Special Report on LG and Samsung at CES
January 10, 2017



LG Display’s CEO and Vice Chairman, Han Sang-beom said LGD would expand its large OLED and small and mid-size plastic OLED (P-OLED) business in earnest this year. The company also plans to consolidate its lead in the global display market by strengthening its premium LCD strategy. He further reiterated, “We will double the production output of large OLED panels this year from last year and increase it more than two times every year by initiating the sixth-generation small and mid-size P-OLED panel production, changing our business structure to OLED.” To this end, LG Display integrated its TV business division and OLED TV business division. He forecasted that OLED TVs would reach a break-even point in 2018 as the volume doubles. In addition, LG Display set up the strategy to accelerate its pace to target the premium LCD market and expand its new growth engine business, such as automobile display and signage. On the same day, the company unveiled what it calls the Crystal Sound OLED (CSO) technology for the first time in the world. The CSO technology is about building a sound production system inside an OLED panel by tapping into its structural advantage with two custom transducers. A television made of a CSO panel can produce more immerse sound compared to ones with external speakers which can only produce reflective sound, according to LG Display. Through the technology, LG Display not only secured OLED design expandability, including wall paper TV, curved and flexible displays, but also suggested a possibility in OLED to upgrade sound system, which is a core function of TVs. The company showcased the 55-inch and 65-inch Crystal Sound OLED UHD TVs.


Figure 1 OLED “Wallpaper"


Source: Company




While OLED TV sales projections have been moving targets this year, LG Display CEO Han Sang-beom has set the goal of doubling the number of OLED TV panels shipped in 2017 from 2016’s 900,000 units, and further set a goal of 2.8m panels for 2018.  LG Display is in the process of expanding its OLED TV panel production lines from 34,000 sheets to 60,000 sheets/month, although the timing and slope of the expansion has not been given. 


Figure 2 LG’s CEO and Vice Chairman, Han Sang-beom


Source: OLED-A



Meanwhile, regarding to a potential LCD panel supply deal with Samsung Electronics, Han said, “We are in talks in order to draw a big picture from a long term point of view.”


Samsung is trying to challenge the notion that OLED TVs represent the pinnacle of picture quality in the living room. The company unveiled its latest flagship televisions, the QLED series. It’ll be available in three models: the Q9, Q8, and Q7. Samsung says that QLED TV represents its best achievement in image quality and viewing experience yet. The company insisted it’s made very real improvements compared to the flagship TVs it unveiled only a year ago. One of those upgrades pertains to brightness. The QLED TVs reach a peak brightness between 1,500 and 2,000 nits — up from the 1,000 peak from 2016’s lineup.  However, Samsung still only supports the HDR 10 version of 1,000 nits and not the Dolby’s HDR version, which can reaches 4,000 nits.


Figure 3 Samsung’s QLED TVs on an Easel-like stand or a Metal “Gravity Stand.”

Source: Company



Color reproduction has also been improved. The QLED sets handle DCI-P3 “accurately” and are capable of reproducing “100 percent color volume” — something Samsung claims to be a world first. “This means they can express all colors at any level of brightness — with even the subtlest differences visible at the QLED’s peak luminance — between 1,500 and 2,000 nits.” Samsung says all of this is possible because it’s using a new metal material along with the quantum dot nanocrystals. Details around release date and pricing were absent from Samsung’s press release on the QLED series, nor were they mentioned at the media preview. Odds are these sets will hit retail by spring along with the rest of the flagship TVs we’re seeing at CES. As for how much you’ll pay, for some context, Samsung’s current K9800 4K SUHD TV retails for $3,500.


If you were expecting a groundbreaking announcement about a foldable handheld product at CES, it didn’t happen. Neither Samsung nor LG had a foldable display on the floor or in their suites. If the rumors of a 2017 release were accurate, we would have expected to see examples of the technology at CES.  Maybe 2018!

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