LG’s 4K OLED TVs might have problems with the impending arrival of HDR content
Stephan Jukic – March 06, 2015
After LG’s new lines of OLED TVs first came out in late 2014, they were quickly recognized as being pretty much unbeatable in terms of color quality and contrast. This has stayed true right into 2015 with the even newer, improved line of models with the same technology.
However, there are voices now being raised among competitor brands that are claiming OLED to not be all that it’s cracked up to be. Specifically, these voices are saying this because of the impending arrival of the much vaunted new generation of HDR 4K content that is supposed to emerge towards the end of this year.
The problem lies in the fact that the newly developed interest in HDR (high dynamic range) technology in 4K content has also started a wider discussion on whether OLED TV displays will be able to handle the display characteristics of this new technology as it arrives.
Why is this the case? Because, according to these same expert sources, OLED, while being extraordinarily good at black reproduction and motion clarity due to its ability to actually turn off its organic LEDs (OLEDS), isn’t quite going to be capable of delivering the same brightness that normal LED TVs can provide.
Since one of the crucial components of HDR’s quality is its expected brightness, this will possibly make the powerful technology of OLED surprisingly deficient at delivering the extraordinary contrast of HDR when compared to normal LED TVs.
In turn, this could affect these TVs ability to deliver the expanded luminance and color range that HDR promises.
According to Danny Tack, an expert from Philip’s European dvision questioned by Forbes magazine in a recent blog post, the wide color gamut and much brighter light output of LCD are features that have a better position to meet the demands of HDR than OLED does.
So far, as Tack explained to Forbes, OLED (and its primary developer LG) have to first solve this light output issue before they can really meet the standard of HDR and Tack doesn’t believe that this will happen for at least two or three more years.
The point of this was underscored by some raw numbers behind both technologies: Namely, while 4K LCD TVs have managed to increase light output from 500 to 800 nits in just the last 12 months between 2014 and now, OLED has only increased its capacity by 50 nits. For each of the two generation of OLED TVs to emerge in 2014 – 2015.
While this is understandable given the revolutionary and difficult to manufacture nature of TVs with organic light emitting diodes, it also shows how the technology might face problems with HDR just around the corner in 2015.
Samsung has also weighed in on the issue and claimed that force driving the brightness of OED panels to levels that are bright enough to handle HDR will likely also reduce those panels’ life spans dramatically. Given the very high retail prices of OLED 4K TVs, this is something that potential owners definitely won’t want to hear as they get ready for HDR content to arrive from different 4K transmission services.
Currently then, LGs stake in OLED TVs is looking quite shaky as far as this goes. The company is offering very expensive TVs that are likely to deliver surprisingly inferior performance for the latest, best 4K content that’s coming while their much more affordable LED LCD 4K TV cousins make the grade!
LG is of course defending its unique OLED 4K TV technology and claims that it will definitely have and HDR OLED solution ready for later this year and that they should be ready to unveil more details about how this is expected to work in time for the IFA technology show in September.
Furthermore, a source at LG also claimed that OLED HDR will be the priority for LG because OLED itself doesn’t have any serious barriers to its nature that make it unable to cope with HDR. Furthermore, the source claimed that OLED is in fact a much more versatile platform than conventional LED technology because its individual LEDs are self-emissive (can be individually turned off) and because the chipsets that offer computing power for OLED screens are much more capable of processing the needs of HDR quickly.
Nonetheless, the current batches of OLED 4K TVs do not actually have HDR factored into their design and LG claims that this is so because HDR itself is the technology which isn’t quite yet ready for the consumer ultra HD content market.
So far it’s still too early to say anything concrete about any of these technologies and how they will interact by the time 2015 finishes up so we’ll just have to wait and see if OLED picks up the ball on HDR or if LED/LCD wins out at least for the time being.
Story by 4k.com