Short for organic light-emitting diode, one of the main ways OLED displays differ from LED-lit LCD displays is that they don’t need a backlight to brighten up your living room. Simply applying electrical current lights up each OLED pixel individually, which not only allows the displays to offer unparalleled black levels, rich colors, and vivid contrast, but also allows OLED displays to be remarkably thin; LG’s EC9700 4K OLED TV, for instance, is about as thick as an iPad.
The design gets even thinner when you remove the brains of the TV from the equation, as LG Display has done with its fascinating wallpaper display prototype. Dubbed a “future display” by the company, the panel is a remarkable .97mm thick, and weighs just over 4 pounds (1.9 kg) allowing it to be placed virtually anywhere with ease.
Such a display probably won’t be used in a TV anytime in the near term; it’s more likely to end up in wearable technology, automobile manufacturing, and commercial applications. Still, we could conceivably see such technology (paired with an outboard processing unit) becoming the TV of the future. Imagine being able to detach your screen along with a small hardware accessory, and mount it virtually anywhere.
In addition to the new ultra-thin 55-inch OLED, LG Display also showed off a new convex OLED display that will primarily be aimed for commercial applications.
While virtually every other brand on the market has all but given up on OLED as an expensive, fickle display technology that proved too difficult to manufacture en masse (including Sony, Panasonic, and Korean rival Samsung), LG has essentially staked its future on it. The company unveiled its first commercially viable OLED TV last year in the EC9300 HDTV ($3,500), and has continued to ramp up production, unveiling several new models for 2015, all of which will pack 4K UHD resolution.
According to the Yonhap report, LG will ramp up toward the release of a 99-inch OLED display to accompany the 55, 65, and 77-inch displays LG has already made available for purchase. And LG TVs may be just the beginning.
“We should be able to supply a satisfactory volume to our clients from July or August, which means we’re hoping to buckle down production as well as promotion from the third quarter,” said the head of LG Display’s OLED division Yeo Sang-deog at a press conference.
To be clear, LG Display supplies the panels — which are used in LG TVs, as well as in other applications outside the company. In theory, the Display wing could sell its panels to other TV manufacturers as well — after all, money spends the same whether you’re selling OLED panels, or full-on TVs. However, exactly which companies LG Display is supplying with OLED panels is unclear.
The company did say that it expects to sell 600,000 OLED panels this year, and 1.5 million next year as it has created higher yields in the complicated process. For now, however, LG Electronics is the lone brand waving the OLED flag among the major players in the TV biz.
Just when (or if) the rest of us will get our hands on one of those futuristic, ultra-thin OLED displays that can be peeled off the wall with ease remains to be seen.
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