The 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) revealed and showcased the latest TV technologies. This year, the focus was on the latest HDTV evolution: OLED TV. This new technology is the most notable advancement in TV production since HDTV first burst onto the market. OLED has just stepped up the game, with various major manufacturers developing bigger screens and even better picture quality than that of previous HDTVs. OLED TV is also far more energy-efficient than any previous technology. How does it actually work and what makes it better than traditional HDTV?

An acronym for “organic light-emitting diode”, an OLED is much the same as a traditional LED. The difference between the two is that OLED provides light via organic materials within the diode. When an electric current is applied to the material, it lights up. Only three colors are required to produce a picture on your TV screen. These organic materials naturally produce red, green, and blue when stimulated. No other technology produces light in such a way. Each pixel on the screen comprises an OLED. Liquid crystal display (LCD) screens utilize color filters and a backlight to produce a color picure. Plasma screens make use of ignited gas to create red, blue, and green colors.

What makes this new development so beneficial? For one thing, OLED technology allows for a much thinner viewing surface. LG unleashed its 55-inch set this year at CES. The TV weighs only 16.5 pounds and is about as thick as the width of a pencil. OLED also offers incredible contrast and color reproduction because it’s capable of producing an absolute black by shutting off pixels, creating an infinite contrast ratio. OLED TVs are also extremely energy-efficient and can even be made flexible.

There are currently two avenues in the OLED spectrum: White OLED, or “WOLED,” and RGB OLED. They function in much the same way; however, WOLED utilizes special light filters to produce white light, which is then converted into red, blue, and green. RGB OLED uses separate OLED subpixels to produce these colors. WOLED has the potential for a longer life span. In an article on CNET, Major manufacturer LG was quoted as saying that while “long-life testing is still under way, we believe our WOLED will perform quite well vis-à-vis other displays.” WOLED is currently easier to manufacture than RGB OLED, which means it will be cheaper. It also has the potential for scaling up to a 4K Ultra-HD resolution, which is likely to become more popular over the next few years.

It appears that OLED TV is set to take off during the course of the next year. We can expect to start seeing the prices drop after the first-generation sets have left the shelves. There’s much to look forward to in the way of realistic TV viewing, but it may be worth waiting a while before you rush off to buy an OLED TV.