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WTF is OLED META?

Samsung’s introduction of QD-OLED TVs is putting pressure on LG’s OLED dominance – their response: OLED META. Find what it’s all about

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After introducing the first large-screen OLED TV in 2013, LG has dominated the OLED TV market. With the ability to display exceptional picture quality which includes accurate color and the ability to display absolute black, LG has been in a comfortable position in regard to its market penetration but that may be changing in 2023. 

OLED TV Tech in a Nutshell

LG OLED Diagram

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. Organic LEDs are self-emitting; meaning that when with provided electric current they produce their own light and contain image information. In OLED TVs, they are used in place of an LED backlight and LCD panel, as they provide the necessary capability to display images without those extra internal components. To dig deeper into OLED TV tech refer to our companion article: WTF is OLED?

The Samsung QD-OLED Threat To LG 

Samsung Electronics is the world’s largest TV maker both in manufacturing and sales and although their TV lineup is dominated by LCD-based models (LED/LCD, QLED, Neo-QLED) they put everyone on notice in 2022 that they also have the ability to take on LG with their own OLED technology derivative, QD-OLED, using panels made by its sister company Samsung Display

QD-OLED TV Tech in a Nutshell

QD-OLED stands for Quantum Dot with Organic Light Emitting Diode

Quantum Dots: These are nanocrystals with semiconductor properties. When a quantum dot nanocrystal is hit with photons from a light source (in the case of QD-OLED TVs, light from a blue OLED panel) the dot emits the color of a specific bandwidth, which is determined by its size. Larger dots emit light that is skewed toward red. As the dots get smaller, the dots emit light that is skewed toward green.

QD-OLED technology combines Quantum Dots with OLED. This means that just like LG’s OLED TVs, there is no need for an LCD panel to display images. QD-OLED represents a different solution to achieve the same goal: to provide the best possible TV picture quality. To dig deeper into QD-OLED TV tech, refer to our companion article: WTF is QD-OLED?

QD OLED Diagram

LG vs Samsung – The Battle Heats Up

LG and Samsung have always been aggressive competitors but LG has been ahead of the game in regard to OLED TV technology. However, Samsung’s introduction of QD-OLED in 2022 (a year earlier than expected) shook up the TV landscape as the first models garnered mostly positive reviews, and as a result of the initial success of their 2022 models,  the 2nd generation is now available for 2023

Of course, LG was none too pleased with QD-OLED and Samsung’s role in bringing it to the market. So far, QD-OLED is not a big part of Samsung’s TV revenue as it only consists of a limited number of models (6 for 2023). However, when combining its QD-OLED TV line with the rest of its TV line, Samsung is the number one TV maker in the world in terms of TV shipments and sales. Hisense might not be as popular in the U.S. as Samsung or LG — but is has become the number two TV manufacturer based on the same criteria.

OLED META

In a strategy to keep Samsung at bay (or at least minimize its impact on the OLED TV market), LG Display, the sister company of LG electronics, has countered with innovations to extend the capabilities of its own OLED TV platform. 

OLED vs. META

Tip: LG Display makes the OLED panels that are used by LG Electronics and several other TV brands (Sony, Panasonic, Philips, and more) in manufacturing actual OLED TVs. 

LG Display’s label for its OLED solution designed to counter Samsung’s QD-OLED is OLED META. This label adds two technology components to LG’s current OLED platform: MLA (Micro Lens Array) and META Booster

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MLA

OLED MLA (Micro Lens Array) panels use a layer of convex lenses that are placed on top of the OLED pixels. LG Display claims to be able to place 5,000 microlenses on a single pixel, or 42.4 billion on a 77-inch TV. The number of microlenses depends on the panel size and pixel density.

MLA Micro Lens Array Example

OLED panels that incorporate MLA technology support high light output (LG Display claims a potential maximum brightness level of up to 2100 nits – 30% brighter than their brightest 2022 models). MLA-equipped panels are designed to replace the second generation of deuterium-based “OLED EX” panels that debuted in 2022

META Booster

MLA is an already significant advance, but in addition, LG Display is also offering up what it refers to as “META Booster” technology to work in combination with MLA to boost brightness and color reproduction even further.

Meta Booster Logo

LG Display’s META Booster is an algorithm that analyzes and adjusts the brightness of each scene in real-time. This results in enhanced HDR (High Dynamic Range) by extending the display of brighter highlights and deeper darks further which also results in more accurate color at both bright and dark levels beyond what OLED has been capable of so far.

From Hyeon-woo Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of LG Display’s Large Inch Division: “With the innovative META technology, LG Display is once again redefining TV picture quality by achieving a maximum brightness of 2,100 nits, the highest brightness of any TV display currently available on the market

META OLED Panel Benefits

Panel Brightness: The MLA components extend OLED panel capabilities. In a traditional OLED, much of the light produced to display images is lost to internal reflection within the panel. MLA solves that problem by using microlens patterns. A by-product is that increased brightness can be achieved without increasing power consumption as the lens array is passive, requiring no extra power to produce its effect.

Also, the META Booster algorithm refines the image display process further by making adjustments on a scene-by-scene basis so that the OLED panel’s changing brightness levels are more precise. 

Viewing Angle: OLED META  panels also improve viewing angles. The angle at which brightness is reduced to half of the peak brightness has been improved by up to 30%, resulting in a wider viewing angle of 160 degrees, providing sharp images without distortion at any angle.

Burn-In Reduction: One of the weaknesses of OLED (and QD-OLED for that matter) is screen burn-in under certain conditions. OLED panels with META technology reduce this effect by enabling an OLED panel to display increased brightness in a more passive fashion so that the core OLED panel doesn’t have to actively increase brightness. This means that the lenses focus on the light that is already emitted by the panel. By minimizing the need to turn up the brightness of the actual OLED panel, higher brightness levels can be accessed while minimizing burn-in.

2023 LG G3 OLED 4K TV Front

OLED META Implmentation

LG Display is making OLED META panels available for use in 77 and 88-inch 8K TVs, 55, 65, and 75-inch 4K UHD TVs, and 27 and 45-inch PC and Gaming monitors. 

To get things started the following TVs models are incorporating OLED META technology in its 2023 55, 65, and 77-inch models using panels made by LG Display:

Tip: The Philips and Panasonic models are not available in the U.S.  

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With its OLED META strategy, LG is definitely not planning to let Samsung limit its OLED TV panel market share or peel off brand partners that buy their OLED panels. So far, Sony and Samsung are the other only companies making QD-OLED TVs, but that could grow. For example, Sony buys OLED panels from LG and QD-OLED panels from Samsung, but will that continue if Sony’s QD-OLED models outsell their traditional OLED models? 

To give an idea of how seriously LG wants to stop Samsung’s advance, LG Display has inked a deal to borrow the equivalent of 770 million dollars from its LG Electronics sister company. Although it has not been revealed how the money will be spent, let’s face it, the only logical answer is that LGD is planning to pour most of it into OLED R&D (Research and Development). 

Also, while Samsung is the current threat, TCL also wants to get into the OLED game with IJP OLED (Inkjet Printed OLED), but that is another story…

OLED META Branding

In terms of marketing labels, one thing that could end up being confusing for consumers is that although LG Display refers to their new technology strategy as OLED META, that doesn’t mean TV makers buying the high-end panels from LG Display will use that term in their own marketing campaigns. 

So far Panasonic is using the term “Master OLED Ultimate” and LG Displays’ own sister company LG Electronics doesn’t seem to be using the label, instead using the term “Brightness Booster MAX”.

Just as TV makers use different names for features such as motion processing, content sharing, etc… prepare yourself with a possible flood of new terms used in promoting specific TV brands that actually refer to the same OLED META  technology.  

Also, keep in mind that some TV makers may offer both OLED and QD-OLED TVs in their product line as is the case with Sony. In addition, Samsung is causing additional confusion by using the label OLED TV for its QD-OLED TVs. Although QD-OLED TVs use OLED TV tech, the way it’s applied is different than the OLED TV tech made by LG Display and used by other TV makers. Samsung caused similar market issues when they started labeling their LCD TVs that use LED backlighting as LED TVs instead of the more precise term LED/LCD TVs. 

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