping the 77" model of its first OLED series, the Bild 7. The price of this large OLED TV is €15,000 (or about $16,700). The 55" model costs €4,990 while the 65" model is available for €6,990.

Loewe Bild 7 photo

The Bild 7 use flat-panel 4K OLED panels (produced by LG Display) and feature Loewe's own image processing software (VantaVision) and a slim and powerful soundbar (that is revealed only when the TV is on, as the panel automatically slides upwards when activated). The Bild 7 is 7 mm thick and was designed to look good even from behind (with fabric concealing the connector and cables) so to enable all installation options. The TV is delivered with a wall bracket and Loewe also offers a range of specially-designed stands.

IHS: OLED TV shipments to reach 10 million 2023, but growth will decelerate

May 19, 2017

IHS says that OLED TV shipments will reach 10 million units in 2023, up from about 1.5 million in 2017. The OLED TV market will grow at a CAGR of 42% from 2017, but the growth will decelerate as can be seen in the chart below.

AMOLED TV shipments forecast (2015-2023, IHS)

The high costs of producing OLED TV panels will remain a challenge and will be the main reason why production of OLED TV panels won't accelerate in the near future. Producers are looking into ink-jet printing as a way to lower production costs but the soluble emitting materials are still under performing and also the production yields are still low. IHS says that OLED makers are aiming to start mass printing OLED TV panels by 2019.

LG launches its 77" Wallpaper OLEDW7 TV in Korea for $30,000

May 18, 2017

LG Electronics launched its 77" Signature OLEDW7 Wallpaper TV in Korea, with a price tag of 33 million Won (almost $30,000, although there's a 4 million Won discount if you order before the end of June). LG aims to gradually release its flagship TV globally in the coming months.

LG 77'' OLEDW7 Korea launch event

LG's OLED W7 is the company's top-of-the-line OLED TV for 2017. The TV is extremely thin (2.57 mm all the way) and attaches to the wall using magnets. A thin cable on the bottom connects to the sound bar. Other features include a 4K resolution, HDR support (to four different standards), WebOS 3.5 and Dolby Atmos sound. The 65" model is now shipping for around $8,000.

Sony BRAVIA OLED TV – Experience a whole new world

May 01, 2017

Sony recently started shipping its first OLED TV, the XBR-A1E, and the company now launched a new ad campaign, with the title "Experience a whole new world". In the description of the video you can see below, Sony says that OLEDs are the future of TV, with extraordinary contrast, deep blacks and life-like color - coupled with a cutting-edge product design".

I'm not sure if an OLED really replaces the experience of seeing the earth from the moon, but there you have it. Sony's XGR-A1E costs the $3,999 for the 55" model and $5,499 for the 65" one.

The 2nd International TADF workshop, July 2017, Kyushu, JapanThe 2nd International TADF workshop, July 2017, Kyushu, Japan