TCL today announced what it's calling the first 55-in., 4K UHD TV with a full color spectrum comparable to OLED TVs, but that will sell for one-third the price.
TCL said its new LCD flat-screen achieves the full possible range (known as "full gamut") of color by using "quantum dot" technology that also allows the company to produce the TVs at a reduced cost compared with OLEDs.
"The combination of QD Vision's quantum dot innovation, in-house, high-volume manufacturing operations... enables TCL to deliver full-gamut color TV models at LCD TV prices," TCL said in a statement.
China-based TCL is third-largest maker of flat-screen TVs. The company said its new 55-in. flat-screen model will be available in November and it will retail for one-third the cost of similar OLED sets. TCL would not reveal what that suggested retail price will be. TCL plans to unveil the new 4K flat screens at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin next week.
The new 55-in. quantum dot display, developed in partnership with QD Vision Inc., is a light emitting technology that uses semiconductor nanocrystals similar to those in organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. The displays also use a small quantity of cadmium sealed within the glass display to enhance colors.
The quantum dot component is mounted in the LCD backlight unit in front of blue LEDs (as opposed to white LEDs used by other manufacturers such as LG), according to Matt Mazzuchi, vice president of market and business development for QD Vision.
"QD Vision makes quantum dots with very narrow red and green light output. The result in the LCD system is that you get good color separation between red, green and blue light and hence pure saturated color on screen," Mazzuchi said in an email reply to Computerworld.
Quantum dot technology was first implemented commercially by Sony in 2013 in multiple flat-screen TV models. Now other TV and monitor makers are starting to follow suit.
Like OLEDs, QD Vision's quantum dot technology supplies light on demand, which enables more efficient displays than more common light emitting diode (LED) or liquid crystal diode (LCD) displays.
According to IHS analyst Veronica Gonzalez-Thayer, OLEDs and comparable nanocrystal technologies, enable "extremely thin" displays.
Compared with LED and LCD, OLED displays have a superior contrast ratio; a wider range of 'real life colors,' and its self-emitting pixels allow for deeper blacks, Gonzalez-Thayer said.
OLED TVs were first launched in the U.S. market during the second half of 2013, with a 55-in. 1080p resolution, curved model from LG Electronics priced at $10,000. According to IHS Technology, however, fewer than 500 units were shipped in the U.S. for that year.
"Since then, the retail price for this television has decreased sharply and it's now sold for as low as $3,500. Nevertheless, this price is still significantly higher than of a comparable 55-inch UHD TV, which sells for around $2,000," said Veronica Gonzalez-Thayer, an analyst for IHS's Consumer Electronics group.
Last month, LG announced the market's first 4K ultra-high definition (UHD) flat screen TV, which offers 3840 x 2160-pixel resolution, compared to high definition (HD) 1920×1080p resolution.
LG's 4K OLED TVs add a fourth color (white) to the standard RBG (red, green and blue) color spectrum. The sets are available in 77-in. and 65-in. screen sizes and will come in a curved panel form factor. The 65-in. model will have a retail price of about $11,700. Pricing for the 77-in. model has not been released.
As more screen sizes and brands become available, according to Gonzalez-Thayer, prices will continue to fall, making the TVs more accessible and increasing sales.
However, OLED TVs will always have a high premium price against LED TVs, even those in ultra-high definition. Advancements in LED technology are also producing TVs with improved contrast ratio and colors, making it more difficult for OLED TVs to differentiate and justify their premium price, Gonzalez-Thayer added.
IHS predicts that around 14,000 OLED TV units will be shipped in the U.S. this year, and that number will increase to close to 1.2 million units in 2018.