At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, it was a big no show of OLED TVs from the world’s No. 1 TV maker, Samsung Electronics.
This was in stark contrast to what its rival, LG Electronics, had planned for the biggest electronics show of the year as it had dozens of TV models featuring these next-generation displays known as organic light-emitting diode screens.
Samsung, instead, spent the week touting an upgraded screen color technology that can be applied to existing liquid crystal displays that will allow for a similar vivid and crisp color representation as OLEDs but at much more affordable price points.
The revamped LCD technology, which uses nanocrystals that emit different colors and is referred to as “quantum dot,” was the center of focus at Samsung’s TV booth outlining the company’s mainstream products for the year ahead.
It didn’t hesitate to play down OLEDs, a technology it had once had great hopes for when it introduced its first 55-inch OLED TV with a curved design in 2013.
“The factors that have generally been viewed as technological benefits of OLED – such as color, contrast and thickness – are all achievable with LCD TV,” a company spokesman said by e-mail. “Overall, what’s important is what kind of value the technology can deliver to consumers – not which panel it uses.”
Samsung claimed that its new array of ultra high-definition LCD TVs, branded as SUHD TVs, based on quantum dot ,encompasses the advantages of OLED TVs while improving their flaws. (The “S,” doesn’t stand for just one thing but has a number of meanings including Samsung, and superlatives like “superb,” according to the company.)
Now, with a key selling point for OLEDs almost on par with LCDs, the best thing LG can do—as the virtual sole promoter of OLED TVs in the global market—is to continue slashing those hefty price tags largely at its own expense and hope the technology sticks. A number of electronic companies have previously tried and failed at finding a successful manufacturing technique for large-sized OLED screens.
“It all comes down to pricing,” Scott Ahn, LG’s chief technology officer said, acknowledging the challenges OLED TVs continue to face. But he added that the company still had strong belief in the technology and that hurdles in boosting the manufacturing efficiency will be resolved “soon.”
A few companies like Japan’s Panasonic and China’s Haier did have prototypes of OLED TVs on display at their CES booths, hinting at their interest in the technology but they didn’t have any specific commercialization plans.
Companies claim OLED screens still have promise as they can be developed in flexible forms.