According to WitsView, a division of TrendForce of Taiwan, some manufacturers have focused on the development of miniLED, expecting it to become a transitional product before micro-LED is ready for mass production. The architecture of miniLED is similar to that of current LED backlighting in LCD displays, so no major change in the design is needed. However, miniLED will face direct competition from OLED in the sector of consumer electronics such as smartphones and TVs. In the short term, large-size TV and high-end IT products will be the segments where miniLED has the chance to compete with OLED.
Regarding the TV market, OLED colour patterning technique are not mature yet, while the material utilisation rate of the current evaporation process is only 20-30%. In fact, if evaporation is used to make full-colour TVs, problems include low yield and material utilisation rates. Therefore, WOLED is the main technique used currently, which consists of yellow/green and blue light-emitting units being used to emit white light, then colour filters being used to present full colour. This architecture still has advantages in contrast and thickness. However, miniLED with a quantum dot film backlight may achieve the same level of colour saturation as WOLED.
Taking a 65″ Ultra HD OLED TV panel as an example, the production cost is probably between $950 and $1,000. Comparatively, a 65″ UHD panel with miniLED backlighting, which uses 30,000-40,000 LEDs, costs between $900 and $1,000 to produce. Since power consumption is not a priority for TV manufacture and the cost of miniLED is actually similar to that of OLED, miniLED does have an opportunity in the market. Recently, first-tier makers such as Samsung Electronics and LG have demonstrated related products or announced that they plan to launch large-size miniLED TVs and commercial displays.
WitsView notes that, where costs are not a priority for vendors, miniLED has a better chance of being adopted. Current devices using miniLED include the 10.1″ automotive display shown by Innolux at CES 2018, as well as the 27″ LCD gaming monitor, 15.6″ notebook and 2″ VR display launched by AUO recently. miniLED technology has more opportunities in niche markets, where product prices are higher.
Inevitably, IT products are used for word processing from time to time, so the problem of burn-in caused by long-lasting static images remains an issue for OLED, Witsview said. In 2016, adoption by smartphone makers is a priority for Samsung’s OLED panel business, which will mean the company misses an opportunity to enter the IT market. In recent years, with the increasing size and revenue of the gaming market, IT product vendors are eager to launch gaming products with added value. In addition, HDR standards have been applied to PC monitors recently, and the local dimming capabilities of miniLED can better replicate HDR. Therefore, high-end IT products will be one of several segments where miniLED has the chance to compete with OLED from the same starting point.