OLED TV: More Mixed Messages

Who knows what to believe? As I made the rounds of the various booths in the exhibit hall at SID 2009 in San Antonio three weeks ago, I found it difficult to get anyone to talk about OLED TV production plans. The few comments I got ranged from non-committal to a flat out “we haven’t made any announcements“. Discussing the issue with a range of sources leads me to believe that it is unlikely that any OLED HDTVs will appear on the market before 2010, and 2012 is a much more likely date.

Last week, OLED-Info.com posted an interview with Mr Won Kim, Vice Presideont of OLED Sales and Marketing from LG Display. Here’s a quote from the interview:

Q: You have been showing a 15″ OLED TV prototype since the beginning of 2009… and you said it can begin production by June 2009. Which is now.. will you start making these panels? Or are you still waiting for a customer?
During the period of Dec 2009-Jan 2010, our customer will launch 15″ OLED TV in Korean market. Thereafter global roll-out follows.

This is a surprise compared with the information I was hearing earlier in the month. The quote does not indicate whether the TV will have HD resolution; the Sony 11-inch XEL-1 does not, but the 15″ panel that LG demonstrated at CES last January had a WXGA resolution (1366 by 768 pixels) which means that it can show 720p images without scaling. So if that is the panel that will be used in this product, it would be a 720p HDTV and the first OLED HDTV on the market.

I have to say that I’m still skeptical about this interview statement, and I won’t be the least surprised if January 2010 comes and goes and there still is no OLED HDTV on the market. There are still a number of technology issues to be worked out before OLED is ready for a long duty cycle device such as a television. For now, the technology is well suited for small mobile devices like cell phones and personal media players, but I don’t expect large format, high resolution devices to show up on the market at reasonable prices and large quantities any time soon.