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8K OLED TVs could finally enter the mainstream – here's how

Sony 48-inch A9
(Image credit: Sony)

TCL has unveiled a 65-inch 8K OLED TV made through its inkjet-printing panel process, heralding the future of affordable OLED screens as it gears up for mass production.

According to Chinese business outlet Yicai, TCL has shown off a 65-inch 8K OLED prototype ahead of its upcoming OLED range – even hinting that production could begin in 2022, a whole year earlier than initially announced by the manufacturer.

8K TVs with OLED hold an almost-mythical place in today's TV market. While they certainly exist, models bundling together 8K resolution and OLED panel technology are so rare – and so expensive – that hardly anyone has yet had the privilege of experiencing one.

Even those shopping for this year's Black Friday TV deals likely won't have much luck finding good discounts on these ultra-premium screens.

That could be about to change, though. TCL is set to kick off production at its upcoming 8.5 Gen fab ('fab' being a site for the assembly of parts in TV manufacture) in the near future.

The new factory is dedicated wholly to inkjet OLED printing – a process by which OLED panels are effectively printed between panes of glass, rather than traditional 'white OLED' (WOLED) panels found in today's OLED televisions, which require a more material-intensive production process. 

Back in 2019, market analyst firm IHS Markit (now known as Omdia) predicted that a move to inkjet printing could see a 15-25% cost reduction to existing OLED TV retail prices. That could see entry-level launch prices for OLED drop from around $1,200 / £1,200 to well below the $1,000 / £1,000 mark, and offer real competition to the current market leader in OLED TV production, LG Display.

But the real savings could be at the high end, with 8K OLED TVs bringing the pinnacle of panel and resolution technology to semi-affordable prices.

Price, price, baby

These days, an 8K OLED TV from LG can set you back $12,999 / £12,999 at a 77-inch size, going up to $19,999 / £19,999 for an 88-inch model. With that projected discount, 8K OLED screens could go for four-figure sums by 2024 – not a paltry figure, of course, but a sign of positive changes to come.

As TCL enter the OLED market, too, there could well be a knock-on effect for LG's OLED TV range, with the latter market leader forced to drop prices to catch up. Either way, prices are dropping, and will continue to drop, and by 2030 8K OLED could hold a similar place as 4K OLED does now.

TCL's Europe Product Development Director, Marek Maciejewski, also tells us that their new factory is able to cut screens for 55 inch TVs, 65 inch TVs, and so on – all the way up to 110 inches. So even if you have the budget for the LG Z1 OLED, TCL may be able to offer similar technology at a far larger size without ramping up the cost.

Henry St Leger

Henry is TechRadar's News & Features Editor, covering the stories of the day with verve, moxie, and aplomb. He's spent the past three years reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as well as gaming and VR – including a stint as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.