Will 4k Ultra HD eclipse OLED at CES 2013?


Distinguished Member
OLED and out?

At last year's CES there's no doubt OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs stole the show. The big two from Korea, Samsung and LG, both had stunning 55 inch models on the show floor and the crowds and press, alike, were left suitably wowed and wooed. Indeed, LG's EM9600 ran off with a ‘Best of Show' award and an industrial design accolade from the IDEA although, from where we were standing, there seemed little to nothing in it between the two. The next big thing had arrived and we were promised, by both, that shipments were to begin in earnest in the 3rd quarter of 2012. Both companies then followed up at the approximate European equivalent event, IFA 2012, with Samsung, in particular, making big on OLED where their exhibition space contained the World's Biggest OLED Experience, comprising of twenty 55-inch OLED TVs.

Roll on another 12 months from last year's CES and we've still yet to see any evidence that either company is in a position to produce OLED TVs in the quantities sufficient for a mass roll-out, despite LG coming out only yesterday (02/01/2013) with the announcement of the official launch for the EM9700; read beneath the PR hype and LG clearly are waiting to see how the public react to a 55-inch TV retailing for circa $10,000 before ramping up production. One of the challenges for OLED technology has always been finding a way to produce panels, of the size required, with high enough yields to make them commercially viable, i.e. it's apparently proved very difficult to get enough usable units off the fabrication plants and, thus, the cost of producing them is elevated beyond the point where they can be placed at retail for a price-point where the public will put their hands deep enough inside their pockets to purchase one. Industry reports from pilot production indicates that 55” AMOLED TV panel straight yield (without repair) is in single digits due to instability in the large backplanes and that total yield (after repair) is estimated to be less than 30%. Not pretty reading for those concerned in production.


There's also the obstacle of marketing and ‘educating' the public. For the last few years all the major manufacturers have been pushing LED TVs, heavily, so how is the man in the street to know that simply by virtue of the letter ‘O' being placed in front of the existing acronym, he'll be getting a radical new technology? The answer is, likely they won't until it's been spelt out them in terms they can understand. We've no sympathy with the manufacturers here, they've hoodwinked many into thinking LED was something wholly different to LCD, for years, when that's really not the case.

So where next whilst the companies take stock on how best to proceed with OLED? The answer would seem to be that it's easier to sell bigger numbers &#8211; both in terms of pixel count and screen real estate &#8211; than it is a whole new technology. Step forward 4K or Ultra HD (U-HD) as it has been officially christened by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the hosts of CES. From the evidence we have, it would seem that LCD panels with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels are easier and more cost effective to produce than a 55&#8221; OLED panel and they can do it in sizes as large as 84 inches, currently, but if rumours from the Korean press prove true, Samsung will be blowing that out of the water with a humongous, 110 inch Ultra HD TV at CES 2013; currently the largest size possible with eighth generation LCD production line technology and perhaps another indication of the shift in focus by the manufacturers. Perhaps 110 vs 55 is going to sound twice as impressive to Joe Public, even if the placing of such a TV in the home is beyond practicality in most instances. It's still a headline grabber and they'd probably settle for that over a <i>déjà vu</i> show where OLED again takes centre stage.


Whilst Sony and Panasonic have been relatively quiet on the OLED front, so far, they have confirmed themselves to be working collaboratively on OLED production. Sony actually launched the world's first OLED TV in 2007 with its 11-inch model and also released a 25-inch professional OLED monitor in 2011, and continues to develop products and mass-produce OLED, albeit in smaller sizes than the domestic market would want. It would seem Panasonic are taking the production lead in the joint project as their manufacturing technique and technology utilizes the cutting-edge &#8216;all printing method'. Latest rumours from the web indicate that Panasonic will have a new flagship TV to impress at CES this year with the comeback of the &#8216;Z Series' under the codename &#8216;Project Velvet'. Quite whether that is to be a 4K or OLED TV - for surely it will be one of them - remains to be seen but whichever way that goes is going to be indicative of where the industry is headed in the near future. That said, it could be the Japanese plough their own furrow irrespective of what the Korean's are doing although with the balance of power currently to the west of the East Sea/Sea of Japan &#8211; depending on your persuasion &#8211; we can't imagine either Panasonic or Sony would be brave enough to totally ignore what Samsung and LG are doing.

Outside of the 4 companies discussed above, none of the other major manufacturers are yet to make any OLED noises. In fact, two of the other big hitters, Toshiba and Sharp, have already shown off Ultra HD TVs. Sharp will be releasing the 4K, 60 inch Purios in February, just after CES, so there's no doubt that will be front and centre at their exhibition in Vegas. By virtue of their present cosying up with Sharp we wouldn't be too surprised to see Philips with a 4K TV in Las Vegas and, lest we forget, the Dutch company was the first to publically show a TV with a native 3840 x 2160, autosteroscopic (glasses-free 3D) display all the way back in 2008. Toshiba, meanwhile, have had the ZL2 available in the UK since March 2012, which is likewise a glasses-free, 3D U-HD TV so, no doubt, they'll either be giving that another push or announcing an updated version come CES.


In some ways, it could be argued, that Ultra High Definition is the perfect solution for the industry, as a whole, as it might mean that 3D finally begins to appeal to the consumer in the home as they are unshackled from the encumbrances of being forced to don specialised eye-wear and draw the curtains in order to enjoy a presentation. We'll be keeping an eye on Philips, in particular, in this regard as their current collaboration with Dolby in producing an effective autostreoscopic solution looks particularly promising, winning rave reports at the recent International Broadcasters Convention (IBC). More 3D TVs sold equals more 3D Blu-ray players shifted and a recoup of at least some of that R&D money; and that's another issue, with all of the TV divisions' across the board suffering substantial losses, not all the companies are in a position to plough R&D money in to OLED. LED/LCD technology is in a reasonably advanced state of development where manufacturing costs are low and yields are high. In other words, OLED is more of a gamble.

If the challenges of OLED are in manufacturing and marketing, then for Ultra High Definition it is a medium by which to deliver content that presents the biggest obstacle. It seems like we've been waiting forever for first news of that 4K Blu-ray player to emerge from someone, somewhere but despite some vague, internet based murmurings, nothing concrete has yet to emerge. So will CES 2013 finally be the year we'll see &#8216;Ultra HD Blu-ray'? Perhaps, and if we had to lay money on who will first break with one - our pennies would be on Sony but what will most certainly be in evidence are a selection of top-tier Blu-ray players with 4K scaling capabilities. It seems certain that at least every manufacturer with a U-HD TV to hawk at CES will, at least, have one player in the range they are able to stick the logo on but we're far more interested in getting the real thing.

The answer may not be Blu-ray based, at all, maybe it's Red. Red Digital Cinema, the company that supplied its &#8216;Epic' cameras for filming of the controversial, HFR 3D <i>The Hobbit</i>, recently announced plans for its Redray player, scheduled for a March 2013 release. The Redray player features a very low, 4K data rate averaging less than 2.5MB/s, which means a .RED file can deliver a feature-length film at 4K resolution on a USB flash drive or via a media network. With 1TB of internal storage, the player can store up to 100 hours of 4K content although that does sound like an awful lot of compression and there's next to no point in strangling the extra resolution, otherwise we could just stick with 1080p.


It remains to be seen how effective Red's compression techniques are, of course, and there's no doubt some manipulation of the bitrates will be required to get Ultra High Definition in to the home, by broadcast means. Much like old fashioned HD, consumers having the ability to access U-HD content via their TV provider will be key to the technology catching on. Clues on exactly how this might happen going forwards emerged, again from the IBC, with perhaps the most telling demonstration coming from SES and Sony who used a satellite to send a live 4000 line resolution feed in to the convention hall. The content was carried on a DVB-S2 satellite tuner, the same kind found in many TVs now, using &#8216;old fashioned' MPEG-4 at 50 Mbps. SES' target next year is to use the new and more efficient HEVC/H.265 encoding &#8211; also showcased at IBC - to get the number down to 20 Mb/s; meaning a pair of channels can be carried on a single transponder. So perhaps some of the real telling news from CES 2013 will come not via the hardware suppliers but those involved with the content and compression.

It may well turn out that neither technology gets any traction in the market; both have their obstacles to overcome. Large screen OLED needs to become cheap enough to manufacture to become viable as a mass market product and Ultra High Definition requires a capable and efficient delivery system. Both have a job on to convince the public they're needed. There's no reason to be pessimistic however, technology can and will not standstill and sometimes it's a seat of the pants journey, punctuated and dictated by external forces, so one or both will emerge soon enough. Ultra HD OLED anyone? Now that would be a nice CES 2013 surprise!
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Its a hard coice oled vs 4k .. Se 4k as more future proof vs a 1080p oled screen but i dont like the thought of the same led lcd issues we had the last years of tvs..


Active Member
great stuff i been thinking about if i want to wait till 4k or oled to come up before upgrade my tv to bigger size .


Standard Member
Hello AVForums, this is my first post here!

Showcasing these new tv formats is great and really shows the advancement in tv screen technology; its just whether there'd be enough services to justify buying a 4K set as soon as they're released.

golden phoenix

Distinguished Member
looking forward as always Mark to CES 2013, thanks for the briefing are we sending our usual special agents Hinton and Withers.


Only intrested in oled and 4k at ces 2013 now..

Craig uk

Well-known Member
Are we sure there won't be a 4k oled panel this year?


No rumors of sony showing a 4k oled panel

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