Samsung Displays Sets the Future for Tablets

This week, most of the team was at CES in Las Vegas, so we were unable to get a full issue out of both our newsletters, so we’ve created a combined issue, rather than missing a week. We have always promised 48 issues per year, although we exceed that each year, to allow for the effects of having to cover shows such as CES and IFA.

Next week, we’ll get out our full report on the event, but we’ve put some highlights together for this issue. From last year’s team of two reporters, we had five this time, so there will be a different balance in our coverage. The bigger team was also more efficient as we could reduce the amount spent between the various venues and hotel suites.

My personal highlight was very clear. Last year, Samsung Display was showing a flexible OLED that was really amazing, but the company swore us to secrecy. That was very frustrating, although some details were released after an investor’s conference in September and we were able to report that.

This January, we were not banned from reporting on the display, but were not allowed to take pictures. The product idea that really excited us was a “tri-fold” flexible display that was about the size of a large smartphone or phablet, although somewhat thicker. The exciting part is when you unclip the device, it becomes a 10″ tablet. Now, a 10″ tablet that fits in your pocket is something that will really transform the out of home tablet user. I remarked that the user is not likely to want to open up the clips to see inside for simple messages, and there was frantic scribbling as we talked about the kind of display that needs to be on the outside.

A second design showed a phablet-sized flip phone that folded in half. Unlike previous flip phones, this one had almost all the “inner” surface as a single display.

A third demonstration showed the same display being rolled and unrolled continuously on a spool. We heard last year that full bend testing had been done for 100,000 bends (hmmm…. by a strange coincidence (?), that’s the same number that Cambrios quotes in the testing of its silver nanowire materials!).

The only, slight, downside is that the minimum bend radius is around 10mm, so where there is a bend, the phone tends to be quite thick.

Performance is what you would expect from an OLED, and the basic display was used in the Galaxy Note Edge, so it’s good. We were concerned about durability, but the firm told us that it would be as good as the Note Edge.

On the big display side, Samsung was also showing a “video wall” arrangement of 2 X 2 55″ OLED transparent displays. These are rated as having 30% transmission, with a target of 50%. There should be a big demand for systems based on this kind of display for high end stores, hotels and corporate reception areas. Having live video and data on a transparent screen has been the dream of architects and designers for a long time. They hate the “black hole” effect of traditional large displays. (of course, transparent displays can’t really produce black – we discussed the idea of using a liquid crystal shutter just for this purpose!)

It looks as though the world won’t have to wait long for these new concepts to come to life.

It’s amazing to me that such exciting new products are possible and will make today’s tablets, phones and public displays look obsolete in just a few years.