LG taking preorders for 55-in OLED screen

LG looks set to be the first TV manufacturer to get a 55-inch OLED TV out of the factory and onto the shelves, ahead of rival Samsung.

It’s taking preorders for the 1920 x 1080 pixel television, which will be released first in South Korea, with North America, Europe and the rest of Asia to follow by the end of March.

Samsung announced a similar product last year, but has yet to give a release date. Until now, OLED technology has only been available in much smaller screens, such as Samsung phones. Cost and reliability have put the brakes on larger models.

OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, technology, offers sharper images and deeper color saturation than LCDs, and is also more energy-efficient. LG claims that by imcorporating White OLED, which emits white color light from the diode, it gets a lower error rate and clearer screen.

The LG television is incredibly thin, at just four millimeters thick, and weighs less than 22 pounds. It’s based on Oxide TFT – a cheaper technology than the Low Temperature Poly Silicon (LTPS) used in most smaller OLED screens.

According to a recent report from analyst firm NPD DisplaySearch, OLED televisions will take off only slowly to start with – and no wonder, at this price. Mass production is still fiendishly difficult, and at this stage it’s more about the kudos of being first to market.

“NPD DisplaySearch forecasts that OLED TV panel production will remain low, as LG and Samsung continue their efforts to increase production yields,” says the firm.

There’s also likely to be competition from ultra-high definition LCD TVs, under development by panel makers in Taiwan, China and Japan.