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.
In early 2019 LG Electronics announced the world's first rollable OLED TV, the 65" Signature OLED TV R and the 88" 8K Z9 OLED TV. Today LGE announced that it plans to start shipping both TVs in the second half of 2019, in Korea. LG did not disclose the price of these two high-end TVs.
The rollable and 88" OLED TVs will be highly expensive - these are high-end premium products. LG Electronics did however say that as it shipped over 4 million OLED TVs since the first one shipped in March 2013, OLED TVs are now "crossing the chasm" and are starting to be adopted by the mainstream market and not only early adopters.
Lenovo demonstrated a prototype foldable ThinkPad laptop, tat features a 13.3" foldable OLED display. Lenovo says that it developed this device for over three years, and hopes to launched a commercial one in 2020.
The reporters at The Verge really liked the device, but noted that the hardware is clearly not finished - the folding mechanism for example did not feel sturdy (and we all know this is critical in a foldable device) and the display itself suffers from "remarkably poor viewing angles".
LG's 2019 OLED W9 Wallpaper TV is now shipping and costs $6,999 for the 65" model and $12,999 for the 77" model. The W9 TVs are 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.
The OLED W9 also features HDMI 2.1 which enables high frame rate (HFR) support, enhanced audio return channel (eARC), variable refresh rate (VRR) and automatic low latency mode (ALLM). LG's flagship OLED also feature Dolby Atmos for immersive entertainment.
GizChina reports that senior executives at Intel said that the company is looking at laptops with foldable OLED displays, working together with LG Display, Samsung Display, BOE and Sharp. There are many challenges to overcome, and Intel estimates that such foldable laptops will not arrive before 2021.
HiSense launched its Series X OLED TVs in Australia towards the end of 2018, with an initial price tag of $3,500 AUD for the 55" model. According to a new report from Australia, HiSense's OLED TV sales were lower than expected, to the point that HiSense lowered the price to $1,495 to clear its stock.
According to ChannelNews.au HiSense is likely losing money on each TV sold. According to reviews, Hisense's OLED TVs are not as impressive as OLED TVs from LG and Sony, and consumers are preferring to buy LG's OLED TVs as Hisense is not perceived as a premium brand.
LG Display reported disappointing financial results for Q1 2019 - with an operating loss of $113 million. LG Display warns that the whole of 2019 will fall short of expectations - due to high costs of its new OLED fabs, weak LCD panel prices and low adoption of its smartphone OLEDs.
According to Anandtech, who posted an extensive review of the P30 and P30, the supplier for the smaller 6.1" AMOLED on the P30 is indeed Samsung Display, but Huawei uses both LG Display and BOE as suppliesr for the large 6.47" AMOLED on the P30 Pro.
LG Display currently produces flexible OLEDs (branded as pOLEDs), for both wearable devices and smartphones, is the exclusive supplier of AMOLED displays for Apple's Watch smartwatch (although this could change soon) and it also supplies OLED displays for various smartphones, including the company's own flagship phones.
LG Display has been struggling, though - with low yields, poor display quality and securing orders. According to a new report from Business Korea, there is some skepticism regarding the viability of this business - including some inside LG Display's management itself.
A couple of weeks ago we reported that LG Display has decided to quit the OLED lighting market, as it found it difficult to ramp out production and lower its production costs. It was not clear what's the future of LGD's automotive OLED lighting business, but now we have an update from Korea.
According to ETNews, LG display has indeed found it difficult to win orders for its consumer OLED lighting products, and has decided to "reduce" its Luflex OLED lighting product line. LGD, however, is not quitting the OLED lighting market - but is stepping up its efforts to supply automotive OLED lighting solutions.
In February 2019, at the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) tradeshow, LG Electronics launched its 55" transparent touch-enabled OLED displays. The displays are not available commercially yet, but LG seems to be advancing and we now know the first such display model number - the 55EW5F.
We still do not have the specification of LG's first transparent OLED signage, but the company latest prototype shown at CES 2019 featured a transparency of 40% - so we can assume that these new commercial displays feature the same transparency. It is also likely that they are touch enabled (that's what been shown in previous trade shows).