They say thinner is better and South Korean tech giants LG have certainly taken this to heart with their latest innovation, the world’s thinnest television which is a teeny four millimetres thick, and 55 inches wide, LG’s next generation set also uses OLED technology and is set to be this years best-selling smart TV.
OLED stands for ‘Organic light-emitting diodes’ which allows the company to use thinner screens and produce clearer images, it also means the picture has deeper colours, better clarity and enhanced contrast. The first sets have already been manufactured and cost 11 million won (£6,363), and are at present currently being delivered to customers in South Korea next month and elsewhere before the end of March.
They will be available in North America, Europe and the rest of Asia before the end of March.
Although LG is the first to launch this kind of smart and thin television, it is still not clear whether their speedy entry into the big-screen next-generation TV to market will pay off. It is widely known that producing these big sets is a difficult and costly business, and the technology is beset by changes and the service provided to customers is not always considered a match to the price of the sets themselves. The competition in this industry is also fiercely fought over with patents pending and the latest innovation soon overtaken and seemingly outdated.
By LG’s announcement is the culmination of a race by electronics makers to be the first to deliver the next-generation sets. Many other companies have rushed to the finishing line to get the first OLED set to market; in 2007 Sony showed up the world’s first 11in OLED TV set but failed to deliver with a larger display.
OLED technology has been used to great effect on mobile screens, but producing one large enough for a wide-screen television has always proved problematic, because there are still massive technological difficulties involved.
Jang Moon-ik, director of LG’s TV business, admitted in an interview last year that in his opinion, there were only two companies in the world that would have a capacity to mass produce large screen OLED TVs: LG and rival South Korean company Samsung Electronics.
It was widely expected that either company, LG or Samsung, would deliver them to the market as promised in the fourth quarter of 2012, but both failed due to manufacturing challenges.
Samsung would not comment on when a television with OLED capability would be available from their stable, but did say that they wanted to concentrate on getting their product perfect, and that was more important than a launch schedule.
It might turn out that LG has shot themselves in the foot as demand for the new thin OLED television is likely to be small at first, making production impractical. It is known that manufacturing costs for big-screen new TVs requires billions in investments to upgrade factories. LG will be hoping nevertheless that their cutting-edge display technology can help offset falling prices and make their products stand out from those of their fast-growing Chinese rivals.
It is thought that Japanese companies, which previously dominated the global TV market, simply do not have the money to invest in this new technology.