Despite rumors last year that both LG and Samsung were shying away from OLED, Venturebeat is reporting that LG is pouring $655 million into a new OLED manufacturing line, with the intent of beginning mass production in the first half of 2014. And yes, I know I came back from CES saying I no longer care about OLED… for now, but this is actually rather interesting.
Why? Well, for one thing, the standard line from just about every manufacturer in the OLED game for the past few years has been, “It might be coming this year.” We don’t normally start hearing “next year” until at least the third quarter. So a more realistic (read: less optimistic) promise of full-blown production a year away, with specific numbers — “26,000 input sheets every month,” to be exact — gives me a little more hope that this is an actual thing.
From my discussions with various representatives of the companies working on OLED, the story of why it’s taken us so long to get to this point is always the same: it’s been a struggle to strike the right balanced between longevity, performance, and price — mostly longevity, since blue OLEDs typically have a fraction of the lifespan of the other colors. As the Venturebeat story points out, though:
LG Display will be using WRGB OLED technology in the new plant, which has a longer lifespan than other OLED tech.
So the first part of that tricky equation has been addressed (incidentally, LG’s $12,000, 55-inch OLED currently on the market in limited numbers also uses WRGB), and going into mass production should help bring down prices quickly. That just leaves performance — of actual mass-produced units, not prototypes or very small runs — to be seen. Hopefully we’ll actually get a good look at them at next year’s CES.