LG will finally offer a 42-inch OLED this year, and improvements in manufacturing could mean that the cost of smaller screens will drop in price. It’s unlikely we’ll get to see “bargain basement” OLEDs in the same way we do LCD screens. However, there could be some good news coming, especially with regard to the weird price disparity between 55 and 48-inch OLED screens.
The problem with low-cost OLEDs at the moment all comes down to efficiency. LG produces a large sheet of motherglass which, TechRadar reports, is a 2,500 x 2,200mm sheet from which your OLED TV is cut. The number of screens you can make from this motherglass has a huge impact on the cost of the final product, as less waste makes for a cheaper production process.
The 48-inch model costs a lot because initially LG was using motherglass left over from the 77-inch models. That meant the smaller TV was reliant on production of the much bigger display for production.
This year, the company is changing the whole system and will make eight of the 48-inch panels from a single motherglass. This should help the screens drop in price, but don’t expect miracles, the possibility of the 42 and 48-inch models being sub-$1000 is closer than ever.
Even with these efficiencies it’s likely that the price of the 42 and 48-inch screens will be quite similar to each other. That’s because the current production process means 55-inch panels use 90% of the motherglass, 48-inch panels use 91% and 42-inch screens will use just 70% according to Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC).
Those efficiencies mean that 48-inch TVs could reduce in price significantly in comparison to last year’s models. Don’t expect the 42-inch to beat it by a huge amount though as its yields are much worse. There are new techniques which could improve the 42-inch panel yield to 87%, but they come with additional production complexity, and therefore higher cost.
All of this is great news for people who need a smaller screen. Perhaps you simply don’t have room in your apartment for a hulking great 65-inch OLED and what something a bit smaller and manageable. And gamers might be drawn to these smaller screens too. Their 120Hz refresh rate, fantastic black levels and low-latency game modes make them a great choice for console gamers with healthy budgets.