It turns out the outcome of the great OLED vs QLED TV wars is going to be to take the best of both technologies and merge them into one super-TV panel. At least, that's if Samsung has anything to say about (which it does, being the market leader in QLED and all).
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The idea of QD-OLED (as the hybrid is known) is to basically replace the traditional blue LED backlight used in QLED TVs with a blue OLED panel, with Quantum Dots used to alter the colour of the light from each pixel as needed. That means you still get per-pixel dimming and therefore the supreme contrast control that the best OLED TVs are famed for, but at a cheaper price (because there's only one colour of OLED pixels being used, and fewer layers required) and potentially reaching higher brightness levels (because the current colour filters used in OLED TVs won't be needed).
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Early versions of the tech have had a few issues, including struggling to produce the same deep black levels that OLED is known for, but according to OLED-info (opens in new tab), Samsung Display (the part of Samsung that makes screens for companies to use in TVs, which is different to Samsung Electronics, the part of Samsung that makes TVs people buy – got it?) has sent prototypes of panels made with QD-OLED to big-name TV manufacturers to show them what it can do, and plans to switch one of its major LCD factories completely to QD-OLED in 2021, so it must be pretty confident the technology is ready to rock now.
This would mean that we might see QD-OLED TVs announced late next year, though 2022 might be a more realistic timeframe. Market analyst Omnia is saying to expect to see 55-inch, 65-inch, 78-inch and 82-inch sizes, which would be a bit short-sighted in our opinion, if it comes to pass: OLED TVs have only just gone as small as 48 inches for the first time in the LG CX, and it seems a crime to leave people who want/need smaller TVs behind with a tech that's slated to be more affordable.
A report from supply chain analyst DSCC suggests that the cost of producing QD-OLED panels could be nearly a quarter of what a regular current OLED panel costs, and while the panel isn't the only thing in a TV that costs money to produce, it's a really encouraging sign for high-end picture quality coming to lower-price TVs.
It's also worth bearing in mind that TVs aren't the only application for QD-OLED panels – you can definitely expect them to become a popular choice for phones, assuming they reach their promised potential. Don't expect to hear anything for the iPhone 12, but for the iPhone 13 and beyond, who knows?
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