There are two main factors holding back widespread OLED screen acceptance at the moment. The price and the fact that the technology has not matured yet; there are a number of kinks that still need to be ironed out and most people are just not sure if they want to risk over $6000 on a first-generation product with teething troubles.
Many experts believe that the price problem is temporary, and they are probably right; Panasonic believes that OLED screens will become cheaper over the next five years, andLG’sprices have already started to dip,but unless big names support the format, the screen manufacturers will not be motivated enough to improve their yield ratios. This would meanscreens remain expensive with prices stabilizing at around $1500,and could pave the way for another technology. Samsung have already ditched OLED in favor of a new system called quantum dot.
Up until now LG has been the only significant backer of OLED and so it has had a head start in the market. Panasonic does have experience and credibility in the industry, having being one of the first to sell plasma televisions, but they quickly lost the format race to the LCD screen. This time around, Panasonic thinks they have what it takes to lead OLED to the next level.
They unveiled the 65-inch CZ950 at the IFA trade show in Berlin recently, and it’s set to hit the market in 2017. The major selling-pointsare that the screen is going to be 4K-capable,there is no need for a backlight to illuminate the screenand it will consume a fraction of the electricity that LED televisions use.Panasonic claim that they are using a totally different algorithm and signal processor to light up individual pixels. This ensures exceptionally sharp images across the screen, and is much better than LG’s picture quality.
The one thing both companies have in common is that they are using white OLEDs. This means that each pixel is white by default, shining bright white light through blue, green and red filters to create individual colors. Both television manufacturers believe that OLEDs are the best place to start, mainly because they are cheap to manufacture and have a low error rate. This is despite the fact that the sub-pixel technology previously used by Samsung could produce better results.
Almost all LG and Panasonic OLED televisions have a slight curve. This new trend has caught on, but it does have its problems; the picture quality is not all that good, and you need a minimum size of 100 inches or viewers sitting on the margins will have no idea what’s going on. The optimal viewing angle is from the front, which is impractical, hence the tepid customer response to the format.
The other problem with LG’s OLED screens is that they tend to fade. Many people have reported that the screen appears to become less sharp in certain areas after a year or so in service. Sony had the same issue when they used OLED screens in their PS Vita. This has turned many people away from the technology.
LG’s OLED televisions are not as bright as they should be. However, if Panasonic manages to overcome this and the other drawbacks above, there is a solid market willing to welcome OLED into their homes. Ideally the brightness should go up by at least 500 units and, judging by what we saw in Berlin, Panasonic could be on the right track.
One of the biggest selling-points for OLEDs is that the display can be made very thin and so they can be folded. However, the drivers and processors will have to be built to accommodate the folding action. We doubt if we are are going to see fold-up TVs within the next two years,but smaller and more flexible circuits will eventually make the feature a reality.
Unless LCDs are capable of producing UHD or 4K resolutions, OLEDs are going to be the clear winners. A side-by-side comparison of the two formats clearly indicates that, once prices go down and the bugs are ironed out,the future is certainly OLED.