Are OLED displays the future of televisions?
Replacement in TVs: soon there will be no more OLED technology in top models?
My wife Arlette used to say my brain was like a sponge floating in dishwashing water: you're not sure what it absorbs, but sometimes you squeeze it and something interesting comes out.
I've been looking at premium televisions and the panels on them a lot lately - looking at them, doing interviews, discussing and writing about them. Now let's squeeze the sponge and see what comes out of it.
The future of OLEDs
Ken Werner is the head of Nutmeg Consultants, specializing in the display industry, manufacturing, engineering and applications, including mobile, automotive and TV. He advises lawyers, investment analysts and companies that are repositioning themselves within the display industry or using displays in their products.
The future of OLEDs as the ultimate premium TV technology is limited. I don't mean that the large-format OLEDs are disappearing. Production capacity, sales and market share increase and prices decrease; and it will stay that way for years. But very soon, OLED will no longer be the display technology people choose to get the best possible picture. A senior Sony company who makes both OLED and premium LCD TVs recently told me that OLED will be the entry-level technology in the premium segment going forward. (He said this was his personal opinion, not an official Sony position, so I don't mention his name here).
Why it is like that? Because even a high-quality OLED has to work hard to achieve 1000 cd / m on just 10 percent of its screen area2 bright spot. This was not a problem as long as even expensive films with a maximum of 1000 cd / m2 were mastered. But the standard is constantly shifting towards 4000 cd / m2. And if current OLED televisions have the content of 4000 cd / m2 to a color volume of 1000 cd / m2 or less, the extreme compression affects the color fidelity. The color differences are sometimes compressed to such an extent that details that are mainly intended to be conveyed through color details are washed out or completely lost. An inexperienced observer may not know what exactly is happening, but the loss of resolution can often not be overlooked.
High-quality, locally dimmable HDR LCD TVs with color-enhancing quantum dots or red-green phosphors are now aiming at 2000 cd / m2 or more. The larger color volume means that that of 4000 cd / m2 outgoing tone mapping is much gentler - the screen displays prove this.
LCD instead of OLED in film production
But how do filmmakers actually produce HDR4000 content with production monitors such as the Sony BVM-X300 4K OLED mastering monitor, which has a peak luminance of 1000 cd / m2 and a warning light that lights up at lower brightness levels to signal when you are too close to 1000 cd / m2 device to ensure color fidelity? As one filmmaker recently said, "You don't like outputting pixels that you haven't seen before." The answer is: you don't. The BVM-X300 has been the industry standard for years, but Sony is now launching its new dual-cell LCD monitor. The BVM-X300 is still available on request, but it cannot adequately represent the cinematic future - and neither can OLED televisions.
So what's next? Or maybe next.
The term even confuses people in the display business: A "MiniLED" TV is an LCD TV that can be upgraded with quantum dots or RG phosphors. MiniLED refers to the backlight design that uses many small (but not "micro") LED chips in a polymer layer or optics for backlighting with many local zones - typically around 5000 in current TV prototypes. This enables an excellent contrast to be achieved and (as far as I could see it in trade fair environments) the dreaded halo effect (blooming) eliminated. This has proven to be a major problem for premium LCDs with only a few hundred dimming zones. You will soon see such MiniLED displays in devices, but all these LED chips in a TV-sized display are reflected in the material list.
Dual cell LCD TV
With this technology, there is a monochrome LCD panel behind the usual color LCD panel. The black and white panel modulates the light and can be used to provide as many dimming zones as desired up to the number of pixels in the colored (front) panel. Hisense used for the prototype of such a television with a BOE panel and quantum dots. The results were spectacular (in a trade fair environment), with OLED-like black tones on a matt screen surface and LCD-like highlights.
There has been some speculation that the technology may be too expensive and have too little light output for entertainment devices, but that thinking is changing. Hisense says the light output drops from the usual six percent (roughly) to about four percent. That won't bother the buyer of a premium TV. Hisense promises a launch next year. BOE was not the only exhibitor of dual-cell LCDs at this year's Display Week. CSOT also showed one. (And Display Daily reported that Hisense will be using an Innolux panel).
MicroLED microdisplays are already on the market, but the production of large displays requires micro-transfer printing or an equivalent technique that removes 24 million microLED chips from their semiconductor wafers onto the TV substrate with extremely high reliability (99.99999999 to 99, 999999999%) in about 30 minutes per panel. Industry is only about two 9s (99.999999%) away from reliability, but still orders of magnitude from transmission speed. I would say we are three to five years away from a pilot line on TV, but others claim that the problems are closer to a solution than it seems. At CES, Samsung showed a beautiful technology demo, but it did very is far from being a product.
The other technologies that don't have the space here ...
Okay, Ken. Press the sponge tighter. What will your next TV be? I look at the dual-cell LCD TV with quantum dots. It's already within my grasp and I like the idea of watching films with the same technology that they were mastered with. (uk)
This post first appeared on Display Daily.
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