Spend any time looking for a new TV these days, and you will run across the term “OLED.” It’s a fairly new technology, at least when it comes to HDTVs, and with all the other acronyms like LCD and LED floating around, you may not be sure what it means. Except you know it has something to do with the way that sceens operate and display images.
The potential of OLED is enormous. It represents a massive jump in technology destined to vastly improve TV screens within the next several years. If you want to know more about this technology, where it is available, and when it may become feasible to buy one, read on!
What is OLED? Is it Different From LED?
LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode, while (O)LED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. Now, this sounds like the the two technologies are very similar, but there is actually a world of difference between them.
Back LED technology was first being developed in the 1980s, scientists worked with small transistors, altering them so that they could turn electricity into light through a unique combination of doped silicon. Different compounds made the silicon emit different shades of light, and thus LED was born.
Fast forward a decade or so, and HDTV creators were able to make entire TV screens out of particles that changed their properties when hit by an electric current. They called it a Liquid Crystal Display, or LCD screen. The only problem was that LCD screens didn’t produce any light of their own, only the right crystal angles to make colors. They needed backlights. LED TVs are simply LCD TVs that use the highly efficient, long-lasting LEDs for backlights to the screen.
OLED screens take the game to a whole other level. They use organic compounds that allow those little diodes to emit different colors depending on what kind of electrical current they are hit with. In an OLED screen, every pixel is literally a tiny diode, emitting its own light. This means that there is absolutely no need for backlighting, and indeed a lot of the necessary components of old LCD screens are not necessary.
Why is OLED Such a Big Deal?
The technology has a vast number of advantages over traditional HD screens. The lack of backlighting makes contrasts much clearer, the innate light of the diodes makes the color a lot richer, and the high refresh rate makes movement and action much better. The uniform brightness makes the viewing angle much wider and more dependable, too.
There are also a ton of benefits to the new TVs themselves. When the screen is only made of diodes, it uses a lot less energy and can save people money in ongoing costs. The diode screens are also very thin and very lightweight, even compared to the thinnest LED TVs used today, which means that extra thin and even flexible screens are possible.
The only downside to this new technology (aside from the cost) is that some aspects, like lifespan, have not yet been proven, and there is a chance they will not last as long as LCD screens. Some cases of burn-in have also been reported in earlier models, but this is not expected to be nearly as big a problem as it is for plasma TVs.
Is This Technology Available for TVs Now?
OLED has been used in devices ever since the early 2000s, when developers started putting the technology into smartphones. For long time, however, making a screen large enough for a TV was difficult and not practical. Eventually technology improved, and by the early 2010s, OLED TVs were on the horizon. The first appeared in 2012 and 2013, and in 2014 commercial versions hit the market.
It will be several years before OLED TVs become commonplace in the market, but when they do, you can expect them to slowly take over.
How Much Do These TVs Cost?
For now? Too much. Prices start around $9,000 for the most basic, non-4K models from brands like Samsung and LG, with $15,000 common for better models and prices rising quickly from there. Most screen sizes are around 50 to 60 inches, with little variation. The big brands are also still experimenting with the best ways to use OLED technology.
However, the market is swiftly growing and in a few years all of this will change. Much like the move to LCD TVs, prices are only too high in the earliest stages of the product entry, and will rapidly fall in the near future. So keep an eye on the market and choose the right time to upgrade to this fantastic new screen type.
Photo Credit: LGEPR