OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) is a new technology that enables brighter, more efficient, thinner, faster and better looking displays. OLED panels feature better refresh rates and contrast than either LCD or Plasma - and can be made flexible and transparent.
Sony has been involved with OLED research, development and production for years, and can claim several OLED firsts: in 2004 they launched the world's first PDA with an OLED display (the 3.8" Clie PEG-VZ90), the world's first OLED TV in 2007 (the 11" XEL-1) and for a while they offered the largest OLED displays (the 24.5" BVM-F250 professional OLED monitors). Today Sony produces OLED TVs - using panels produced by LG Display.
Back in 2007, Sony launched the "world's first OLED TV" (the XEL-1), although at 11-inch, it should not really be considered a TV - maybe not even a monitor. It was only made in small quantities and the price ($2,500) was very high. In February 2010 Sony stopped producing the XEL-1.
In January 2009, Sony unveiled their 'X' series OLED walkman. They claimed it was the best sounding walkman ever, and it's got the best display, too: a 3-inch 432x240 touch AMOLED. Sony has also used a large AMOLED in their NW-A840 walkman.
Sony's main product line is now smartphones - but the company has yet to release an OLED smartphone.
Sony PlayStation VR
In October 2016 Sony launched its PlayStation VR HMD. Sony's VR HMD uses a 5.7" FHD (1920x1080) AMOLED display (produced by Samsung Display), 360-degree tracking and 3D audio. Sony enjoyed strong sales of this VR headset.
Sony OLED microdisplays
Sony are also producing OLED microdisplays, and have several such displays on the market, including a 0.5" XGA (1024x768) panel for digital camera EVFs and a 0.7" 1280x720 microdisplay used in Sony's HMD products.
According to rumors from Japan, Sony is set to supply Apple with OLED Microdisplays for Apple's future AR headset project. The rumors did not include more information than that...
Apple (like all other consumer electronics giants) is very active with AR R&D, as many believe that AR headsets will be very popular in the future and may replace smartphones. While I'm a bit skeptical about this technology, it is evident that many companies are increasing their R&D efforts in this field.
According to Omdia, Samsung Display has started to provide QD-OLED TV prototypes to potential customers - including Samsung Electronics, Sony and Panasonic. Samsung Display is on track to start mass production in Q3 2021.
Interestingly, Samsung Electronics is still not sure whether it will adopt QD-OLED TVs in 2021, as the company aims to focus on mini-LED panels in 2021, and may only release QD-OLED TVs in 2022.
In early 2019, nreal unveiled its AR glasses that provide high quality 52-degree FOV images in a relatively small and normal-looking frame that weighs just 85 grams. The prototypes shown at CES used Sony's FHD 0.7" OLED microdisplays (ECX335AF-7), but according to reports the commercial units will use BOE's OLED microdisplays (probably sized 0.71").
The A8H series is based on Google's Android smart TV platform and features support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Homekit and Amazon Alexa. The A8H features Sony's Acoustic Surface and the company's X1 Ultimate picture processor, Pixel Contrast Booster and X-Motion Clarity. The A8H supports Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision standards.
Both Sony and Panasonic announced new OLED TVs for 2020. First up, and most interesting, is Sony's Bravia A9S Master Series - the company's first 48" 4K OLED TV. The A9S is based on Google's Android smart TV platform and features Sony's Acoustic Surface and the company's X1 Ultimate picture processor among other features.
Sony also announced the A8H OLED TV range that come in either 55" or 65" sizes and support similar technologies to the A9S.
Sony announced two new high-brightness OLED microdisplays, the ECX336C and ECX335S. Both new microdisplays offer up a brightness of up to 3,000 cd/m2 - these are Sony's most bright OLED microdisplays ever (the previous ones were up to 1,000 cd/m2).
The ECX336C is a 0.23" nHD+ (640x400) microdisplay while the ECX335S is a new model of Sony's 0.7" Full-HD (1920x1080) display. Both will enter mass production in Q1 2020.
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.
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.
Sony officially announced the pricing and availability of its 2019 OLED TV range. Sony's flagship TV, the A9G, will start shipping in May 2019. The 55" will cost $3,399, while the 65" model will cost $4,499. Amazon already lists the new TVs. The 77" model, which will cost $7,999 will start shipping in June.
The A9G offers "consumer reference-quality image" and features Sony's X1 Ultimate Picture Processor, Pixel Contrast Booster and an automated calibration mode (including a dedicated mode for Netflix). The A9G features Sony's Acoustic Surface Audio - which means that the TV stand doubles as a high end speaker. The TV is based on the Android TV OS.