According to Samsung, 4K Is Ready for the Mainstream but OLED 4K Not Quite

by on September 1, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – September 1st, 2014

HS Kim, executive vice president of visual display business for Samsung Corporation has helped his company maintain its place as the world’s best-selling brand of flat panel display screens and TVs for several years now, so when he has something to say about a new technology, it’s worth hearing.

According to Kim, the outlook for 4K UHD is looking very good for 2014 and the next couple of years following that. However, OLED 4K technology, considerably superior to 4K with conventional artificial LED backlighting in 4K screens, is still at least a couple of years away from being viable at prices that are anywhere near affordable.

Both OLED technology and Ultra HD 4K display came out onto the consumer market in the same year, 2012. While 4K is a new resolution format that contains a minimum of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels (as opposed to the 1,920 x 1080 pixels of normal Full HD), OLED is a reference to Organic Light Emitting Diodes. In other words, OLED is the technology of 4K screens’ future composition.

While both conventional LED 4K and OLED 4K offer absolutely superb picture quality to their viewers, OLED backlighting in 4K TVs is far better than artificial LED backlighting. However, it’s also still extremely expensive to produce.

Even now, in mid-2014, the prices of normal HD OLED TVs are well above $3,000 USD and the only OLED 4K TVs on the market, which are made by LG, cost well above $5,000 USD for even the smallest models. Yes, 4K LED TVs are expensive but they don’t come close to the price of an OLED 4K set.

Thus, according to Kim, “Not many consumers tried to purchase OLED TVs at that price. Price was our [Samsung’s] greatest barrier. So our attempt to expand the market didn’t really go well”.

Samsung, along with LG is currently the only seller of OLED HDTVs, though unlike LG, the company does not yet sell 4K OLED sets.

This is largely because Samsung doesn’t believe the mass market to be ready for OLED because it simply can’t yet be built into UHD TVs at a reasonable cost. Again, according to Kim, “I’m really, really terribly sorry to say this, but it will take more time…. I believe it will take around three or four years”

This of course hasn’t stopped LG from going ahead and releasing consumer market models of 4K TVs with OLED technology as part of an effort to get ahead of the 4K ambitions of its competitors. However, the LG TVs, just as Kim of Samsung explained, are extremely expensive even by the standards of normal 4K. The cheapest and smallest are going on sale for more than $5,000 USD.


LG’S OLED 4K TVs on display at IFA 2014

On the other hand, both HS Kim and Samsung are very optimistic about the prospects of 4K itself, and firmly believe that the new resolution technology will gain wide traction even faster than 1080p HD did over a decade ago: “The only difference between Full HD and UHD is that the UHD trend will take place faster.

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