Every TV on the market today is one of two technologies: OLED TVs have better picture quality but cost more money. LCD TV-makers to improve image quality, one of which is called .. LCD-based TVs are much more common and popular because they're less expensive and easier to manufacture. They're also bright and easier to make with extreme resolutions like .
Last March, Samsung Display announced it was ending all LCD production in Korea and its factories in China by the end of 2020. The company's investment will henceforth be focused on building more advanced quantum dot displays. Earlier this week, it was reported that Samsung Display is already showing QD-OLED prototypes to several different companies, including its sister company Samsung Electronics.
Samsung Display claims it wants to start mass production in 2021, although there's no confirmation when the first QD-OLED TVs might go on sale. Samsung Electronics hasn't replied to our requests for additional information.
Here's why a hybrid of OLED and quantum dots could be the next big thing in TV tech.
Samsung's $11 billion bet on quantum dots
Samsung has been selling LCD TVs enhanced by quantum dots for the last few years under itsbrand, and its . In our tests Samsung's QLED TVs , however, mainly because of . And at the moment only one company makes big-screen OLED display panels: LG.
But what if you could combine the benefits of quantum dots with the contrast ratios of OLED? It would create a sort of hybrid TV with, potentially, picture quality better than any current TV.
Last October Samsung announced it was building a factory to do just that:
Samsung Display will invest 13.1 trillion won by 2025 to build "Q1 Line," the world's first QD display mass production line at Asan Campus. The new line is scheduled to start production in 2021 with an initial 30,000 sheets (8.5 generations) and will produce a huge QD display of 65 inches or larger.
That's an investment of around $11.1 billion. While Samsung calls this "QD display," it isn't. That technology is still several years away. This is going to be a QD-OLED hybrid.
At the announcement, South Korean President Moon Jae-in also referenced Samsung's rival LG in regards to Korea's place in world TV production: "It is important to maintain the top spot of the global display market with game-changing technologies," Moon said. "Following LG Display's 3 trillion-won investment in large OLED panel production in July, Samsung Display's latest investment plan brightens prospects further."
So how will it work? Nanosys, a company that makes quantum dots, has shared some details. Its CEO, Jason Hartlove, is understandably bullish on the technology, which relies on converting light from an OLED panel.
"Quantum Dot Color Conversion is a completely new way of rendering color in displays," he told CNET. "The result is pure quantum dot color with much higher efficiency as no light is lost in a color filter. We've worked closely with a number of development partners on implementations for both LCD and OLED technologies and expect to see the first QDCC product launches over the next 12-18 months."
How QD-OLED would work
Combining quantum dots and OLED could play to the strengths of both technologies. The idea with any TV is to. LED LCDs with quantum dots, like Samsung's current QLED TVs, to convert some of that blue into red and green. With the current version of OLED, . In both cases, color filters let pass only what color is needed for that specific subpixel.
The idea with a QD-OLED is to simplify these designs into one, by using OLED to create blue light, and then a quantum dot layer to convert some of the blue into red and green.
There are many advantages to this method, in theory. By using only one color or material of OLED, the manufacturing costs go way down since it's easier to build. LG, for instance, uses only two OLED materials, blue and yellow, for every pixel across the entire display. Light-blocking color filters create the green and red. QDs have nearly 100% efficiency, significantly better than filters, so in theory the hybrid TVs will be much brighter. Plus, there's the possibility of even at all brightness levels.
Because each pixel can be shut off, these hybrid TVs will also have the incrediblethat OLED is known for.
Since blue OLED materials still age faster than red and green, having the entire panel one color means the TV ages more evenly with no color shift. Keeping that aging to a minimum, and thereby having a TV that doesn't seem dim after a few years, is one of the key manufacturing issues. This is especially true in thisera of extreme brightness levels.
While this new Samsung plant is focusing on TV-size displays, the technology could work in phone-sized displays as well. Since Samsung doesn't seem to have any issue making excellent small OLEDs, I'd be surprised if it's in any rush to upset that market with something as advanced as this. Also, Samsung's phone-sized OLEDs use red, green and blue OLEDs compared to LG's blue-yellow. Samsung tried to make RGB OLED TVs and just couldn't make them profitable. What's more likely, and mentioned in the latest rumors, is they'll use this tech to build ultra-high resolution 8K computer monitors along with larger TV screens.
As mentioned earlier, it's clear Samsung believes strongly in this technology, since it's ending production of LCDs at its factories in Korea and China. This doesn't mean that starting next year it won't sell any LCDs. Samsung is a massive company, and the part of the company that makes LCDs, Samsung Display, is stopping production. The part of the company that sells TVs, Samsung Electronics, has made no such announcement. There are already rumors it'll be buying LCD panels from none other than former sometimes-rival sometimes-partner Sharp. It's undoubtedly a temporary arrangement, but an interesting one at that. As such, it's unlikely we'll see Samsung-branded QD-OLED in 2021. My guess, since Samsung isn't saying, is we'll see some QD-OLED models at CES 2022.
Into the future
It's possible, maybe even likely, that LG is working on a similar QD-OLED hybrid. Right now it's not saying (we asked). It is, however, the logical next step for OLED before whatever next generation of TV tech arrives. And for what it's worth LG Display also announced it would end domestic manufacture of LCD panels by the end of 2020.
And what about even farther-future display tech? Well, the quantum dot folks seem to think electroluminescent quantum dots, or ELQD, would have all the benefits of OLED, all the benefits of QD and none of the issues of LCD or the wear and longevity concerns of OLED. A very promising tech indeed.. These
Then there's the question of what Samsung will call this new QD-OLED technology, since it's already branded its current TVs as "QLED." It's a safe bet it won't be calling them OLED anything, since that's LG's "thing" and Samsung is already trying to use the fear of trash-talk the technology.to
The other new TV tech on the horizon from Samsung and others is
In the meantime, we've got , which is pretty cool too and far less expensive than any of these.