South Korea’s LG Electronics has announced that plans to launch a 15-inch AM OLED television next month, taking the wraps off the unit at the upcoming IFA trade show in Berlin, then opening up commercial sales for the unit in Korea in November. The company plans to bring the the unit to overseas markets in 2010…but at this point, no one is mentioning prices, and it’s save to say the 15-inch OLED TV won’t be cheap.
A 15-inch television might not seem like that big a deal in a era where every electronics company (including LG—it’s the world’s second largest manufacturer of TVS) are pushing 30-, 40, and 50+ inch plasma and LCD displays. However, active matrix organic light-emitting diode (AM OLED) displays differ substantially from traditional flatscreen displays: they use self-illuminating pixels that don’t require any sort of backlighting. The result is a display that’s both thinner than traditional LCD displays, uses less power, and offers better picture quality. However, AM OLED displays are currently expensive to produce: small versions are making their way into consumer electronics, phones, and media players, but the cost of bringing the technology to televisions and computers is still enormous.
Sony launched the world’s first commercial OLED television in late 2007 at a price approaching $2,000; it measured 11 inches, and the company has yet to follow up on the product. Several other manufacturers have announced plans to make OLED TVs, but to date no other products have reached market.