Thoughts on Display Improvements

By Bob Raikes
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We have a short issue this week, especially LDM as we were flat out finishing the very lengthy report from ISE 2018. There was very little of interest to MDM readers, but we did pick out one or two items. I had hoped to get a bit more preparation for the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Press events are over the weekend, so it will mean a busy week. At the end of the week, we’ll be at the ECR in Vienna to check on displays for radiology, so it will be a couple of weeks before we get back to ‘being caught up’.

It will be interesting to see if there are some political protests in Barcelona. The locals in Barcelona are very aware that they have the attention of the world’s press during MWC and a couple of years ago there was a public transport strike during the event, so we can probably expect something next week. The current political situation, as I understand it, is that the separatists have the majority of deputies in the regional assembly, just, but there have been problems in forming a coalition against the government because of the range of political views and because of the disruption caused by the arrests of some deputies. For now, the region is being governed from Madrid directly.

The ISE was interesting, but really highlighted the relative lack of significant innovation that is likely, although there is lots of incremental progress. The great hope for the next stage of LED development has been Chip on Board (CoB) technology and now we have seen a couple of production products. What is apparent is that there are downsides to the technology as well as advantages and that may slow down progress. (In a nutshell, CoB is more robust and might, eventually, be cheaper, but has inferior contrast and brightness, at least at the moment). Samsung has tried to hype the term ‘MicroLED’, although what it has described as MicroLED, so far, i.e. the Wall in its TV and commercial versions, I would describe as small pitch LED or, perhaps, miniLED, but not microLED.

Now, I mentioned that the contrast of CoB technology is not as good as SMD LEDs. That’s not the case for the Sony Cledis LED, which has stunning visual performance, but the Sony has genuine microLEDs. And it’s very expensive, partly because each of the small modules that it is made of has processor power which effectively makes it a very large active matrix display.

So, LCD continues, LED remains expensive and OLED is not, really, suitable for most commercial applications. I also fear that OLED may be close to reaching its peak performance. I mentioned a week or two ago that although LG Display showed some very innovative OLEDs at CES, the core peak brightness performance of the mainstream panels has not changed significantly from the 2017 panel. In 25 years, I can’t remember a year when LCD didn’t offer a significant boost in performance.

Anyway, I need to get started on my MWC preparation, so, as one of my favourite radio commentators used to say, if you have been, thanks for listening!

Bob