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:
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.
IHS Markit says that LG Electronics is the leading European premium TV (over $2,500 in cost) vendor, with a market share of 33.3% in revenues and 38.7% in sales in Q1 2019. LG's strong OLED TV sales helped it increase its market share up from 22.9% (revenues) in 2018.
Samsung is the second European TV maker, with a market share of 25.2% (down from 42% in 2018). Sony's market share increased to 25.5% (up from 21.5%). Together Sony, LG and Samsung took up 84.1% of the market.
New high-end audio company Canvas released a new large speaker for LG's OLED TVs (supporting the flat OLEDB and OLEDC models, from 2016 to 2019). The Canvas provides high quality sound and also doubles as a stand for the TVs.
The Canvas connects to LG's OLEDs via HDMI-ARC or via an optical cable, and it also supports wireless audio connectivity. Canvas is launching a crowdfunding campaign, where the 55" model will cost $999 while the 65" model will cost $1,099.
Samsung has been developing its QD-OLED TV technology for a long time, but the company did not yet commit to actual production. Now Samsung Display's CEO officially announced that the company is "making good efforts" to launch QD-OLED panels in the "near future".
SDC has decided to shut down on of its 8.5-Gen LCD lines in Asan Korea, which will be converted to QD-OLED production in the future.
HDTVTest, together with Crampton & Moore, organized the 2019 TV shootout, to find out what's the best TV of 2019. The test included four 65-inch TVs - LG OLED65C9, Panasonic 65GZ2000, Samsung 65Q90R, and Sony's 65A9G. The reference display was Sony's BVM-X300 OLED mastering monitor.
The audience (38 AV enthusiasts) chose LG's OLEDC9 as the best TV of 2019, followed by Panasonic's GZ2000. OLED TVs were the best in all categories, except the bright-room performance, for which Samsung won first place with its high brightness.
In February 2019 LG Display started producing its 55" FHD transparent commercial OLED displays, and now the company says it plans to double its transparent OLED production in Q4 2019 - and continue to ramp up production years to come. LGD sees possible applications in shop windows, building façades and exhibition spaces.