Samsung's long-rumored QD-OLED TVs appear to be moving towards production, if a new report from The Elec (opens in new tab) is anything to go by.
The online publication reports that Samsung Display is now entering the prototype stage for its QD-OLED hybrids, which blend the company's quantum dot filter technology – used to boost color and contrast in its QLED range – with the kind of organic LED panels used in today's OLED televisions.
Samsung QLED has been a competitor to OLED for some time, even if the former is technically still based on traditional LCD technology. A hybrid television that combines the best of both worlds could make use of OLED's advantages while using QLED tech to improve on its disadvantages, particularly where it pertains to panel brightness.
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According to The Elec, prototype models of QD-OLED televisions and monitors are entering production at Samsung Display, with mass production kicking off in late 2021 if manufacturers approve of the supplier's prototypes. Unsurprisingly, Samsung Electronics appears to be the primary manufacturer being targeted with the technology, but the report also cites "Sony and Chinese set makers" (likely Hisense and/or TCL) as other potential customers.
The report builds on months of rumors around Samsung considering a shift towards QD-OLED. In early 2021, we heard via Korea IT News (opens in new tab) that the world's largest TV maker could make the move to OLED – or at least a kind of OLED – as soon as 2022, with plans to invest 13.1 trillion won (around $12 billion / £8.5 billion / AU$15.5 billion) over the coming years in QD-OLED tech.
Coming into focus
All of this lines up with these latest reports, with mass production in late 2021 likely preparing Samsung for a commercial release of a QD-OLED TV range in early 2022.
It would certainly be a big shake-up for Samsung, which is already pursuing a number of different panel technologies. While it predominantly sells QLED (quantum dot light-emitting diode) televisions, 2021 has also seen Samsung launch a 'Neo QLED' range that adds a Mini LED backlight for vastly improved brightness control.
Samsung is also releasing a number of Micro LED televisions, which, like OLED, are self-emissive, through TV sizes are still quite large (76-inch, 88-inch, 99-inch, 110-inch) due to the nascent nature of the technology. QD-OLED TVs are similarly expected to launch at larger sizes (65-inch and above) and be geared towards premium consumers more willing to take a chance on new and expensive TV technologies.
It's likely that Samsung would start somewhat small, with a single QD-OLED model releasing in 2022 to gauge consumer interest, before unveiling a trio of iterated models in 2023 that showcase the technology at a mix of price points – varying the audio output, resolution, and build quality.
We saw a similar strategy when Samsung started pushing 8K TVs in earnest, though QD-OLED's potential as a cost-effective alternative to OLED could see Samsung push the technology faster from the off.
Back in 2019, Samsung told us that it believed "various technology improvements should precede for the existing OLED panel technology to be adopted to TVs, and no decision has been made on whether we will adopt the QD-OLED panels to our TVs."
It looks like, maybe, just maybe, Samsung has found the 'improvement' it was after.
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