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.
On March 9th, LG Display's promotion team kindly invited us to a tour of LG's "Display City" in Paju, Korea. The display complex houses about 20,000 employees, and is highly impressive. It was a pleasure to get the opportunity to see it.
LG announced its 2019 OLED TV range in January 2019, and now the company announced the pricing and availability of its upcoming TVs for all models - except the rollable OLED TV R and the 88" 8K OLED Z9.The "entry-level" OLED C9 will cost $2,499 for the 55" model (will be available in April), $3,499 for the 65" model (April) and $6,999 for the 77" model (May) . The OLED E9 TVs will cost $3,299 for the 55" model (June) and $4,299 for the 65" model (April).
We do not have any details on this TV, and whether it is just a prototype or a product that Skyworth aims to launch soon. In any case it turns out that Skyworth already demonstrated this TV at CES 2019, but we failed to report on that. In addition to the large OLED, Skyworth also demonstrated a new OLED TV design which they call waterfall OLED - look at the image below to understand why. It is not clear but it is likely that this is a prototype rollable OLED TV.
In early March we conducted a 10 day trip to Seoul, to attend the OLED Korea 2019 conference (and visit some local display companies).
Visiting Seoul is a great chance to witness some beautiful OLED installations - LG Display has been deploying its OLED lighting and display solutions across town in businesses and tourist attractions. Retail stores of course were showing the latest smartphones by Samsung and LG - all of which adopt high end flexible AMOLED displays.
Last month LG Electronics announced its G8 ThinQ with its 6.1" 1440x3120 Crystal Sound OLED. According to a new trademark filing, LG now aims to brand its CSO OLEDs as "Display Speaker".
A Crystal Sound OLED, or Display Speaker turns the flexible OLED display into high end speakers. This innovating OLED technology works for smartphones, TVs and also OLED lighting panels. In LG's trademark filing, it also hints that this technology will be used in future wearable displays.
According to Business Korea, LG Display is likely to start investing in its P10 10.5-Gen OLED TV fab in Paju by the end of the month (Q1 2019). Total investment in the P10 production fab is estimated to reach almost $10 billion.
LGD was supposed to start ordering equipment for the P10 line towards the end of 2018, but the company delayed these plans - according to an earlier BK report, LGD delayed the P10 fab in late 2018 as it found the shift to new 10.5-Gen substrates more challenging than it earlier expected, and in addition it wanted to focus on its upcoming 8.5-Gen line in Guangzhou first. Apparently LGD is now ready to start building the P10 line.
Yesterday at the OLED Korea conference, LG Display detailed its future plans for its OLED TV business - and besides the expected flexible, transparent, rollable and 8K panels, the company also said it plans to start producing 48" OLED TV panels:
This is the first time we hear of such plans, and it will be very good news to the many consumer who waited patiently for smaller OLED TVs.
The first day of the OLED Korea 2019 conference is almost over - with some interesting lectures and talks by leading OLED companies and professionals. Here are some of the things under discussion today (highlights only):
Some believe there will be a real market for >$2,000 foldable OLED devices, and some call for cost reductions before real adoption could take place
LG Display is optimistic regarding the future of OLED TVs
Universal Display's RGBB architecture is back on the table - and the company now highlights the architecture's low blue light emission. UDC seems more optimistic then ever regarding blue PHOLED commercialization
Equipment maker's focus is shifting to China as Korean OLED makers will not increase capacity in the near future
LG did not yet announce the price and availability of its 2019 OLED TVs, but B&H photo in the US now lists LG's OLED TV range - ready for pre-orders.
So first up we have the basic model, the OLED C9. The 55" model costs $2,496.99 while the 65" one costs $3,496.99 and the 77" costs $6,996.99. The C9 is LG's basic 2019 OLED TV, based on LG's 2nd-gen Alpha 9 intelligent processor which enables LG's ThinQ AI to offer new display algorithms and Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant.