LG's OLED odyssey: can it finally bring the TV technology into the mainstream?

2015 is the year of OLED - that is if LG gets its way

LG unveils OLED plans

Affordable OLED technology has been the Half-Life 3 of the television world - forever rumoured but yet to actually appear.

LG is hoping this will all change in 2015, though, revealing at CES that it expects to see the technology in a million plus homes in 2015.

Saying and doing something are very different things, but LG is making some big strides in the production of OLED.

At its press conference - always the first official one to usher in CES - LG's head of new product development Tim Alessi's message was as clear as the picture quality of the OLED panels being shown off: "OLED is the pinnacle and the future of TV and LG is best placed to deliver it."

Alessi explained that LG's sister company LG Display was quadrupling production of OLED panels in 2015, with a whopping $600 million investment in place to make sure a bigger array of sizes would be available to the public, which should bring with it cheaper televisions. Well, cheap in terms of OLED.

OLED vs LED

LG's OLED push is at a time when much of the television market is focusing its efforts on Ultra HD (4K) LED panels. LG is offering these panels too, but they were barely talked about - LG's full focus was on OLED.

Comprising affordability and great picture quality, 4K LED at first glance houses more mass-market appeal that OLED. OLED still feels very much like the luxury alternative to LED.

Alessi believes that the picture quality between both technologies is vast, however. And it's all because of the blacks.

"An OLED screens ability to develop black is what makes it's picture the best ever. Creating pure black has been a challenge for TV manufacturers for years. With an LED TV there is always light on the screen, even with local dimming.

"OLED can create literal black because every pixel can be turned on and off."

It is this clarity that has stunned Netflix into forming a close alliance with LG.

Netflix link-up

In 2015, Netflix will be adding HDR content to its service - a technology that thrives on OLED's ability to pitch colours perfectly via each pixel - and will be offering this content up to LG televisions.

"LG and Netflix partnership has been around since 2008 and now we are doubling down on that innovation - not just offering more pixels but better pixels," said Greg Peters, Netflix, chief of streaming, about the addition of HDR content.

To make sure that Netflix users get the right TV for the service, Peters explained that there will be a Netflix recommended TV program, which will offer up Netflix-approved television sets. Something LG will definitely be a part of.

Strategic partnerships aside, if LG does manage to bring OLED TVs into the mainstream, then it will succeed where many companies before it have failed.

Sony is now out of the market, Samsung isn't quite there to bring OLED to the masses; LG's bravado surrounding OLED is commendable but unless prices seriously drop the technology will always be awed at in a convention centre but rarely seen in the home.

Techradar's coverage of the future of tech at CES 2015 LIVE is brought to you courtesy of Currys PC World. View Currys' full range of the latest TV, Blu-ray and home cinema systems here.

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