But let’s see where it comes from.
If you’ve been tempted to upgrade your home theater by adding one of the best giant OLED TVs, you may have quickly found yourself rethinking that idea once you saw the price tag. 77-inch, 83-inch, and 97-inch OLED TVs are much more expensive than most LED TVs of the same sizes. For example, the 97-inch LG G2 costs $25,000 / £25,000 / AU$48,000, although that’s obviously the most extreme of the bunch.
And unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. LG Display, which is the sole supplier of the OLED panels used in the majority of OLED TVs sold, has just confirmed that it is delaying its plans to launch a “10.5G” OLED manufacturing facility at FlatpanelsHD. (opens in a new tab). The next-generation “10.5G” factory technology is supposed to be able to produce larger OLED TV panels more cheaply, bringing down the price of OLED biiiiig.
However, as reported by Korea Bizwire (opens in a new tab), the new installation has been pushed back to 2028, although nothing has been confirmed by LG Display. That’s a big delay for something that was originally supposed to arrive around 2021/2022, then pushed forward to 2025/2026. As a result of the shutdown, the earliest we can expect to see results is 2029.
On the other hand, the other thing that the “10.5G” OLED factories can do is to reach even more than 100 inches, at least, that was the claim in 2017 when all this was first announced. And LG Display is still hinting at “oversized” OLED TVs to come, so that’ll be fun, if/when it finally happens.
While the price of OLED TVs has generally been coming down fairly steadily in recent years, these price cuts have stalled due to rising inflation. There is very little price difference between the new LG C3 and the launch price of the LG C2, for example.
So it seems something else is needed to help spur the price drop of the more expensive models, and the new factory with more efficient manufacturing capacity would be it. Without it, it means the best 85-inch TVs could be dominated by increasingly affordable mini-LED models.
What is “10.5G” anyway?
At the moment, LG Display makes its TVs with 8.5G facilities, which allows it to introduce the largest range of sizes we have now, from 42-inch OLED TVs to the 97-inch LG G2 monster model.
OLED TV panels are produced in huge single panels, then the smaller individual screens used in TVs are cut from these large panels. The huge original panels are known by the incredibly sci-fi name “motherglass”.
When we talk about 8.5G or 10.5G manufacturing, we are basically talking about the size of the mother glass. A higher number means a larger mother glass, which has two advantages: it’s more efficient (you produce more TVs at once) and it gives you more flexibility about size.
With a 10.5G setup, you might be able to produce four 77-inch OLEDs per mother glass instead of the two per 8.5G mother glass, reducing the cost of each 77-inch screen as they go through the process faster. Or maybe that larger mother glass means you can make a single 113-inch OLED, something you couldn’t do before.
With more and more people buying larger TVs for their home theaters, from 75 inches to 98 inches, it will be important for OLED to stay competitive on price. I hope that technology will not be left behind by this delay.
For now, if you’re thinking about getting a big screen OLED, here’s my experience after having one for a year.
For those longing to fill their wall with an OLED TV, there may be some cause for disappointment. TechToday recently reported that large format OLED TVs, while becoming more affordable, won’t get much cheaper anytime soon.
TV makers LG and Sony have said they will be introducing smaller OLED TVs in 2020, as well as more affordable models. But they also said they wouldn’t be cutting prices on their current, large-format offerings anytime soon.
At Ikaroa, we understand that many consumers have been holding out for more affordable big-screen OLEDs for home theaters or for big, shared viewing experiences. Unfortunately current market conditions make it difficult for manufacturers to cut prices without sacrificing too much profit.
The premium quality of OLED displays is based on complex processes using expensive materials which require high production costs, which then must be reflected in the price. In addition, demand for OLED TVs is lower than for LCD or LED TVs, further impacting the cost.
Still, there are a lot of great products that fit with different sized budgets, from both LG and Sony. And 2020 will likely be an exciting year as smaller OLED TVs become available. At Ikaroa, we strive to provide the most up-to-date technology news, so that customers can make informed decisions when they make their purchases.