‘Next-generation display’ OLED vs. Mini LED Comparative Analysis

Most modern computer monitors and TVs are equipped with edge-type LCD displays. It is fundamentally similar to the display products sold decades ago. But LCDs are not the future of displays. In today’s display market, Mini-LED and OLED are threatening the place of LCD.
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Which technology will dominate among OLED and mini-LED, and in what direction is the future display going? To get expert opinions, I spoke with Ross Young, CEO of display research firm Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), and David Wyatt, CTO of Pixel Display, a display manufacturer.


Brightness and HDR

In terms of brightness, the performance of mini LED is clearly ahead of OLED. The brightness of the latest OLED displays rarely exceeds 1,000 nits, and even if it does, the brightness cannot be maintained. RtingsAccording to our tests, LG’s C9 OLED TV doesn’t maintain a maximum brightness of more than 160 nits. On the other hand, mini LED displays such as Apple’s Liquid Retina XDR, Samsung Odyssey Neo G9, and Samsung QN90A TVs have peak brightness of over 1,000 nits and can maintain at least 600 nits.

Wyatt cited brightness as a major advantage of mini LEDs. Brightness of up to 10,000 nits is required to meet the highest HDR standards. Consumer mini LED displays released so far do not meet the highest HDR standards, but future displays are expected to be possible.

Micro LEDs use individual LEDs as per-pixel lighting elements, which allows for much higher performance. According to Wyatt, VividColor NanoBright technology developed by Pixel Display can reach up to 1 million nits. The brightness of 1 million nits is suitable for avionics displays with more demanding requirements than computer monitors or home TVs.

In conclusion, it seems that there is a good chance that HDR will develop in the future, and it is judged that mini-LED and micro-LED, not OLED, will lead HDR technology.


Contrast Ratio and Black Level

The biggest strength of OLED is the opposite of brightness, which is the strength of mini LED. Because OLED has the property of emitting light by itself, each pixel can be turned on and off individually, so it can express perfect black like deep pitch black. DSCC Young explained, “While mini LEDs clearly dominate in terms of supply and brightness, OLEDs do have superior contrast ratios (especially off-axis contrast ratios), relatively fast response times, and no halo effect.” The halo effect is a so-called blooming phenomenon in which light is generated around bright elements of the mini LED screen.

Combining these advantages of OLED, it is superior to mini LED in terms of contrast ratio and depth. Even looking at an OLED TV at a nearby store is enough to notice. High-quality content will look almost three-dimensional. It is almost as if the display is like a window that guides you to a world other than a flat panel.

There are also claims that the latest mini LED displays are comparable to OLEDs. Apple’s Liquid Retina Display XDR, for example, has a maximum contrast ratio of 1 million to 1. However, mini LEDs cannot match the contrast performance of OLEDs because they cannot control the individual lighting of the pixels. This fact will not change until microLEDs that control individual pixel lighting become mainstream.


Listening angle and movement performance

Mini LED improves the performance of traditional edge-type LCD displays by improving the backlight. However, since the LCD panel itself is almost the same as before, a common defect of LCD technology can also be found in the mini LED.

Display quality fluctuates with viewing angle and is severely blurred when displaying fast movement. All of these problems are inherent limitations of LCD technology. Since the liquid crystal does not block light evenly, the image looks different depending on the angle, and it takes a few milliseconds to respond to the charge, so the fast-changing image looks blurry or double.

Unlike LCD technology, OLED does not have liquid crystals that need to be twisted or moved. Each pixel is an organic element that produces its own light when an electric charge is applied, and the light is emitted in a relatively uniform shape. In addition, unlike LCD, the viewing angle and movement performance problems do not occur because the light turns on and off at an extremely fast rate. OLED is superior in terms of viewing angle and movement performance.


durability

The disadvantage of OLED technology, which dominates in contrast ratio and black level, viewing angle, and response time, is durability. Wyatt also pointed out the durability of OLED. The ‘O’ of OLED is the first letter of ‘Organic’, and it is a characteristic of organic materials to wear out while being used. OLEDs wear out when exposed to light itself, especially blue lightThis phenomenon is conspicuous in In other words, as time goes by, the light produced by the pixels of the OLED decreases.

This issue is often discussed in the context of burn-in or screen persistence. Burn-in is a phenomenon in which the quality of a specific pixel on the OLED panel is different from that of the surrounding pixels, resulting in a shadow on the image.

However, many OLED manufacturers take the burn-in issue lightly. In 2016, LG claimed that its OLED TVs could last 100,000 hours at full brightness until performance drops to half. LG said on its website “Use Reasonably and Responsibly” explained that burn-in does not occur. AltingsAs a result of burn-in tests conducted over 8 years, OLED quality is definitely degraded, but the degree of burn-in depends on how the display is used.

Compared to the advantages of OLED, some users will judge that the disadvantages are acceptable. However, if you want a display that you will use every day for more than 10 years, OLED is not the best choice. Burn-in is a real problem.


cost

Monitor prices have always been a problem for PC enthusiasts. The price of the monitor is directly related to production efficiency. Ross Young explained, “OLEDs in tablets and laptops are cheaper than mini-LEDs compared to Apple’s iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, but in monitors, they are more expensive and less bright than mini-LEDs.”

If you look at the hardware currently on the market, you can understand it. While OLED panels can be purchased at reasonable prices in laptops such as the Dell XPS 13 and Samsung Galaxy Book Pro, OLED panels for monitors are so expensive that most manufacturers cannot afford it. The LG UltraFine 32EP950, which was released in the United States, Japan, and Europe in June 2021, is priced at $3,999.99 (about KRW 4.78 million).

Although mini LEDs are expensive, they are relatively cheaper than OLEDs. Asus’ 32-inch ROG Swift PG32UQX (ROG Swift PG32UQX) can be purchased for 3 million won and Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 for 2 million won.

In terms of cost, it is highly likely that mini LED’s strength will continue for the time being. OLED prices depend on the availability of OLED panels, which are not produced as much as LCD panels. A company that wants to make a mini LED display can design the backlight independently of the LCD panel and select a panel based on the function and price. The price can be lowered even further, as manufacturers have many ways to mount mini-LED displays into laptops and monitors.

For standalone monitors, for the time being, mini LEDs are dominant in terms of price.


The future of display

Until now, it is impossible to differentiate between OLED and mini LED. Mini-LED leads in terms of brightness, HDR, durability, and price (for full-size monitors), while OLED leads in contrast ratio, black level, viewing angle, and movement performance. So, which technologies will dominate in the future?

The opportunity for OLED is highly likely to come along with the introduction of a new process. Young said, “The new process significantly lowers the manufacturing cost of 10-inch to 13-inch panels, so that the OLED process will have the same flexibility as the G8.5 LCD. It means that a single process can be applied in a variety of ways.” Panel production will begin in the new process as early as 2024.

Affordable OLED is attractive, but the future Wyatt envisions is different Wyatt believes that the micro LED technology promoted by pixel displays will combine the advantages of LCD and OLED and eliminate the advantages. However, micro LED is a technology that has no meaning until the late 2020s.

However, microLED will only become a more meaningful technology in the late 2020s. Right now, OLED will strive to improve brightness and durability, and mini-LED will continue to fight to increase the sophistication of the backlight to a level similar to that of OLED.

I think the future of mini LEDs is more promising, at least in the PC display market. The stable image, long lifespan, and constant brightness of the mini LED display contrast with the disadvantages of OLED. The downsides of OLEDs won’t be offset by lower prices. [email protected]


Source: ITWorld Korea by www.itworld.co.kr.

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