In news that isn’t really news: Sony is reportedly setting aside any plans to produce OLED televisions in favor or focusing on 4K Ultra HD televisions, according to Nikkei Asian Review. This latest revelation comes more than two years after Sony first indicated it was halting work on consumer OLED televisions, and about five months since we learned its OLED-focused partnership with Panasonic was to be dissolved.
For those unaware, OLED (organic light emitting diode) televisions are considered by many to be the holy grail of TV tech. OLED displays do not use backlights like LCD/LED televisions do. Rather, much like plasma TV panels, OLED panels generate their own light, but instead of using gas, they use organic, luminescent compounds that illuminate when electricity is applied to them. OLED panels are extremely slim and flexible (hence the popularity of curved OLED TVs among manufacturers), and are capable of exceptionally high brightness, black levels, and color accuracy.
Manufacturing OLED panels, though, is tricky. Presently, making the panels is an expensive and slow process, and has been difficult to scale up. This explains why the OLED TVs introduced thus far have been wildly expensive and small in production numbers. OLED has taken off more in the smartphone and tablet area. The Galaxy S5, for example, has a AMOLED screen.
As for Sony: It makes sense that the company would turn its full focus toward 4K TV development. Sony owns the entire 4K production chain, from “scene to screen,” as it often says, and has a big stake in the success of 4K Ultra HD technology, which provides four times the resolution of HD television. Sony also remains for its customers one of the best sources available for 4K Ultra HD content. In a statement, Sony told Digital Trends, “Sony continues developing and looking into reliable ways to mass produce OLED displays for consumers while continuing to build experience via providing OLED displays for professional, medical and broadcast use.On the other hand, the cost and performance of LCD panels have both continued to improve and Sony is looking to continue focusing, for the time being, on releasing 4K LCD TVs containing a variety of Sony’s proprietary technologies into the high-end consumer big screen TV market.”
It was recently reported by the South Korean Herald that Samsung might also put OLED production on the back burner, though other reports indicate that rumor is not true. From what we know of Samsung, it is highly unlikely it would ever quit competing with its chief rival, LG, on any next-gen display tech, especially OLED. Digital Trends has reached out to Samsung for comment and will update this article with any new information.
Meanwhile, LG continues its push to lead in the OLED TV space. At this year’s International CES, LG introduced five new OLED television models, while Samsung introduced none.
Check back with Digital Trends soon for more coverage on the development (or lack thereof) of OLED televisions in 2014.