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:
Hyundai unveiled a new Ioniq EV concept cabin, which includes several new technology. The new cabin design was made in collaboration with LG Electronics, and includes a 77-inch curved OLED display on the ceiling.
The new cabin also includes other innovative technologies, such as automatic shoe cleaning and cloth cleaning - and even includes a floor cleaning robot.
In October 2019 Samsung Display formally announced its decision to invest $10.85 billion in QD-OLED TV R&D and production lines. The company is already starting to produce prototypes, and is on track to start mass production in Q3 2021.
But SDC is facing a problem it probably did not anticipate - Samsung Electronics is hesitant about the adoption of QD-OLED panels, and may not ship QD-OLEDs in 2021 - or maybe even at all. Apparently Samsung Electronics wants to focus on microLEDs for next-generation displays as it finds QD-OLED TVs to be not bright enough - and also because it suffers from burn-in issues.
LG Display announced that its OLED TV panels have received an Accurate Picture Quality certification from Intertek, an assurance, inspection, product testing, and certification company.
LGD explains that Intertek's Accurate Picture Quality is tested in three categories: Delta Zero Color Fidelity, Black Luminance, and Viewing Angle Color Shift. LGD's OLEDs recorded perfect black level and in the Delta Zero Color Fidelity test, the results are similar to the level of professional "reference monitors".
According to reports from Korea, LG Electronics is seeing high demand for its 48-inch 4K CX OLED TVs - likely thanks to a high demand for stay-at-home entertainment during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
LG introduced the 48-inch OLED TV model in Korea towards the end of July, and pre-orders sold out "in one minute". In some countries in Europe, the model has gone out of stock in just one week after the launch. Apparently there's high demand from gamers who are looking for a high-quality mid-size gaming monitors. In the US, the 48-inch OLED CX is priced at $1,500 - and it out of stock at Amazon.com.
Xiaomi announced what could be the world's first mass-produced transparent TV for the consumer market, the Xiaomi Mi TV LUX Transparent Edition that features a 55" 120Hz WOLED TV panel.
The Mi TV LUX uses Xiaomi's AI Master Smart Engine built around a MediaTek 9650 TV chip, and has support for Dloby Atmos. The Mi TV Lux will start shipping on August 16 in China for 49,999 yuan (around $7,200).
In December 2019 BOE unveiled a 55" 8K (160 PPI) OLED TV prototype produced by inkjet printing. The panel achieves a maximum brightness of 400 nits and a color gamut of 95% DCI-P3.
At SID Displayweek 2020, the company demonstrated this display and gave more details regarding its production process and display structure.
DSCC updated its OLED material market forecasts, seeing a lower growth ahead. DSCC says the AMOLED stack material market will grow from $928 million in 2019 to $2.06 billion in 2024 in a CAGR of 17%. Only a couple of months ago DSCC estimated that the market in 2024 will reach $2.69 billion - and even these were reduced from earlier estimates due to COVID-19.
DSCC says that the main reason behind the reduction in its forecast is lower OLED TV capacity. The company now expects a slower ramp up at the Guangzhou fab, and LG's P-10 10.5-Gen fab is now removed from the forecast period.
LGD opens a new OLED showroom, looks to collaborate with other industries to accelerate OLED adoption
LG Display announced that it is aiming to strike strategic cooperations with companies from industries such as the construction, furniture, and interior design, with an aim to find new application for next-generation OLED displays.
LGD opened a new OLED showroom at LG's Science Park in Magok which allows people to experience different OLED products - including transparent and mirror displays, wallpaper displays and "variable TVs" (not sure what is meant by that, perhaps it is a reference to LG's rollable OLED technology). LGD also released the video you see above showing several "virtual" OLED display demonstrations
LG Display reported its financial results for Q2 2020 - with revenues up 12% over last quarter, as the company enjoyed an increase in demand for IT panels (monitors, notebooks, tablets). But lower demand for TVs and lower utilization at its POLED fabs increased LGD's operating loss.
LG Display says it expects its Q3 revenues and operation profit to improve - as mass production of OLED TV panels in Guangzhou finally started, and the company will ship pOLED panels to Apple's iPhone 12 in the next quarter. LG maintains its 4.5-5 million OLED TV panel shipment forecast for the whole of 2020.
LG Display's original plan was to start producing OLED TV panels at its 8.5-Gen OLED fab in Guangzhou in October 2019, but following some technical issues, production was pushed back, several times.
Yesterday LGD announced that it has finally started mass production of its Guangzhou fab. The capacity of the Guangzhou fab is 60,000 substrates per month, which will almost double LGD's total OLED TV capacity to 130,000 substrates per month.LGD also plans to expand the Guangzhou fab to 90,000 monthly substrates in the future. The plant will be used to produce 48-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, and 77-inch panels, and 48-inch OLED TVs will shortly start to ship.