Television, the worlds favourite pass-time is on the cusp of another technological revolution, a revolution behind the scenes. The technology that lights up our living rooms is going organic. OLED to be precise. Organic Light Emitting Diodes are the latest technology to invade our TV’s.
LCD was victorious over Plasma in the first round of the Flat Screen wars, now it has a new challenger. With no time to enjoy the victory LCD has been giving a preview of the future, and its nervous.
As sponsors of the recent Monaco Grand Prix LG chose to use the occasion as a spectacular backdrop. demonstrating their new TV to a select group of journalists. For the first time allowing people to get up close and personal with this new high-tech OLED TV wonder.
With a 1mm bezel and 4mm deep screen the 55EM9600U television is itself a work of art, almost seeming to float in mid air. The OLED technology that drives the picture provides completely black blacks, rich colours and fast refresh rates to produce a picture that is massive on the wow factor.
The New Next Generation TV
LG has launched the first salvo in the next generation television battle. Previewing their new spectacular technology LG has finally arrived. Samsung and LG are now locked in a Korean Mexican stand-off, who will be first to twitch and actually release the technology?
While LG’s new OLED tele will capture much attention purely by design, its the picture that will sell units. With the purest blacks, bright colours and fast frame rates OLED is the best picture available since the peak of the high end CRT monitors. The HD 1920 x 1080 picture seems to float in mid air, an effect generated by the 1mm bezel around the luminous display.
Longevity of the OLED pixels, especially blue, was the last major hurdle that has kept OLED out of the living room, LG devised a clever solution called WRGB. By using white LED’s with coloured sub-pixel filters, to generate the RGB pixels, they avoid the longevity issues and simplify production. A forth white sub-pixel is also included with the RGB sun-pixels, hence the WRGB title. The addition of a white pixel to the usual RGB also helps to improve brightness and contrast control.
Construction of the TV is pure high end. The use of carbon fibre as the backplate for the display allows the super slim 4mm profile, also helping to keep the weight down to 10kg. The electronics for the television can be housed in the TV’s base or optionally a set top box is available.
Initially this will be the sort of TV that crowds gather around at stores, with owww’s when they see the picture and ahhhh’s when they see the price, $8,000 USD.
“In the history of television, there have been very few innovations as impactful as the coming of OLED TV,” said Havis Kwon, President and CEO of LG’s Home Entertainment Company. “We say THE ULTIMATE DISPLAY because LG OLED TV is truly above all expectations and beyond everyone’s imagination with uncompromising picture quality and beautiful design. This year, we plan to make OLED synonymous with LG.”
For the short period that LG has the only 55 inch OLED TV LG can fairly claim to be the highest technology TV company in the world. LG has a production ready product on their hands, that could be released as soon as July. Publicly LG is stating their target is a second half of 2012 release. Start saving those pennies.
Samsung OLED TV, The Competition.
LG won’t have the next generation TV market to itself for long, Samsung also has OLED technology waiting in the wings. The ES9500 is Samsungs entrant into the 55 inch OLED TV market, available ‘the second half of 2012’, first in South Korea for $9,000 USD.
Samsung has a long tradition of working with OLED, typically mobile phone displays. The Samsung OLED TV will use the latest Super OLED technology. Samsung use a traditional Red, Green and Blue subpixel structure. With the three coloured LED’s combining to produce the displayed colour. This is a more complex approach than LG’s WRGB but it should yield better, richer colours.
Shown off at the Worlds Fair (May) the ES9500 looked equally as production ready as the LG unit, the release date is every bit as vague as well. Samsung manage to be veaguely specific stating ‘the second half, of the second half of 2012’. LG simply states the second half of 2012.
LCD, Not Dead Yet.
OLED represents the next generation TV technology but there is still life left in LCD yet. There will be a much longer cross over period for these two technologies, LCD won’t go extinct as quickly as CRT. The size of the flat panel monitor market along with advances in technology will keep LCD alive for decades yet.
Toshiba and Sharp have both recently displayed ultra high definition LCD’s. Toshiba;s LCD is capable of 8K resolutions, while Sharp and other manufacturers have demonstrating 4k resolution capable panels. These higher resolutions are possible on OLED but are a few generations away.
LCD also has the size advantage, with 55 inches being the limit for OLED for at least a year, for sizes over 55 LCD will be the only game in town.
LCD will also hold a price advantage over OLED for many years to come. The shear size of the installed production base around the world will help to ensure this. This is also the advantage of being such a well established industry.
The technology we covett in our living rooms is on the verge of a generational change. Even the first generation OLED TV’s are demonstrating display quality leagues ahead of the best LCD. The last quarter of 2012 should see two competing 55 inch OLED TV’s on the market, with two different technologies, two approaches, the battle for our living rooms is surely warming up.
The high price of this first generation OLED will make this a slow-motion revolution initially, but prices will drop, sales will increase and the great technology round-about will continue to spin. Now, is there anything on TV?