Samsung to begin sales of OLED TVs in second half
By Kim Yoo-chul
Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) televisions are the technology world’s equivalent of a superhot, shopaholic girlfriend: visually breathtaking, but financially unsustainable.
But that isn’t keeping Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest maker of flat-screen televisions, from taking a shot at it.
The company unveiled a prototype 55-inch OLED television at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas; and is now nearly ready to move the products from display booths to living rooms.
Sources at Samsung confirmed Thursday that it has decided to mass produce the ES9500 televisions, which will be hitting shelves in the latter half of the year in Korea, North America and Europe.
Samsung is among a growing list of electronics makers trying their luck with OLED televisions, along with rivals LG Electronics and Sony.
While OLED sets offer a significant improvement in picture quality compared to liquid crystal display (LCD) models, hefty price tags and unresolved technical issues have prevented them from becoming mainstream products.
Samsung officials are ready to declare OLED televisions ready for prime time. And the company wants to burst out of the gate ahead of its rivals in what it sees as a potentially lucrative market.
The first models will still require a considerable outlay. According to Kim Hyun-seok, director of Samsung’s television division, the 55-inch OLED television will be priced at around 10 million won ($9,500.)
``Korean consumers will be able to buy our OLED televisions as early as the third quarter. However, it will take about two to three years for OLED TVs to become mainstream products mostly due to the price,’’ Kim admitted. LG Electronics is planning to unveil its first 55-inch OLED set at the Berlin IFA in August.
Samsung and LG have been taking different technology approaches in OLED televisions.
Kim said the company has no plans to adopt the white-OLED technology used by LG. Samsung’s products will be based on RGB-OLED technology.
LG claims that its technology, based on a four sub-pixel arrangement of green, red, blue and white, compared to the older RGB-OLED technology that doesn’t use a white sub-pixel, enables more color depth.
The Samsung OLED television will also be equipped with ``dual-viewing’’ technology, letting users watch two different programs on one screen, even when one of the frames shows 3D content.
``Samsung is battling with LG over OLED technology. But at this stage, the debate doesn’t matter because OLED needs to come to market before arguing about the potential merits of one version of the technology over another,’’ said Lee Seung-chul, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities.