4K UHD TV interest causing an OLED rethink

18 Jun 2013

Samsung S9 4K TV

Korean press reports says Samsung is set to launch its first 55in OLED TV within the next couple of weeks, some six months behind rival LG.

But sources close to the company suggest the new technology, once heralded as the immediate future of TVs thanks to its light weight, high quality and slim screens, may be on the back burner for now, as Samsung concentrates on 4K TV using existing LED-lit LCD displays, such as its flagship S9 model (above).

MORE: Sony 4K TV review

Quoted in Korea's JoongAng Ibo newspaper, the source says that the company is less than worried by the much-delayed launch of OLED TVs, originally expected last year in time for the London 2012 Olympics.

Samsung 55in OLED TV

The technology missed that slot, and some industry commentators even speculated that Samsung wouldn't even launch OLED screens this year, due to the enormous problems in making the displays, and the impact of low production yields on the cost of the panels, and thus the profitability of TVs using them.


Now it seems it's due to launch its first real commercial OLED TV within weeks; the super-thin 'next generation' LG OLED TV is already on sale – or at least taking pre-orders for delivery from next month.

However, the Samsung source told the JoongAng Ibo 'We do not put a big significance on the timing of OLED TV release.

'It is meaningless to concentrate on OLED TVs when UHD TVs are doing so well - especially given that the production yield for OLED TVs has been unsatisfactory, the product won’t turn a profit and won’t likely satisfy customers.'

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It seems the success of UHD (or 4K) TVs, seen by many as a stopgap measure while manufacturers got to grips with OLED technology, has taken the big TV companies somewhat by surprise.

Despite the initial comments of Samsung's consumer electronics boss Yoon Boo-keun, who dismissed rival LG's launch of an 84in UHD TV by saying that 4K 'has no value without content that meets the screen quality', the JoongAng Ibo's Samsung source says that the company's focus has shifted from OLED to UHD TVs for the time being.

Samsung S9 Vegas

What's more, having rolled out UHD TV with demonstrations of 85in, 95in and 110in models at the CES 2013 show in Las Vegas in January, including its much-discussed 'easel'-style S9 models, Samsung has since canned the larger screens, and introduced 55in and 65in models, citing low demand for the really enormous screens.

The company says its 85in model, despite carrying a price-tag of some £35,000, is proving hugely popular in China and the Middle East.


Market analyst DisplaySearch, having initially predicted worldwide UHD TV sales of just 90,000 units this year, revised its estimate up by more than an order of magnitude to 930,000 units. GfK estimates UHD TVs could sell as many as 2.3m units worldwide this year.

LG has suggested OLED TV will ship as many as 700,000 units in 2014, and grow to 3m units in 2015, accounting for around 1% of the TV market, but DisplaySearch has just reduced its earlier estimate of 1.8m OLED TV sales next year: it now says only 300,000 OLED sets will be sold worldwide in 2014.

That brings it in line with another market analyst, iSuppli, which says it estimates just 1600 OLED TVs will be sold globally this year, and 200,000 next year.

Lux Research is even more pessimistic, expecting OLED to shift just 7000 TVs next year, despite LG's KRW706bn (almost £440m) investment in a new plant to make the screens, said to have a capacity of almost two million 55in panels per year.

Lux says the plans are 'intended to make the companies look innovative in the volatile and perception-driven world of consumer electronics, and do not reflect the current state of the technology.'

DisplaySearch agrees with the problems of OLED production: it expects yields – currently around 10%, meaning nine out of ten panels produced get junked – will improve, but that OLED screens will still be much more expensive than their LED-lit LCD equivalents.

It estimates the current manufacturing cost of a 55in OLED panel to be $2454 – around £1570, or almost 6x that of an LCD panel of the same size.

While this may fall to just over S1500 (about £960) next year, as production yields improve, that will still be almost 5x the price of an LCD screen.

Written by Andrew Everard

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4K is almost completely pointless. Actually, it IS pointless for the mass market!

What the mass market actually WANTS is to be able to watch

true 1080 content, broadcast at a high enough bitrate to actually make it look better than good quality SD.

Until that reasonable target is achieved (will it ever be?) 4K is the same idiotic waste of money as 3D.



Quote; "I wonder in what way would OLED "not satisfy customers"? 

It probably Would but 4K is better  ?

I'd imagine that 4K will BE the way forward and not OLED TV.

Time will tell I suppose ?

Already started to save for my 4K TV.

OLEDS  from LG and Samsung are coming now as we speak....no more wait. Panasonic can take upto 2015 to launch theirs.It is THE greatest time for TV is upon us.

But you just need at least 7k for a 55 inch and live in Korea,China, Russia or Bankrupt USA to get your hands on one. NO POINT IN RELEASING IT HERE IN THE UK. The crowds here hardcore crowd   just want to talk about plasmas and live in a dark room all day  and night to watch blacks levels on their sets on Blu Ray?  You can't play games on plasmas for long periods incase you damage them - a major disadvantage and clearly no more R and D is needed on an over engineered product. 

But Once you get one of these OLED in front of your eyes, you will be release from the old attachments, stop talking  the bedlam talk and all the apocalytic drivel negative analysis on OLED will end - just start watching like when you first open your eyes and marvel at the colours on display.   

No need to feel threaten by OLED...but many are.

This is the defining moment on ultimate viewing experience heaven and will not be topped. OLED will and just like LED have long life and a long innings at the crease!

I would imagine that the "OLED would not satisfy customers" comment refers to the cost of the technology if they brough it to market, which would most liekly be unattractive compared to a conventional tech. 

Which would you buy (room size permitting)? A 55in OLED 1080p screen or spend far less on say, an 84in 4K LED display?



"Success, interest"?! Me thinks you greatly exaggerate.

There just may be a glimmer of hope for 4K when there is a plethora of genuine 4K media (not upscaled HD) and live UHD TV channels. OLED HD TVs will be derigeur as soon as the prices drop.

Meanwhile, 4K will join the immense popularity of 3D.

If the picture is so much better than 1080p is not the picture better than real life?

i sometimes study pictures in 1080p and start looking around the house to see if life is really that sharp and its questionable at times

The cross roads....and crisis of confidence in the TV industry....obviously not good for consumer and TV makers alike.

1080p LED and Plasma development has maxed out! The law of diminishing returns is upon us! There is no point even to think of upgrading on the same tech in the next five years. 

When you cannot evol' you revol'. Oled is the revolution but the wheels aren't turning fast enough.It is also unaffordable to be profitable in the short term.

The industry has to give us something to keep dead man walking!

4k is the filler from now till Oled decide to roll off the production line. What other option is there?

Do I want another 1080p TV that does what my last year 1080p did and spend another 2.5K and call it a New TV. No.

 If we didn't buy though because we are bored of the same then industry is then screwed even more.


How pointless are the 4K tvs right now though!

Unless they are going to find a way to provide content in native 4K what is the point in owning one? To date absolutely no one has been able to answer that question, there are no plans for 4K discs that I know of so no commercially available material in 4K will be available if you buy one.

Utter tosh and completely pointless if you ask me.

jacobmorrison wrote:
I wonder in what way would OLED "not satisfy customers"?

It was implied that the source thought the quality wasn't up to snuff just yet.

Expect to be bombarded with ads over the next 2 years about how 4K is at least 3 times better than Full HD because it's easier to market products when their performance is quantifiable by numbers.  It helped Epson to sell printers with a higher DPI than HP, and Canon to sell cameras with higher megapixels. It's a numbers game.

Let's be honest, this is the big TV manufacturers saying we're skint, we can't afford to make OLED, so here's something even better that's cheap to make, uses existing tech, it's easy to flog, and if you're lucky you'll still be alive by the time 4K is the new broadcast standard. 

I wonder in what way would OLED "not satisfy customers"? 

Yep, just thinking it is a shame they are not on sell too.

gel wrote:
I definitely find the ladies more attractive.

Does it feel better now you've shared that with the room? Wink

I definitely find the ladies more attractive.