TCL’s own take on OLED TVs are coming, and we’ve got our first hint as to how big these screens could actually go.
TCL’s Europe Product Development Director, Marek Maciejewski, tells us that their upcoming 8.5 Gen fab (‘fab’ being a site for the assembly of parts in TV manufacture) will be dedicated to inkjet OLED printing, and that it will allow for multiple ways to “cut the screens” for commercial sizing.
“So it could be 55-inch, 65-inch – and could also be 98-inch, or 110-inch, because that’s the size of the production line,” we’re told.
That could be a big step up from today’s OLED TV sizes, which top out at 88 inches for massive 8K resolution models, such as the B&O Beovision or LG ZX OLED – alongside usual 55-inch, 65-inch, and 77-inch sizes. LG’s OLED panels have also moved into new sizing territory with last year’s 48-inch OLED option, and this year’s 83-inch alternative on some select sets, but 98-110 inch panels are something else altogether.
The only comparable technology right is Samsung’s Micro LED screens, which the company has struggled to bring to commercially viable sizes. We saw a 292-inch model a couple of years back, though Samsung is now introducing 88-inch, 99-inch, and 100-inch models, with assurances of a more convenient 76-inch size along the way.
Most homes won’t be able to fit screens of this size, of course, and we expect that gargantuan OLED TV sizes will offset the price savings of the inkjet-printing process – which is expected to result in 15-25% lower RRPs compared to traditional WOLED (‘white OLED’, of the kind manufactured by LG Display) screens. And just because 110-inch panels are technically possible doesn’t mean we’ll see them come to retail – but it hints at a greater level of flexibility in OLED sizing than we’re currently seeing today.
The Holy Grail
TCL has previously expressed its disdain for traditional OLED manufacture, saying that the inkjet process would “avoid the problematic evaporation technique” currently used to create WOLED panels, and would be “more precise” with “less waste [and] lower prices.”
But, Maciejewski says, “long term we know that the next breakthrough for TV screens will come from self-emissive screens, and that’s why we’re investing in this technology.
“We know that for the future the Holy Grail is self-emissive screens,” he adds – despite TCL currently pushing its bright Mini LED TVs as a cost-effective alternative to OLED. We have a while to wait until TCL starts its planned 2023 production of inkjet OLED panels, and until then, Mini LED seems like the focus.