OLED is an emerging display technology that uses thin films of organic materials to make efficient, thin and high quality displays. OLED panels can made flexible, rollable and transparent. Korea's LG is at the forefront of OLED development and production - as the world's only OLED TV producer and a leading developer of flexible OLED and OLED lighting panels. LG's subsidiary LG Display is responsible for OLED R&D and panel production, while LG Electronics produces and markets OLED TVs.
LG OLED TVs
LG's 2018 OLED TV lineup include the flagship Wallpaper OLEDW8 (which attaches to the wall using magnets), the OLED-on-glass OLEDE8, the basic OLEDC8 and the entry level OLEDB8. The only TV that is shipping now is the 55" OLEDC8 which is priced at $2,500 (note: this is an affiliated link to Amazon).
As of 2018, the only company that produces produces commercial OLED TV panels is LG Display, and LG Electronics is the leading OLED TV producer - although LGD also supplies OLED panels to other companies including including Panasonic, Sony, Grundig, Philips, Metz, Loewe, Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and others.
While the basic OLED TV design uses RGB OLED sub-pixels to create each 'pixel' (what is referred to as direct emission OLED, the design used in mobile OLED displays used in Samsung's and Apple's smartphones, for example), LG Display opted for a different OLED TV design. The so-called WRGB (or WOLED-CF) architecture uses four white OLED subpixels with color filters on top (hence W+RBG). The WRGB technology (developed by Kodak and now owned by LG Display) is much easier to produce and scale-up, even though it has some technical disadvantages - and it is the technology that enabled LG to be the first company to actually produce commercial OLED TV panels.
LG Display is developing and producing OLED lighting panels, and the company is one of the leaders in OLED lighting. The company produces several panels, including flexible OLED panels and high efficiency panels. In December 2017 LG started mass production at its new 5-Gen OLED lighting fab in Gumi, Korea.
The 5-Gen line has an initial capacity of 15,000 substrates per month - about 30 times the capacity of LG's previous 2-Gen line that had a monthly capacity of 4,000 substrates. LG hopes that the new line will enable it to produces OLED lighting panels at a much lower cost (initial estimates suggested a 95% cost reduction!) which it hopes will trigger the widespread adoption of OLED lighting globally.
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.
According to a report from Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, LG Display has passed Apple's quality requirements and has started to produce AMOLED displays for Apple's next generation iPhone, to be announced in September.
According to JoongAng Ilbo, Apple aims to ship around 65 million units of its new smartphones, and has contracted LGD to produce between 6 to 7 million panels, around 10% of Apple's total needs. The rest will be produced by Samsung Display. LGD will produce the displays at its E6 production line in Paju, Korea.
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.
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.
OLED is an amazing technology for lighting - it creates beautiful, efficient and healthy light sources. OLED lighting has great promise but unfortunately the high price of production is a challenge that no one has managed to overcome and OLED lighting remains a small niche industry as of 2019.
In the early years, several large lighting makers (including GE, Philips, OSRAM, Panasonic, NEC and others) had active OLED lighting programs, but slowly almost all of these companies dropped out of the market - for various reasons - but the main one being that the large investments in large scale production are not certified to lead to market adoption and the competition with LED lighting is extremely difficult.
An open-cell panel can lower the costs for TV makers as each can decide on the assembly process and driver ICs. It could also lead to more innovation and differentiation. Many LCD TV panels are sold in that fashion - but for LG's OLED this will be the first time.
Apple is currently using an LGD 1.57" 394x324 LTPO AMOLED display (1.78" 448x368 on the larger 44mm version) in its latest Watch smart wearable device. Apple's involvement in Micro-LED displays started in 2014 when it acquired LuxVue, and it was always assumed that Apple's main aim for the new display technology is to adopt it in wearable devices.
According to a new report from Taiwan, PlayNitride and RiTDisplay are in talks with Apple to supply microLED displays for Apple's next-generation Watch wearable. A micro-LED display could offer much higher brightness and efficiency compared to an AMOLED display, both of which could be highly desirable in wearable devices.