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A post on the Electronista Web site from last Friday (January 27) talks about LG Display ramping up production of its 55-inch organic light-emitting diode (OLEDs) TVs his coming June, shooting for an overly ambitious 48,000 panels a month.

Given the current state of OLED science, that number is questionable. But there’s no harm in making that claim, as nobody has a 55-inch OLED TV available for retail anyway, and what finished products do make it to market are going to be very expensive anyway. Remember Sony’s XEL-1 OLED? An 11-inch OLED TV for $2500 that essentially burned out a month after you bought it?

So 48,000, or 24,000, or even 12,000 units shipped makes no difference. It will be a major coup if LG gets that many working units with minimal defects to market by year’s end.

The report, however, goes on to say “…While this isn’t being publicly shared or confirmed, LG Display could even supply Samsung with the 55-inch OLED panel for its Super OLED TV unveiled at the same show.”

And THAT is a wonderful piece of misinformation. If the reporter had taken the time to do some basic detective work at CES, he or she would have found out quite easily that LG’s OLEDs use a vastly different process than Samsung’s.

Specifically, LG Display (who manufactures the OLED panels) employs a process first developed by Kodak in the 1980s and refined in the 1990s – one that creates a white OLED emitter and employs secondary RGB color filters (plus an added white filter) to create a full color spectrum. Kodak and Sanyo showed this at InfoComm over ten years ago, and LG bought the Kodak patents and IP in December of 2009.

On the other hand, Samsung has traditionally employed a discrete red, green, and blue OLED matrix in its prototypes, and its Mobile Display division now has an agreement with DuPont to use the latter’s long-life solution-processed OLED compounds.

This information was readily available at the show, in particular at the LG Display suite in the Bellagio, and in the news media.
Given LG and Samsung’s recent public battles over passive vs. active 3D TV technology and a major name-calling contest over the same topic last year, it’s highly unlikely the two would collaborate on the next breakthrough in TV technology. There’s lots of bad blood between the Hatfields and McCoys!
So, next time you read a ‘scoop’ or exclusive on one of these sites, be skeptical. It may make for great press, but it ain’t necessarily true.

Repeat after me: "White OLED with RGBW filters..."


"...and RGB OLEDs with no color filters."

Posted by Pete Putman, January 30, 2012 1:32 PM

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About Pete Putman

Peter Putman is the president of ROAM Consulting L.L.C. His company provides training, marketing communications, and product testing/development services to manufacturers, dealers, and end-users of displays, display interfaces, and related products.

Pete edits and publishes HDTVexpert.com, a Web blog focused on digital TV, HDTV, and display technologies. He is also a columnist for Pro AV magazine, the leading trade publication for commercial AV systems integrators.