Do Not Adjust Your Set: The Problem With OLED (TVs)
As promising a technology as OLED is, it's not without its problems. This is something the tech media has picked up on as of late, and rightfully so. However, many of the problems they see with OLEDs are specific to just one product: televisions. Over at CNET, Ty Pendlebury took an in-depth look at some the issues related to these super-expensive products. We wanted to share two of his concerns in particular and explain why these issues do not encompass every OLED product. Let's take a look:
1. They're expensive, and might not get cheaper very quickly Even with a surprising price drop at official launch, Samsung's S9 OLED still busts the bank at $8,999. As of the time of writing, LG's 55EM9800 is even more ludicrous at $14,999. While LG's TV came out in July, the fact that it was first to market is mitigated by the huge price difference. Don't surprised if LG matches Samsung's price soon.
By way of comparison, our favorite 55-inch plasma for picture quality, the Panasonic TC-P55VT60, costs $2,700. The best-performing 55-inch LED LCD we've tested this year, Sony's KDL-55W900A, is $2300.
It's true that new technologies start out expensive and then become cheaper as demand and the ability to supply increases. In less than a year since their debut, 4K LED LCD TVs have dropped rapidly in price, especially when you consider Chinese brands and even some price slashing by the likes of Sony and LG.
But OLED is a lot tougher to manufacture than LED LCD. Given the problems associated with making OLEDs, it's hard to say when they'll become affordable enough to recommend. Two years? Five? We just can't say.
We can't promise an affordable OLED TV - nor can we give it a timeframe - but we can promise affordable OLED products. And the best part? They'll be available in April/May of this year! Here's another one of his concerns:
5. OLED is an immature technology While this is hardly the first generation of OLED displays in general, it's still a fledgling compared with mature LCD and plasma technologies.
Two problems facing mainstream OLED production are the relative lifespan of the "blue" pixel, and a relatively low yield. Compared to the red and green pixels, the blue pixel is much less efficient -- with studies saying it is as low as 4 percent while the other two are as high as 20 percent, according to Digital Trends. The blue pixel may also reduce your display's life with older research of the Sony XEL-1 suggesting after only 1,000 hours of use the display had dimmed by 12 percent. It's probable that the technology has improved since but no company is quoting any numbers.
Low yield refers to the fact that for every OLED TV that manages to make it onto store shelves, a relatively high number of panels have to be scrapped as defective. According to DisplaySearch as of December 2012 yields were as low as 10 percent. However Samsung, for its part, claims a recent, unspecified improvement in yield is the reason it dropped the price of its first OLED by $6000. By no means does this indicate the yield problem is "solved" because until it is, OLED will remain a niche product.
Neither company has published an official lifespan for its new OLED TVs. However, both the LG and Samsung OLED sets come with a 12 month warranty.
Again, here's where our OLED products differ from the OLED TVs: We've published the lifetime duration for all of our products. See for yourself.
Are OLEDs perfect? No, at least not yet, but they are affordable and they are going to mainstream sooner than most people realize.