As the saying goes, if something’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Such was the case with a sketchy rumor from late July claiming that Apple was in negotiations with LG to supply 55-inch OLED panels for use in an HDTV it was secretly working on.
At the time, the story was was suspicious for a variety of reasons. First, it was sourced from Smarthouse. Second, LG’s 55-inch OLED panels aren’t even close to being in mass production with LG planning to launch them in limited supply by late 2012. Hell, LG isn’t even planning on showing them off until CES 2012 anyways.
Earlier today, a report from the Korea Times debunked the Apple HDTV/OLED rumors by injecting some common sense into an otherwise sensational story.
While the report confirms that Apple is indeed toying with the idea of manufacturing its own HDTV, it notes that such a product would feature an LCD screen as opposed to an OLED screen.
One source told the Times that Apple has issues with the higher costs and technology-related issues associated with large OLED displays. It’s therefore groundless, the source explained, “that Apple has asked LG Display to supply its OLED screens for its upcoming televisions.”
One of the benefits of OLED displays is that they allow manufacturers to churn out extremely thin devices – which undoubtedly appeals to Apple given their obsession for all things thin. But the disadvantages of large OLED displays are numerous and it’s not in Apple’s DNA to risk a brand new product on unreliable technology.
Some of the problems associated with OLED displays include screen burn-in (it’s like Plasma TVs all over again!), color balance issues, and a limited lifespan. Consequently, if Apple does ever release an HDTV, sources allegedly in the know tell the Times that Apple will opt for “picture quality-enhanced and tech-sharpened LCD displays.”
“Apple has a track record of sticking to proven technology in its products and it’s unlikely that Apple will change the years-long stance for televisions,’’ said another source who was only identified as a high-ranking industry executive…
“Apple has no interest in using OLED screens on its popular devices. The upcoming iPad 3 will also adopt picture quality-enhanced LCD screens, while the next iPhone will follow suit. Three or four more years will be needed to see OLED-embedded digital devices from Apple,” said a top-level executive from one of Apple’s suppliers.
It stands to reason that if Apple does release an HDTV, it won’t be the picture quality that attracts people’s attention. In today’s HDTV market, you can find a middle of the road model that is head and shoulders above what was top of the line even 2 years ago. Apple’s offering will undoubtedly be thin and offer a sharp 1080p display.
But what will truly differentiate an Apple HDTV, should it ever come to market, is its software. Again, this is all completely speculative, but some analysts have indicated that Apple is working on an HDTV that will integrate DVR, AppleTV, and iTunes functionality right into the set itself. Further, this rumored HDTV will also include support for the iTunes App Store and may even include FaceTime support as well.
A few weeks ago, one analyst claimed that Apple was modeling its HDTV after the 46-inch Bose VideoWave set and that apple was looking for ways to narrow down the number of associated cables to just one. Further, it was reported that Apple’s HDTV will come with 16 embedded speakers around the display to provide a complete surround sound experience.