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Why You Should Consider OLED for Your Next TV (Exclusive Press Trip to Seoul)

This is part two of our LG press trip coverage to Seoul. Read part one here.

In part one, we looked at LG’s vision for the smart home while exploring the concept of a democratic smart home ecosystem. To recap, we were invited by LG to Seoul, South Korea back in late May to check out their headquarters and R&D centres as part of an exclusive press trip.

In part two today, we’ll be focusing on OLED TVs, a breed of TV which LG is known for. We’ll look at the inroads they’ve made so far in the TV world and see why OLED is set to be the next big thing in TV.


Part Two: OLED TVs – The next big thing in the TV world?

A brief history: Commercially viable OLED TVs were first rolled out for sale by LG in 2013. The 55-inch, full HD TV was, at the time, one of the largest TVs around. Available first in the South Korean market, it was going for a whopping 11 million Won (approximately 13,000 SGD).

Following this launch, other brands tried to follow suit but the road to manufacturing them so that they be commercially viable was fraught with difficulties, which eventually allowed LG to move to the forefront of this technology. Today, the OLED TV scene is dominated by LG, with other brands either foregoing developing OLED TVs all together or getting their OLED display panels from the home electronics brand.

The LG OLED TV W displayed in a home setting at LG’s Pyeongtaek showroom.

The popularity of OLED TVs is somewhat hindered by their price. OLED TVs are notoriously difficult and expensive to produce, which makes them pricey to buy. But prices have gone down quite a bit since the early days, with LG’s latest 55-inch OLED 4K TV (OLED55C8P) retailing at just over $4600. If the trend continues, we’ll be looking at pretty affordable OLED TVs in the next five years. Still, LG maintains that OLED TVs will stay in the ranks of their premium TV range.

Despite high manufacturing costs and a (still) relatively tame demand worldwide, LG is still adamant about focusing on developing OLED TVs. Calvin Cho, who is in charge of overseas marketing and sales in Asia for LG, states that this is because they see the OLED TV as the TV for the future. “We are preparing for the future.”

Calvin Cho, noting that there is a trend towards bigger screens with better quality.

Calvin spoke at length about a marketing survey LG did. It was found that a large majority (99%) of consumers who came in with the mind-set to buy an OLED TV left with one even after being introduced to a UHD TV (a lower premium quality TV), while 30% of those who came in with the mind-set to buy a UHD TV but was introduced to an OLED, left with an OLED TV instead.

So what makes OLED TVs that special? During our trip, we managed to obtain a better understanding of the technology behind OLED. Here’s our takeaway:


1. OLEDs offer the deepest blacks

For the uninitiated, OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is a type of display technology made from organic compounds that light up individually when charged with electricity. Each pixel emits light on its own, which is unlike LED TVs where pixels are all lit up at the same time using a backlight. Because OLED pixels are self-emitting, they can be switched off individually and completely, creating true blacks.

Testing picture quality over at the LG Digital Park, the brand’s core research and development centre located at Pyeongtaek city.

But why the rah-rah over black? One of the main reasons for this is because vibrant hues become more vibrant against an absolute black screen. For another, you don’t get a cloudy, greyish hue in black scenes.

LG illustrated this perfectly when they placed an OLED TV and an LED TV next to each other:

Comparing an LED (left) with an OLED (right). Both TVs are by LG, but the differences in the black display are obvious.


2. OLED TVs are super slim

Because OLED TVs don’t require a backlight to work—unlike LED TVs—they can be made a lot slimmer, lighter and way more flexible.

LG’s Signature OLED W, a TV that is wallpaper thin.

In the recent CES 2018, LG revealed rollable OLED display panels. While there is still some way to making that a reality for consumer TV, we’re excited by the concept and can’t wait to see if LG will be making that happen soon.

This immense structure hung on the ceiling in Incheon Airport in Seoul is made up of OLED panels.


3. OLED TVs offer great viewing angles

Another great thing about OLED TVs are their viewing angles. There is virtually no picture quality loss even at extreme angles since the pixels essentially function as individuals, emitting their own light and colour. With LEDs that come with a backlight, the best viewing angle tends to come from the centre, with picture quality diminishing the further away from the midpoint.

No loss of picture quality there.

And while we’re on the topic of viewing angles, LG has told us they will stop producing curve OLEDs or curve TVs. The hype over these curve TVs a couple of years ago was driven by the claims that a curved screen would offer a better viewing experience. “But it wasn’t the case,” says Calvin. “We realised watching TV is a very communal activity. Making it curve just makes it anti-social,” says Calvin.


4. OLED TVs are a preparation for the future

All LG’s OLED TVs support 4K content. But for consumers, there isn’t a need to get OLED since most of the streaming content we have now aren’t really ready for that sort of technology.

Still it pays to be prepared. Already, Japan has plans underway to broadcast 4K content exclusively by the end of the year. While the rest of the world plays catch up, it might be useful to have the technology ready on hand when the time comes.

If you’ve missed part one of our press trip coverage where we talked about smart homes, check it out here.


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