OLED vs Dual-LCD vs Micro-LED
Excellent image sharpness with breathtaking details, brilliant colors and a gigantic contrast from deep black to brilliant white: televisions have reached a remarkable level of quality to let you watch your favorite doramas, sport events or movies. Several screen technologies are competing for the best picture quality. The first flat screens had to catch up with CRTs in terms of quality, then LCD and plasma engaged in fierce competition. Currently, Samsung’s QLED TV, an LCD version, is fighting the superiority of the other manufacturers with their OLED TVs. But what will happen next? In the manufacturers’ laboratories, a wide variety of concepts are about to go into series production – further developments of current screen technologies as well as completely new approaches. We took a look behind the scenes and explains how the different technologies work, where their advantages and disadvantages lie, and if and when we can expect products that are ready for series production.
OLED: Extreme contrast and super thin
The comparatively young OLED technology has reached an enormous quality level within a few years, colors and contrast set standards. The maximum brightness is now at a good level, but the best LCD TVs shine even brighter. This will not change in the short term. However, because OLED TVs can perfectly reproduce deep blacks, the contrast is enormously high despite the slowed maximum brightness. For movie fans, OLED TVs will therefore remain a good choice in the next few years. Thanks to a new LG Display factory in China, the number of units will also increase, which could lower the prices below 1,000 Euros. In addition, smaller OLED variants with 48 inches (122 centimeters) will be launched by LG and Sony this year. At the other end of the price scale, the rollable LG OLED RX shows what is possible with this screen technology.
- OLED advantages: very good colors, large viewing angle, no annoying streaks thanks to short switching times.
- OLED disadvantages: not super bright, only four sizes available from 48 to 77 inches (122 to 195 centimeters)
- Future prospects: For high-quality televisions also in the next few years a fixed size.
The resolution of the black-and-white screen can be lower, but it is usually two UHD screens. However, the backlight has to be extremely bright because a large part of the light is also lost in the white picture areas of the black-and-white LCD. This drives up power consumption: the just under 80-centimeter Sony BVM-HX310, a 42,000-euro monitor for film studios, draws up to 450 watts. Equally bright conventional LCD TVs get by with half that, even at a picture size of 140 centimeters. Panasonic and Hisense showed prototypes with this technology.
- Dual-LCD advantages: very high contrast, bright
- Dual-LCD disadvantages: high power consumption, small viewing angle.
- Future prospects: More interesting for movie studios than for living rooms.
Micro-LED: Perfect for giant screens
In micro-LED televisions, each individual pixel consists of three microscopically small light-emitting diodes. The same principle is used in giant advertising screens, only it is miniaturized for living room use; the individual LEDs are not even a hair’s breadth wide. This makes practically perfect picture quality possible, but large-scale production is expensive. TV screens can hardly be manufactured in one piece, instead they are made up of smaller modules.
Samsung wants to make a virtue out of this necessity and also offer special formats such as 21:9 TVs. In addition, an entire wall in the apartment can be precisely covered with micro-LED tiles, turning the entire wall into a large screen. For news, for example, only a small section can display the TV picture, while the rest of the micro-LED surface can be used for decoration.
- Micro-LED advantages: Outstanding brightness, colors and contrast
- Micro-LED disadvantages: only from 75 inches upward in UHD, production very expensive.
- Future prospects: Only for huge luxury TVs.
QD-OLED: Promising future prospects
With the combination of QLED and OLED technology, Samsung wants to combine the advantages of both display types: A blue OLED screen generates the monochrome image with all its brightness gradations. A filter matrix of quantum dots sits in front of it. These convert blue light very precisely into red and green. This creates the three primary colors from which screens can mix all color tones. Samsung expects the QD OLED screens to have a higher maximum brightness than OLED screens. Thanks to self-luminous pixels, contrast and viewing angle stability would be at OLED level. However, the first TVs are not expected until 2023 at the earliest.