Tuesday, 12 January 2016 12:35

OLED screens to lead in 2016

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OLED has more saturated colours, deeper blacks and vibrant whites OLED has more saturated colours, deeper blacks and vibrant whites

As prices of OLED screens reduce they are finding their way into wearables, notebooks, and soon desktop monitors. Let’s not forget the battle of the TV screen as well.

The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show highlighted four new OLED laptops (or hybrids) and from all reports the colour, clarity, deep blacks, and vibrant whites were ‘jaw dropping’.

You may not think that adding an OLED display to a laptop or tablet is significant but once you see it, use it and ogle over it you can never go back. My next laptop will have an OLED display, there is no doubt about it.

Dell showed off its Alienware 13; Lenovo the ThinkPad X1 Yoga; HP the Spectre x360 13” 2560x1600; and Samsung the 12” Galaxy TabPro S. Samsung is rumoured to be providing all these panels.

The problem is, as with any early adopters, OLED’s price represents a fair hike over traditional IPS/TFT /LED/LCD screens – estimates are about a US$200 premium for a 13” panel – and that’s a bold move in fiscally tricky times.

Is OLED that good?

Yes. With OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) each pixel emits its own light and can turn off giving pitch black vastly improving contrast for a more realistic, vibrant image. Is demonstrably better.

Newer OLED can reproduce a wider colour gamut – standard LCD can reach around 70% and OLED can get close to 100%. We are all so used to looking at LCD that OLED can look over saturated and too vivid – but it’s the more accurate.

Samsung is leading the pack making more varieties of smaller OLED panels and it is not afraid to sell to others – Apple is reportedly looking to Samsung’s OLED for the iPhone 7 for its quality and battery saving characteristics.

Rival LG is making some amazing OLED TV screens and is getting yields now that allow it to sell to other OEMs.

But there has been substantial investment in OLED manufacturing by over 40 manufacturers and costs are coming down.

Still analysts suggest that at 24”, 4K OLED would cost at least $2000 at present rates – a long way from the quite functional $100 LCD monitors today.

The advantages of OLED (contrast, response, colour, energy saving, and more) are however not relevant to every type of computer user. LED is still better for office use when the image is mostly white (documents, spread sheets) with static screen colours, and response times are not an issue.

OLED screens appeal to users whose main interest is in videos and/or gaming. Alienware’s 13” is obviously a premium gaming rig but purists will say the 13” screen is too small.

"There are things about OLED that give you a cool visual experience, but there also things that you need to get right to make it interesting," said Mike Nash, vice president of portfolio strategy at HP. “Applications like movie-making or graphics could benefit from OLED screens. Features like 3D cameras could also drive interest in better screens.”

Problem is that after OLED you will never want to go back! Wikipedia has a good read on this technology.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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