OLED TV – Should I buy one?
OLED TV – what is it anyway? What’s so good about it? Why should I spend $7k on a TV when there are the same size LED TVs from the same manufacturer for half the price?
These are the most common questions a lot of our customers ask us, and are also asked of salespeople in stores when confronted by this dazzling (relatively) new technology called OLED.
OLED TVs are expensive, but just like every second phase and onwards of a new technology - that's beginning to change. Which means that big screen UHD OLED TVs are starting to nudge the price point where many discerning customers will begin to ask – is it really worth me splashing out on this?
Let’s try and answer that question without too much confusion, by outlining some of the key features and benefits of OLED TV.
Question 1 – What is it?
OLED televisions have one very important difference over LED TVs, which is their screens don't use a backlight. Every other LED / LCD TV screen on the market uses either backlit LED panels, or Edge-Lit LED panels, which means the picture is “lit-up” from behind or from the edges of the screen. This technology allows super bright image reproduction, and big screens can be produced relatively cheaper when compared to a similar sized OLED TV.
OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode, referring to a carbon-based organic film which is sandwiched in between a pair of conductors, and when electricity is passed through it – It emits its own light. This is different from thee way and LED / LCD TV works – because the pixels in an LCD / LED display are not capable of producing their own light, hence the need for a backlight to light up the screen.
OLED pixels are self-emissive and generate their own light.
Video Courtesy of CNET.COM
Question 2 – What is the benefit of this?
Because OLED TV technology can produce near perfect blacks, this obviously results in a fantastic contrast, which allows us to experience the finest details in darker scenes, highlights and shadows. In an OLED display, because the pixels are producing their own light, when the image needs to be black they are able to turn off completely, as opposed to relying on a backlight to turn off behind the panel.
The way the pixels of OLED work also means they practically eradicate motion blur, which can still be an issue with almost all good mid-range LCD / LED TVs. OLED TVs are capable of a refresh rate of as low as 0.001ms – or around 1,000 times faster than a standard LED-backlit LCD panel. The very best top of the line LED TVs will struggle against an OLED in these two key areas.
Because OLED pixels emit light directly - the viewing angles are also much improved. Colour, contrast and hence image quality remain the same from very, very wide angles.
Quite simply put – the key benefit of an OLED TV is superb picture quality, unrivalled colour reproduction with reduced motion blur and superior viewing angles. Not bad advantages to have!
Question 3 – Are there any disadvantages?
With any technology, there are bound to be some trade-offs, and OLED TV has a couple of disadvantages over LED / LCD TVs. One obvious disadvantage is the price – while starting to fall into affordable territory, they still sit at a much higher price point than LED / LCD TVs.
Also, the array of brightly lit LEDs behind a traditional LED panel can result in a much brighter image. So while OLED TVs can produce stunning colours and contrast, they aren’t as bright as LED and probably won’t perform as well if your room is brightly lit.
There has also been some discussion of the longevity of OLED TV technology. The materials which make up an OLED TV have a fixed lifespan. There has been talk of a life span somewhere between 20,000 to 50,000 hours, but as yet there is no real concrete evidence of life span in a normal viewing environment.
Even so, let’s assume an OLED TV will have a minimum of 20,000 hours’ life. This works out to be about 11 years at 5 hours viewing per day. For the average viewer, this will not be much of an issue, as 5 to 7 years would be considered a reasonable life to most people. But you might not want OLED if you plan on running your display in a business for example, or in a continuously running POS system.
Question 4 – Should I buy one?
Well, the best answer I can give you is that if your budget allows you to purchase an OLED TV screen in the size you are after, then it’s a resounding YES.
As we touched on in the paragraph above, there are certain disadvantages, but if I had to pick a situation where I wouldn’t recommend an OLED TV, it would be if you watch TV in a very brightly lit room. The longevity issue is debatable, and assuming we are talking about recommending an OLED TV for a customer in a normal home viewing environment, then this wouldn’t be too much cause for concern.
If the answer came down purely to performance, then an OLED TV would be the connoisseur’s choice. LED / LCD TVs have never looked as perfect when displaying blocks of colour, or when they’re showing an entirely black screen, or super-fast motion. OLED delivers superior performance in all of those areas.
The ability to produce a true black when pixels switch off is more important than anything else, and this is OLED’s biggest strength. Contrast is, in the opinion of many in the industry, more important than resolution, and OLED TVs deliver this in spades.
Read our previous article here to see the differences between the OLED TV panels available in Australia today.