No OLED TV For You!

When it comes to OLED HDTVs, I’m as big a cheerleader as you’ll find. What’s not to love? They have super-thin panels, the emissive technology looks better than a CRT, and it has none of the problems faced by plasma and LCD panels, such as image retention or motion blur. There’s just one small problem; OLEDs cost too much to make.

So it came as little surprise (but still a bucket of cold water) when friend and colleague Steve Sechrist reported in Insight Media’s Display Daily last week that a Samsung VP announced that the company would not be releasing any OLED TVs until the prices come down to a competitive level.

Which might mean “never“.

Look at the Sony XEL-1; the first commercial OLED TV is about 1/16th the size of a 42″ flat panel display, yet costs at least 2.5 times as much. And it’s not even HD. So even if they cut three-quarters of the price, it will still cost 10 times as much as an equivalent LCD or plasma. And keep in mind that prices for LCD and plasma are likely to continue to drop, so “competitive pricing” is going to continue to be a moving target.

At the moment, it doesn’t appear that anyone has the resources to get large OLED panels to parity with LCD or plasma any time soon. It is to Samsung’s credit that they have finally stopped promising us with delivery “next year”. For now, we’ll have to be content with small format OLED displays made for mobile devices like cell phones and personal media players, where they can compete more effectively with LCD panels.