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Samsung may start making OLED TVs with LG screens

A Samsung television set. (Photo courtesy Samsung Electronics, Graphic by The Desk)

Samsung is preparing to order more than a million top-tier screens manufactured by rival Korean electronics giant LG, according to multiple reports in local financial publications there.

The purchase would cover screens that employ organic, light emitting diode (OLED) technology to reproduce images with brilliant color accuracy.

LG is the market leader in OLED screen manufacturing: The company uses the screens for their own line of OLED TV sets and sells similar screens to other electronic manufacturers, including Sony and Vizio.

OLED screens are coveted by videophiles for their ability to reproduce sharp, realistic images. While traditional LED TVs use one or more backlights, each pixel of an OLED screen is self-lit, which allows the TV set to reproduce “true black” levels by shutting off unused pixels.

Samsung has traditionally preferred to use the older LED panels on its lower-end TV sets and a rival technology called QLED, which represents “quantum” dot filters placed between the backlight and other elements of the screen. Each “dot” produces its own color, but some QLED screens suffer the same effects as lower-end LED screens because a full backlight is still needed to illuminate the image.

Samsung took a gamble several years ago when it stopped making OLED screens and went all in on QLED technology for its higher-end television models. That gamble didn’t pay off, with gadget reviewers and videophiles alike deeming OLED to be the superior technology.

When Samsung made the decision to move away from OLED, it did so at a time when TV sales were less than 3 percent of its overall business. Now, things are different: Tizen OS, Samsung’s self-produced, app-based smart TV operating system, is now one of the most-dominant in the world, powering 11.2 million television sets, according to some estimates.

That market position has Samsung re-thinking its approach to TV sets, and is likely a big factor at play in its decision to approach LG about its OLED screens. Integrating OLED technology into Samsung’s high-end sets would allow it to further gain additional market share while also charging a premium compared to its QLED and lower-end LED sets.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).