Article last updated on: Apr 02, 2018

What is an OLED TV?

An OLED TV screen uses a new display technology called OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). OLED technology enables displays that are brighter, more efficient, thinner and feature better refresh rates and contrast than either LCD or Plasma displays. Simply put, OLED TVs deliver the best picture quality ever!

LG EG9600 photo

OLED TV technology

OLED displays are made by placing thin films of organic (carbon based) materials between two conductors. When electrical current is applied, light is emitted. OLED displays are emissive and unlike LCDs, do not require a backlight (unlike LCDs). OLED TV panels offers several advantages over LCDs:

  • Faster refresh rate, better contrast (true blacks) and better color reproduction
  • Better form factor - OLED enables much thinner panels
  • Better viewing angle - almost 180 degrees
  • Efficiency - in an OLED display, only the lit pixels draw power, unlike in an LCD.)
  • OLED panels can potentially be made flexible and/or transparent - think rollable TVs!

OLED TVs on the market - what can you buy today?

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.

LG OLEDW8 photoLG 2018 OLEDW8

Reviews of OLED TVs are terrific, and most experts and consumers agree that these OLED TVs are the best TVs ever produced - with virtually perfect image quality and beautiful form factors.



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).

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 (and 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. Both LG and Samsung 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. These kinds of technologies are exciting - and while it will be some years before they reach the market, they could eventually redefine the TV of the future.

LGD 18'' rollable OLED prototype (CES 2016)
Samsung Display 55'' transparent OLED photo

Further reading

Latest OLED TV news

ZDNet: LG's OLED TVs at Incheon airport suffer from serious burn-in

According to a ZDNet report, the LG OLED TVs at Incheon Airport, installed only a few months ago, suffer from serious permanent image-retention, or burn-in. You can see the artifact at the top part of the TV in the photo below:

LG OLED TV at Incheon airport - burn-in photo

According to ZDNet, LG installed 29 such OLED TVs at the airport lobby in addition to 40 more units at four of the airport's lounges. These were installed in January 2018, only four months ago. LG Electronics did not comment on this story.

LGD to start ordering equipment for its Guangzhou OLED TV fab next month

In July 2017 LG Display announced that it has decided to build a 8.5-Gen (2200x2500) OLED line in Guangzhou, China, to make OLED TV panels. The Korean government hesitated whether to approve this plan, as it sees OLED as a strategic technology Korea' economy, but by the end of 2017 LGD got the approval for its new OLED TV fab.

LG Display's LCD fab in Guangzhou, China

LGD is apparently still waiting for an approval from the Chinese authorities, but according to a new report from Korea, LG Display is expected to place the orders for the new fab equipment next month. This report says that total investment in this new fab is estimated at $3.17 billion - although LGD itself estimated the whole fab at $2.3 billion USD. Perhaps LGD only counted its own stake, as the local government in Guangzhou will award LGD with 30% the funds.

OLED Handbook

IHS: AMOLED area shipments to reach 22.4 million sqm in 2024

IHS estimates that AMOLED shipments (by area) reached 5 million square meters in 2017, and the market will grow to 22.4 million sqm by 2024.

AMOLED shipment area (2015-2024, IHS)

Growth in 2017 was driven by a doubling of AMOLED TV panel area shipments (from 800,000 sqm in 2016 to 1.6 million in 2017). By 2024, IHS expects OLED TV shipments to reach 12.5 million units.

Samsung: no plans to release an OLED TV soon, but we are researching hybrid QD-OLEDs

In February it was reported that Samsung is developing a hybrid Quantum-Dots OLED technology for its future TVs. This report was soon denied by Samsung's Visual Display Business VP, Han Jong-hee, who said that Samsung is sticking to its two-track strategy for premium TVs, namely QD-LCDs and Micro-LEDs.

Samsung OLED TV (2013)

Today Samsung's Han Jong-hee again says that Samsung has no plans to produce an OLED TV any time soon - but he does confirm that the company is researching a way to combine QDs with OLEDs. According to our information, Samsung's main R&D initiative use blue OLED emitters and blue light to white light conversion using quantum-dots, combined with color filters (QDCFs) to add red and green colors.

LGD aims to produce 10 million OLED TV panels in 2021

The Nikkei Asian Review reports that LG Display aims to increase its OLED TV production capacity to 10 million units by 2021 - which is six times its capacity in 2017 (1.7 million). Next year LGD aims to produce around 2.8 million OLED TVs. LGD's investment in new OLED TV capacity will reach $18 billion by 2020.

LGD 88'' 8K OLED prototype photo

LG Display is enjoying a surge in demand for OLED TVs, and OLED TVs sales account for around half of its high-end TV sales (TVs with a price tag of over $2,000). In 2018 OLED's share in LGD's premium TV panes will grow to 70%. LG Display is confident it could even sell 20 million OLED TV panels each year, if it could make them. LG is "betting all on OLED" and minimizes its LCD investments as much as possible.

LG starts shipping its 2018 OLEDE8 OLED TVs

LG continues to roll out its new 2018 OLED TVs, and today Amazon.com started to ship the 55" OLEDE8 - for $3,300 ($200 lower than LG's official $3,499).

LG OLED65E8 photo

The OLEDE8 is a series (55" / 65") of high-end picture-on-glass 4K OLED TVs. The TVs are powered by LG's new a9 "intelligent processor" that promises better color and fast smart TV (webOS) operations. The TV will support Google's Assistant for natural language control, Dolby Atmos, HDR and 4K HFR.

LG starts to ship its 2018 OLED TVs in the US

LG introduced its 2018 OLED TV lineup in January 2018, and later announced the pricing of most of these TVs, saying these will ship in April 2018. LG did not yet announce formally it started shipping its new TVs, but its first one arrived in Amazon today - the 55" OLEDC8 priced at $2,500 - lower than LG's official price of $2,999.

LG 65OLEDC8 photo

The OLEDC8 is one of LG's basic models in its 2018 4K OLED TV lineup. The C8 series (available in 55", 65" and 77") will support 4K HDR, HFR, Dolby Atmos, webOS with Google assistant and will run on LG's latest a9 "intelligent processor" that promises better color and fast smart TV (webOS) operations.

Will Samsung construct an OLED TV fab at its A5 production site?

Samsung's OLED fabs are currently under utilized - with some analysts estimating that its flexible OLED fabs are running at about 50% capacity following lower-than-expected orders from Apple. SDC also decided to delay its upcoming A5 production fab.

Samsung OLED TVs (2013)

This is a lot of wasted capacity. Last month I speculated that SDC may target new applications for its OLEDs - including monitors and laptops - or perhaps transparent OLEDs as well. According to a new report from Korea, SDC may be aiming to start constructing an A5 line - but use it to produce large-area OLED TV panels. According to a financial analyst, Samsung recently assembled a new OLED TV team with 300 R&D employees.

Sony announces the prices of its 2018 OLED TVs

Sony's announced the prices of its new 2018 OLED TV, the AF8. The 55" model will retail for $2,800 while the 65" one will cost $3,800. The AF8 will ship soon in the summer. You can pre-order now at Amazon.com, although prices are higher by around $500 then Sony's official price.

Sony AF8 photo

The AF8 is a premium TV series (55-inch / 65-inch) that feature Sony's X1 Extreme picture processor, Sony's Acoustic Surface tech and Google and Amazon voice recognition technologies.