OLED TV vs Laser TV

Both OLED and laser TVs are emerging technologies. They are however very different both as technologies as well as to whom they are targeted at. In the future OLED is going to replace current flat-panel TVs like LCD and plasma. Laser TVs are going to replace current rear-projection TVs like DLP. Both OLED TV and laser TV picture quality is superb and promises to deliver more awesomeness than LCD, plasma, DLP and other current display technologies.

Targeted at Different Types of Consumers

Maybe I should have said “targeted at different needs”, but I think there’s a very strong connection between the consumers and their needs. OLED TVs are currently available only in a small screen size for the consumer; larger prototypes while existing being unavailable to the consumer. At the opposite side, laser TV comes in a mighty size. And, it also offers great picture quality while costing less than the tiny OLED. That means, at this point if you have the money, the laser TV actually makes sense while the OLED is just for show-offs who want to impress. We’ll continue with this in the next section, though. What I want to point out right now, is that OLEDs will be more like current flat-panels. They will cover sizes from small to average (up to 50 – 60 inch). Laser TVs, being similar to rear-projection TVs will cover the need for large screens (over 60 inch). Fortunately, laser TVs will not have the downside of poorer picture quality as current DLPs when compared to flat-panels. So, you don’t have to trade quality for size.

Laser TV is Already Here

That’s how things look now. In a couple of years, OLED is going to be available in larger sizes too, though not as large as a laser TV. Some think that one day, OLED displays will be the size of a wall – much like in that movie with Schwarzenegger on Mars, or like the screen on Enterprise. However, keeping our heads in the present and near future, laser TVs are here and they are worth your money. OLEDs don’t offer much value at this moment in time though.

OLED TV vs Plasma TV

There are both similarities between OLD and plasma TVs, as well as differences. Currently, plasma TVs offer superb picture quality, are available in large screen sizes and have good prices. OLED being an emerging technology, while it outperforms plasma television in the picture quality department, it is not available in large sizes and costs a lot. Also, at this point the OLED TV lifespan is much shorter than that of a plasma TV. Specialists are working on this though, and in a couple of years we can expect OLED to have a similarly long lifespan as a plasma TV.

Because of the fact OLED TVs are not mass produced at this point, and because OLED is not a mature technology, we will approach this OLED vs Plasma discussion from a slightly theoretical perspective. There’s no point in comparing the existing displays of each technology, as currently there is no real market for OLED or enough OLED displays to base our comparison upon. So we will discuss from a technological perspective, comparing the technologies instead of actual displays. We will of course, present pertinent data where available.

OLED vs Plasma Lifespan

Plasma TVs have a lifespan of around 60,000 hours. That is a lot of time. OLED on the other hand, has a very short lifespan at this point. The organic particles, especially for the blue phosphors, are to blame for this. At the beginning they ware lasting just a few seconds, consuming themselves completely in this short time span. Great improvements have been made to the OLED technology and specialists are working round the clock to develop long lasting organic particles for the OLED displays. At this point, the lifespan of the particles that generate blue color is the shortest, measuring just a few thousand hours. By the time OLED TVs will approach the prices of current popular displays like plasma and many OLED TVs will hit the market, we think their lifespan will be comparable with that of current plasma TVs.

Refresh Rate

OLED has a better refresh rate than plasma, which at this point has the best refresh rate of any flat-panel HDTV. That means both OLED and plasma are able to display a crisp picture even in the case of fast moving scenes. The fact the OLED has a better refresh rate than plasma has no real-life practical advantage, the refresh rate of both displays being too high for us to discern any differences.

Viewing Angle

The viewing angles of both OLED and plasma are great, allowing you to watch them from a side without noticing any color alteration. Both technologies implement the pixels as light emitting sources and because of that the picture will remain of high quality no matter what angle you are watching from (both horizontally and vertically).

Black Levels

At this point plasma TVs have the best black levels of any HDTV. They come very close to absolute blacks. OLED TVs are also able to reproduce very deep blacks and by the time they will be mass marketed, they will probably be able to produce absolute blacks. Note that while the best performing plasma TVs have exceptional black levels, not all perform this good. The black levels help the HDTVs produce very punchy colors, improving the contrast and making the whole picture look more vivid.

Power Consumption

Power consumption is an area where OLED is expected to outperform any other type of display. Today’s flat-panel TVs, plasma included, are real power hogs. Their power consumption can go above 500W. OLED on the other hand, will consume much less energy. At this moment OLED displays are successfully being used in mobile devices (phones, PDAs, etc.) due to their low power consumption and exceptional picture quality.

Burn-In

Plasma TVs suffered greatly in their early days from this problem. Today the top models are burn-in resistant (not burn-in proof though) and this is no longer a serious problem. OLED, using a similar approach to producing light – phosphors that fire up to produce light – are also theoretically predisposed to burn-in. We’ll have to wait and see how resistant they will prove to be to this problem.

Screen Sizes

Plasma TVs are not being produced in small sizes. Smallest size of a plasma display is 42 inch. OLED, on the other hand can be easily manufactured in small sizes without any technical or economical impediments. OLED displays are already being used in cell phones and PDAs, the problem with them at this moment, being with larger sizes not with small ones. For now it is not reliable to manufacture OLED screens of large sizes, but this will change in a few years and we expect them to be available in sizes comparable with current plasma displays.

OLED TV vs LCD TV

They are very different technologies. The technological differences between OLED and LCD TVs being more than those between OLED and plasma TVs. First of all, OLED displays produce light while LCD TVs block light. This fundamental difference determines many of the characteristics and performances of the two types of displays. LCD doesn’t offer the best picture quality being outrun by a mile by plasma TV. It does offer however more flexibility in how you can use it and it is available in small sizes too. OLED is already offering superb picture quality – much better than the one seen in an LCD – and at the same time it offers the flexibility of an LCD. In a way it seems to take the advantages from both plasma and LCD while trying to eliminate their disadvantages.

Lifespan

LCD TVs as well as plasma TVs have a lifespan of around 60,000 hours. At this point OLED TVs are way behind, offering a much shorter life of only a few thousand hours. The organic compounds used in OLED displays are to blame for this short life. Considering that at the beginning their lifespan was just a few seconds and that scientists are continuously working to improve it, we can expect that in the future the OLED TV lifespan will be just as long.

Refresh Rate

LCD TVs have always suffered from a poor refresh rate. Because of this, fast moving images like the ones in sports or action movies looked blurry on the edges, some people even pointing out that the phenomenon generates headaches after long periods of time. OLED on the other hand has exceptional refresh rates, such problems as the ones present in LCDs not making themselves seen on OLED. That means, no matter what content you watch, the picture will be crisp and clear.

Viewing Angle

Another aspect that affects the picture quality of LCD TVs is the narrow viewing angle. If you watch an LCD directly from its front side it will look good, but once you move and watch from an angle you will notice the colors changing and the overall picture quality being affected. This is not a problem with OLED which has very wide viewing angles, its picture not being altered when watching from a side.

Black Levels

LCD TVs have always suffered from poor black levels in contrast to plasma TVs that always lead in this area. OLED TVs are technologically very similar to plasma TVs. The black levels of OLED displays are exceptional. This makes the picture really pop, enhancing the colors and the overall picture quality. LCD TVs produce the picture by blocking or allowing light to pass from the light source behind the LCD display. No matter what manufacturers have done, some of that light still manages to pass through even when the pixels should be black. OLED on the other hand works by generating light (in a way similar to plasma). That means if a pixel has to be black it can be black, or at least close enough to black to seem absolutely black. Though, some of the new LED TV models from the high-end series, manage to perform as well as plasma TVs in this area, they suffer from relatively poor viewing angles. In other words, overall they are still not better. Naturally, the gap is even bigger between LCD TV and OLED TV.

Picture Uniformity

OLED TVs have superb uniformity, colors, shades and gradients remaining uniform across the whole screen no matter what you are watching or from what angle. LCD flat-panels, suffering from narrower viewing angles and not only because of that, sometimes have less accurate uniformity, their picture presenting slight variations across the screen. Many high-end LCD models from top manufacturers manage to go around this problem and present very good uniformity, but once you look at middle-end or entry-level models, you will notice uniformity problems.

Power Consumption

One of the significant advantages of OLED vs. LCD and other types of televisions is their low power consumption. Moderns LCD TVs can consume over 500W of electrical power. OLED on the other hand, is a greener technology with much improved power consumption.

Burn-In

Burn-in was a problem with older plasma TVs. While latest plasma TV models are burn-in resistant, they still get burn-in if abused. LCD TVs have absolutely no burn-in problem. The LCD screen does not generate light and it isn’t using phosphors. Because of that there is no way that an LCD could develop burn-in. This resistance to burn-in makes LCD displays suitable for computer monitors as opposed to plasma TVs. OLED is in a way comparable to plasma. It actively generates light through its light emitting organic compounds. That means, theoretically OLED could develop burn-in. At this point, due to the fact there are very few OLED displays to test, we have no pertinent information to confirm or infirm the possibility of burn-in on OLED. Considering however that OLED has been used for quite a while for phone and PDA screens, we are inclined to think that OLED is much more resistant to burn-in than plasma displays. Maybe when OLED will become popular in a few years, and more OLED TV models will be available on the market, they will even prove themselves burn-in proof.

Sizes and Flexibility

Another area where OLED displays really shine. We expect them to be at least as flexible as LCD displays. LCD displays offer great flexibility being available in sizes from a few inches to as much as 60 inch for consumer models, and up to 100 inches for prototypes. At this point small OLED displays are common, scientists working on improving the technological process in order to be able to manufacture large screens without risking poor quality. We are sure they will succeed to come up with large OLED screens in a couple of years. OLED are also flexible in a literal way. They can be bent. There have been a few demonstrations where OLED displays ware bent without being damaged.

OLED TV Manufacturers

Sony gave the lead, manufacturing the first OLED TV available to consumers. At this point, they are the only brand offering this type of display to consumers. Sony is putting a significant amount of resources into OLED technology, trying to stay ahead of the other manufacturers. They currently build high-quality LCD TVs (some of the best on the market) and soon they will mass produce the next best display technology – OLED.

Samsung comes fast from behind. They lacked the initiative but that doesn’t mean they want to miss the opportunity OLED is offering. Samsung already presented what we can consider large screens – two OLED TV prototypes, one measuring 17 inch and the other 40 inch. Samsung’s technology is different though, in a way resembling LCD technology. Their OLED prototypes have a white light emitter and a color filter as opposed to Sony displays that uses red, green and blue sub-pixels to produce colors and light.

While Sony and Samsung seem to lead the way, other manufacturers also present interest in OLED. Among them are Phillips, LG and Matsushita which is behind Panasonic (one of the top plasma TV manufacturers). About Pioneer, the manufacturer that produces best plasma TVs on the market at this point, we don’t know much. Their plasma TVs are not too far behind current OLED TVs in terms of picture quality so maybe they are not in a hurry to jump the OLED wagon as others do. Only time will tell for sure, though.