Now please don’t get excited. There is little news in today’s entry except to confirm what I’ve been saying all along; OLED HDTVs remain off in the future. And the Sony OLED TV that is already on the market does not count because it is not HD, though its astronomical price alone would probably disqualify it.
So over the weekend news broke that LG announced plans to start shipping an OLED HDTV in November. Let’s look deeper. If it’s the same display as it demonstrated at CES last January (and there’s no reason to expect it to be different), it will have a Wide XGA resolution: 1366 by 768 pixels. That is enough pixels to show a 720p HD image, so it qualifies as an HDTV. However, keep in mind that this size display has an optimal viewing distance of just two feet. If you want to get one of these for your bedroom, you’ll want to mount it on your belly when you’re lying down, or else it will be too far away to see the detail. It’s a personal screen at best.
Another detail of the LG announcement is that these sets will be offered only in the Korean market starting in November, and there are no announced plans for other countries at this time. Don’t hold your breath for these to appear in the U.S., because the production volume will no doubt be very low initially just as is the case with the Sony product.
And finally, no mention has been made about the price, but I expect it to also be along the same lines as the Sony product. On a square inch basis, I’d expect these to cost something like 20 to 80 times more than a 42″ 1080p LCD HDTV. In other words, you’re going to really have to want one in order to pay the premium price.
There is no news about “full size” OLED TVs from LG: 30″ or larger. Company representatives are saying that there are no plans to bring them to market at this point, and I will be surprised to see anything this size before 2011 or 2012. OLED HDTVs do look wonderful, but they remain expensive to build and there are many material and production problems that remain to be solved. All the while, LCD production costs continue to fall, making it harder and harder for new technology to compete on a cost basis. OLED HDTVs are going to have a very difficult time coming to market.
UPDATE 9/3/09: LG has posted specifications for their 15″ OLED HDTV on their Web site. This confirms that the TV will have Wide XGA resolution: 1366 by 768 pixels. The same page also shows a product roadmap that includes larger than 30″ OLED HDTVs, starting sometime in 2011. Given the history of production of large OLED displays, I will not be surprised if that target date slips even further into the future.