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:
LG announced that it is starting to ship its 88" 8K flagship OLED Z9 TV in the US, with a price of $29,999. The OLED88Z9 is based on LG's 2nd-gen Alpha 9 intelligent processor the enables LG's ThinQ AI to offer new display algorithms and Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant.
The Signature OLED Z9 features HDMI 2.1 which enables high frame rate (HFR) support, enhanced audio return channel (eARC), variable refresh rate (VRR) and automatic low latency mode (ALLM). LG's flagship OLED also feature Dolby Atmos for immersive entertainment.
In early 2019 LG Electronics announced the world's first rollable OLED TV, the 65" Signature OLED TV R. The company later announced that it will ship the TV in the second half of 2019, but now LG is delaying the launch of its signature rollable OLED TV.
LG says that the OLED TV R will ship in Korea in "2019 or 2020", but that consumers elsewhere will have to wait longer - which probably means it does not have any plans to release it before 2021. According to TechRadar, the main reason is that LG is highly expensive and LG fears that it will be difficult to find a market outside of Korea for such a premium TV.
Panasonic has been showing transparent OLED display prototypes and concepts since 2016, and in April 2019 the company unveiled its latest prototype - a wooden cabinet design:
At IFA 2019 Panasonic says that it aims to launch a transparent OLED display by next year as a commercial product. It is highly likely that this would be some kind of signage/commercial display.
A Federal Court in Australia ordered LG Electronics to pay a fine of $160,000 AUD to two consumers after LG refused to repair, replace or refund OLED TVs that exhibited burn in after less than a year of use.
Under the Australian law, consumers who purchased faulty products are entitled to a repair, refund or replacement - even if the warranty does not apply or has come to an end. The two OLED TVs were bought in 2013.
In January 2019 during CES Skyworth demonstrated a 88" 8K (7680x4320) OLED TV prototype, in addition to other OLED technologies. We have posted a photo of the Skyworth 88" OLED, but today this nice video from our friend Charbax was published that shows Skyoworth's CES booth, starting with the 88" OLED:
Philips announced its 2019/2020 TV range, with three OLED TVs at the top of its line. All of Philips' new OLED TVs support Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and all feature its Ambilight surround LED Lighting feature. All the TVs use LGD's WRGB OLED TV panels, of course.
Philips' entry-level 2019-2020 OLED TV is the OLED+754, which features a 55" or 65" panel and are based on the Saphi Smart TV platform which includes built-in Alexa support. The OLED+754 is now shipping in Europe, the price in the UK is £1,500 for the 55" model and £2,300 for the 65" model.
In early 2019 LG announced its first 88" 8K OLED TV panel, the OLED Z9, and the company now finally announced that it's flagship TV is coming to Europe and the US next month.
We do not know the price of the OLED Z9 in Europe or the US, but in Korea the price was set at around $42,000 when LG launched the TV in July.
LG Display announced today that it started producing OLED TV panels at its 8.5-Gen OLED fab in Guangzhou, China. LG's new fab will have a monthly capacity of 60,000 substrates, which will be expanded to 90,000 by 2021.
LG says that by 2022, it will enable LGD to produce over 10 million OLED TV panels per year by 2022 - in its 8.5-gen fabs in Guangzhou and Paju, Korea (70,000 substrates per months) and its 10.5-Gen fab that it is now building in Paju. IHS expects LG to ship 5.5 million OLED TVs in 2020, 7.1 million in 2021 and over 10 million in 2022. In 2019 LG expects to ship 3.8 million units.
OLED Displays burn-in has always been an interesting topic, with some users and reviewers complaining about serious burn-in issues in some of their OLED TVs, while others report of no visible issues. UK based HDTVTest performed a comprehensive 6-month test on a brand new LG E8 OLED TV and found no sign of permanent burn-in.
HDTVTest says that they displayed varying content for 20 hours a day for more than 6 months (a total of over 3,700 hours). They also suggest to put the TV in standby mode rather than complete power-off so that the compensation cycles can run.
LG Electronics performed an interesting test comparing an OLED TV to an LCD LED TV to analyse the physical and emotional responses of viewers. The test was done on identical twins in the UK (Henry and William Wade), which viewed a Game of Thrones episode on LG's OLEDE9 TV and an 2013 LG LCD LED TV.
LG used Realeye's AI platform to analyse the facial expressions, head movements and body language of the twins, in addition to their hear rate. LG says that the test revealed that its OLED TV held 25% more attention than its 2013 TV, and that happiness was three times higher. The LG OLED TV provided a 15% more intense experience from a positive emotional standpoint.