Some in the industry think that Samsung showcased its 85-inch flexible LCD TV at CES 2014 because the Korean company hasn’t been able to mass-produce OLED TVs, stemming from problems with its RGB-OLED technology. Hence, Samsung is said to have tried to highlight large UHD displays instead of OLED panels.
According to industry sources in January 7, Samsung’s realization of its flexible TVs with LCD panels, as opposed to LG’s use of white OLED panels for its flexible TVs, indicates that LG’s W-OLED technology is superior to Samsung’s RGB-based technology in large OLED displays.
The W-OLED display technology involves stacking sub-pixels on top of one another. In comparison, the RGB technology is more difficult to achieve, since it requires placing each pixel next to one another. In addition, the W-OLED method can directly realize a white screen through a separate white pixel, reducing electricity consumption. The RGB technology, on the other hand, needs all RGB pixels to make a white screen.
The W-OLED method is more advantageous than the RGB technology in price. According to a report about the cost of production of OLED TVs released by market research firm NPD DisplaySearch in September of last year, the RGB method is more than twice as high as the W-OLED method in production cost. For example, US$7,300 (7.9 million won) is needed to produce a 55-inch OLED TV using the RGB method, while only US$3,600 (3.9 million won) is required for the W-OLED method.
Therefore, LG seemed to stay one step ahead of the competition for large OLED TV screen early last year. The W-OLED method appeared to be in a better position, owing to its easier realization. For instance, the firm unveiled a 55-inch OLED panel in early 2013, and a 77-inch OLED panel at the IFA 2013 in Germany in September of last year.
However, the competition became more fierce in the first half of last year, as Samsung revealed its 55-inch OLED display using the RGB method. With the rumor over an improvement in manufacturing yields emerging, the industry is paying attention to whether or not the competition between the two technologies will be more intense.
Observers say that commercialization of OLED panels with the RGB method will be difficult even after successful realization because of technological problems and costs.
An industry source said, “I don’t think that RGB-based OLED displays that are larger than 55 inches will have a competitive advantage due to high production costs. Technological problems certainly do not help, either.”
In response to the speculation surrounding its flexible LCD TVs, Samsung stressed that it used LCD displays for flexible TVs on purpose. The company said that the commercialization of LCD panels is easier than that of OLED displays, since it takes 3 to 5 years to perfect its OLED technology. An official at Samsung Display said, “I believe that we will be able to enhance the competitiveness of our OLED panels in the future, since the RGB method is getting better despite technical difficulties.”