OLED technology has been hailed for a couple years now as the future of digital display. OLED and its various derivatives have managed to live up to some of this hype in the mobile electronics market, but in the TV and display market they remain a rare and seldom seen species. In fact, to date only one manufacturer -- Sony -- has launched an OLED TV. And Sony's 11-inch XEL1 was a wallet-breaker priced at $2,500.
Now LG is set to also jump into the nascent OLED market. It may also manage to steal the size crown from Sony, unleashing a 15" OLED set onto the market. The set will begin shipping in December, according to an interview with Won Kim, LG's VP of OLED sales and marketing.
The set is expected to match the capabilities of the prototype unit, first unveiled in January. The prototype sported a fancy 1,000,000:1 contrast (same as XEL1), a 1,366 x 768 pixel resolution (better than XEL1), and a 30,000-hour shelf life (much better than XEL1, which degrades after 1,000 hours). It is also expected to be ultra-thin (the XEL1 is just 3mm thin).
The set will first launch in LG's home nation -- South Korea. Then it will slowly make its way to Japan and possibly the U.S., though no official launch date has been aired for these nations. The price is expected to be very high. There's also no word yet on the production numbers (Sony's XEL1 production has been relatively low with production, in the thousands).
However, LG isn't the only competitor with OLED launch plans for late this year or early next. Samsung says it has 14.1" and 31" displays "ready for production". The displays use a Fine Metal Mask (FMM) technology to achieve larger sizes or better character in smaller displays.
The 14.1" display is aimed at the laptop market and offers 1366x768 resolution, 200cd brightness, color gamut of 107% NTSC and a 1,000,000:1 contrast. It'd be perfect for pricey high-end laptops like the Voodoo Envy or the MacBook Air as it's only 2.7mm wide and likely will be ridiculously expensive to boot.
The 31" set is set to enter the TV sector and will likely be even more expensive. Similar to its prototype showcased over a year ago, it is a bit thicker at 8.9mm. It offers an impressive FHD (1920x1080) image, 200cd brightness, color gamut of 107% NTSC and a 1,000,000:1 contrast.
Samsung, however, has offered no clue when the upcoming "production" might start or when it will actually be arriving on the market. LG may be able to get the jump on Samsung, but look for Samsung to storm in early next year or even surprise with a launch late this year. Another X-factor is Sony. Sony has said it also is ready to produce larger sets, and has speculated in the past that it will launch them late this year or early next.