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Samsung, the world’s biggest TV manufacturer, may be on the precipice of significantly shifting its strategy to focus on OLED technology. Samsung has not produced OLED TVs in recent years, focusing instead on variants of LED LCD technology.

The news comes from a report by Korean broadcaster MTN (among other South Korean news outlets), which says Samsung and LG have reached a conditional deal wherein Samsung would buy as many as 1 million OLED panels from LG this year and 4 million in 2022. MTN clarifies the deal is not yet final but says that only a few details are left to be worked out.

LG produces most of the world’s large-format OLED panels such as those used for TVs; its panels are not just used in LG TVs but also in TVs sold by Sony, Panasonic, and others. Samsung produces OLED panels also, but not at TV sizes. Samsung makes OLED panels for smartphones, and those panels use a different technology than what is seen in LG’s OLED TVs.

If Samsung does begin shifting at least a portion of its high-end TV lineup to OLED, it would represent a seismic shift in the industry. The past few years have seen LG dominating OLED television production (with a sizable chunk also sold by Sony) while the rest of the industry stuck to LCD panels, in part because they have historically been easier and more affordable to produce or acquire.

In the past year, more companies (like Vizo, for example) have begun shipping OLED TVs. But LCDs still account for the significant majority of the TVs shipped. OLED has been making major year-over-year gains, however.

Samsung has focused much of its product development and marketing efforts on espousing the benefits of LCD TVs compared to OLED, like superior HDR brightness, the lack of burn-in risk, and lower prices, because it competes fiercely with LG at the top end of the market.

Samsung has repeatedly positioned an emerging TV technology called Micro LED as its ultimate OLED killer. Micro LED TVs are said to offer similar peak brightness to LED TVs—as well as reduced burn-in risk compared to OLED—while still offering OLED’s chief picture quality advantage: per-pixel illumination and perfect black levels.

But it’s only this year that the first consumer Micro LED TVs are shipping, and Samsung has not yet been able to bring Micro LED TVs down to sizes suitable for most living rooms. The first wave of Micro LED TVs measure at 110 or 99 inches, though 88 and 78 inch sizes are planned. And that’s to say nothing of cost; as expensive as OLED can be, it’s getting more affordable by the year, and Micro LED will be out of most consumers’ price ranges for a while yet.

Samsung could still ultimately shift to Micro LED, but external factors may be forcing the company to look into OLED seriously in the meantime.

MTN says that Samsung is making the move because the dominance of various Chinese companies like BOE in producing LCD panels needed for Samsung’s current TVs has driven up the cost for South Korean companies, leading to the conclusion that Samsung may need to diversify to OLED. The outlet cites market research firm Omdia’s finding that 55-inch LCD panel prices increased 74% year over year.

The report also states that the meeting between Samsung and LG, both South Korean companies, was initially arranged by the South Korean government, but that the talks have progressed from there.

Samsung declined to confirm the development when MTN reached out for comment.

Listing image by Wikimedia Commons

After 30 years, a TV adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings long thought lost has resurfaced. The 1991 Soviet television adaptation has been uploaded to YouTube in two one-hour videos.

The film focuses on the events of the first book in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, and features many elements that were excluded from the popular global theatrical release by director Peter Jackson, including an extended sequence featuring the character Tom Bombadil—one of the biggest omissions by the bigger-budget 2001 film far more of us have seen.

Originally broadcast on TV in 1991 (and then never aired again), the film was thought lost to time by those who had seen it. But as reported in The Guardian, Leningrad Television successor Channel 5 uploaded the film to its YouTube page with little fanfare, surprising fans who had given up on seeing the production again. It is believed to be the only adaptation of these books produced in the Soviet Union.

For better or for worse, the primitive special effects and low budget are very apparent—moreso than in many other B movies of the time you may have seen. Grainy characters’ arms are cropped out in the middle of the frame as they are set against fuzzy fake backgrounds. And the film employs a visual language that is altogether alien to modern cinema, with sets and costumes that look more at home in a low-budget theatrical production and characters who gaze into the camera directly when they speak with eerie commitment.

In other words, an Andrei Tarkovsky masterwork it is not. But the nostalgia is strong, in particular thanks to the soundtrack by Andrei Romanov, who performed with the popular Russian rock group Akvarium.

Titled Khraniteli (“Keepers”), the film is believed to be based on a Russian-language translation of Tolkien’s work by Vladimir Muravyov and Andrey Kistyakovsky, and it is of course in Russian. But if you don’t speak Russian, fret not: YouTube’s autogenerated English closed captioning is adequate enough to give you the gist of what’s happening.

Part 1
Part 2

Listing image by 5TV