OLED: It’s an acronym you’ve probably heard before in reference to the highest-grade television sets on the market, but maybe you’re unsure exactly what it means and, more importantly, why it’s so important to home entertainment lovers. And, it is a crucial element in your new 4K Ultra HD TV.
In short: OLED truly is the next big thing in home entertainment and it’s finally at a price where the average consumer can buy one. As a matter of fact, merchants are currently pricing 4K UHD TVs and OLED at the same exact level as 1080p HD TVs. This is because 4K TVs are totally replacing 1080p HD TVs. Eventually, all house-holds will own a 4K Television. And, they will not have any regrets. Well, maybe one. They wish they would have purchased a 4K OLED TV a long time ago. Anyway, OLED offers better image quality (think blacker blacks and whiter whites), reduced power consumption and fast response times over traditional LED TVs.
So why doesn’t everyone own one? Because it was seriously expensive and for a very long time only two companies, LG and Panasonic, currently used the technology in their television panels. Things have changed now, though.
Sony, one of the initial pioneers of this technology, is getting back in the game in 2017 with its new Bravia A1E OLED. We currently own this TV and it is awesome!
But just what is OLED? Are they worth it? And what are the advantages of an OLED TV? These are some of the questions that consumers should be thinking about and asking themselves BEFORE they upgrade their television. TVs are big purchases! Therefore, you want to get it right. We, at 4KADVICE, want to help you make the right decision.
Read below to learn more about this latest technology:
What’s the difference between OLED and LCD/LED?
Everything. They might sound alike, but the processes are totally different.
OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode, with “organic” referring to the carbon film that sits inside the panel before the glass screen.
OLED panels emit their own light when an electric current is passed through, whereas cells in a LCD display require an external light source, like a giant backlight, for brightness.
This backlight is what separated LCD screens from their LED variants. A traditional LCD screen has a backlight (called a cold-cathode fluorescent light, or CCFL) which is uniform across the entire back of the screen. Yea, we know….this might be getting into a bit more detail than you want. But, we are here to educate for those who are interested.
This means that whether the image is black or white, it is being lit by exactly the same brightness across the panel. This reduces what we call “hotspots,” or areas of super bright light, because the actual light source illuminating them is uniform. Pretty cool, huh? As long as it makes a great picture image to watch, right!
This all started a few years back when engineers at companies like Samsung and Sony introduced an array of LEDs as a backlight, which meant that if a certain part of the screen was black then those LEDs behind that portion could be turned off to make it appear blacker. And, it works. Because blacks were blacker and whites were much whiter.
This is a better solution than a CCFL backlight, but it still has its problems. Since it’s a light behind the LCD producing the illumination rather than the LCD layer itself, the illumination is not entirely in-sync with the pixel in front of it. The result is an effect called ‘blooming’, whereby LED light from bright portions of the image bleeds over into areas of blackness.
NOTE: This is what separates OLEDs from LCD/LED displays. In an OLED display, the pixels themselves are the things producing the light, and so when they need to be black they are able to turn off completely, rather than relying on a backlight to turn off on their behalf.
What are the advantages of OLED?
The result is remarkably dark blacks in an image, and when you combine this with the brightness of the whites, an OLED panel is able to produce a vibrant, stunning image.
SONY, LG and Panasonic, are basically the only two consistent producers of OLED televisions on the planet. You can shop for these televisions on Amazon where you will find the largest selection at the lowest prices. Currently Amazon has major sales on 4K OLED TVs which are 2016 models. They are getting rid of stock and dropping prices drastically to do so. A 2017 4K TV model is no different than a 2016 model. Therefore, you may as well enjoy the cost savings of a 2016 model. You will not regret it.
The advantages of OLED go beyond simple static image quality to the responsiveness and smoothness of the display itself. This meaning gamers and home cinema thrillers are going to absolutely love OLED. It is capable of a refresh rate of as low as 0.001ms, which for reference, is around 1,000 times faster than a standard LED-backlit LCD panel, while also being superior to the now-discontinued plasma tech, too. Plasma ended back in 2012 around the time that 4K TVs were introduced. They knew they could NOT compete with a 4K display.
And, because the lighting source they use is so tiny, the depth of screen sizes has shrunk at the same rate. That means OLED TVs have awesomely deep blacks and bright, peak whites, improved color accuracy as well as smooth responsive motion – and all from a form factor that’s just a few millimetres in depth and much lighter than standard TVs. Therefore, OLED TVs can be slimmer and lighter than any other television on the market. You can hand them anywhere and they only require one person to carry.
Which OLED TVs are out now?
OLED TVs have been on the market since 2012, and a variety of manufacturers have tackled the technology over the years. It used to be the case that OLED’s were produced by just Samsung and LG, but Samsung dropped the technology over its cost and how difficult it was to produce, and has no intention of restarting production any time soon.
LG has been releasing OLED sets consistently over the last few years, and in 2016 introduced four product lines – the G6, E6, C6 and B6 – featuring OLED panels. We have depicted them below for you.
The LG OLED G6
The LG OLED E6
The LG OLED C6
The LG OLED B6
In 2017, LG will have five different models of OLED –the G7, E7, C7, B7 and the all-new OLED W7 that features an impossibly slim screen and Dolby Atmos soundbar.
And now, thankfully, LG isn’t completely alone in the market. At last year’s IFA, Panasonic announced its first OLED set, the TX-65CZ950, and we’ve been impressed by the other sets in its lineup thus far. We are excited to see what 2017 brings. Who would have ever thought that we would see a TV picture image get much better than 1080p High Definition?
Last but not least, there’s the new (old?) contender:Sony’s Bravia A1E OLED, which looks simply incredible! And, it is just that. The picture image is stunning and we recommend this television more than any other. BEWARE: We might be a bit partial since this is the exact TV that we own and watch every night.
Can OLED do 3D?
SONY, LG and Panasonic all include 3D as a feature in their 2016/2017 OLED sets, and in most cases this is 3D of the passive variety, which means cheaper glasses and less screen flicker.
The downside of passive 3D is the drop in resolution you’ll experience, but thankfully with almost all of the OLED sets now featuring a 4K Ultra HD display this is less of a cause for concern than it once was.
With that being said, LG did tell us that they do not plan on including 3D in 2017 models. Oh well, if you are a fan of 3D just shop for Sony or Samsung on Amazon. Forget LG.
How much do OLED TVs cost?
OLED TVs are far cheaper than they use to be. Prices are just about affordable for any budget. The prices of LGs sets start at $1,500 in the US and £1,400 in the UK, and Panasonic’s are more expensive. SONY prices start at about $1,200 depending on display size. Again, we highly recommend shopping on Amazon and using our link to get you there. This would help to support our site and keep us going. We are in the business of providing an education to all consumers about this new 4K technology.
The scarcity of OLED TVs on the market means that those small number of players in the market are more or less free to charge exactly what they want. However, manufacturers have recently agreed to set prices at levels closer to what a 1080p HD TV would sell for. This is because 4K TVs (including 4K OLED TVs) are completely replacing 720 and 1080p HD TVs. Eventually, all homes will own a 4K television.
This may take years to happen depending on the age of your current 720 or 1080p HD TV. For those who need to upgrade their television now, will be shopping for a new 4K TV. It is unlikely that consumers will buy another 1080p HD TV since 4K TVs are available and priced about the same. It might even be foolish to buy another 1080p HD TV when you can purchase a TV that is FOUR times better in picture image for a similar price.
What’s the future for OLED?