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Is OLED the Future of HDTV?

written by: •edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 10/5/2009

Is OLED the next big thing in HDTV? Find out what OLED is and how it offers an improvement over LCD and Plasma technology in this article.

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    What is OLED?

    In case you are wondering OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode. This technology uses organic compounds in a thin layer. Each one can emit a different colour. OLED displays stack up these thin layers and voltage is applied to stimulate the organic material which emits light. The process is called electrophosphorescence. The various organic compounds are treated differently so they emit different colours and different types are placed on the same layer to create a colour display. The amount of electricity applied determines the intensity or brightness of the light.

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    Why is OLED Better than LCD?

    There are many reasons that OLED technology offers a big improvement over LCD.

    • OLED displays do not require a backlight so they can be much thinner than LCDs. In fact they can be as little as a quarter of an inch thick.
    • Since they don’t use backlighting they can display much deeper black levels than an LCD.
    • OLED displays use much less power than LCDs.
    • OLED displays have a much higher contrast ratio than LCDs.
    • OLED technology can be applied to flexible materials, so you could have an OLED display on clothing or a screen that you can roll up.
    • OLED displays are incredibly light in weight.
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    Types of OLED

    There are various types of OLED technology but when it comes to televisions and computer monitors the type that you should look out for is AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode). There are also Passive Matrix OLEDs and while they are easier to produce they consume more power. Other types of OLED which could lead to all sorts of weird and wonderful applications are Transparent OLEDs and Flexible OLEDs. There are also Top and Bottom-Emitting OLEDs and White OLEDs which are used for lighting.

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    The Development of OLED

    Samsung OLED AMOLED technology is already being used for mobile phones like the Samsung S8300 UltraTouch. Both Sony and Samsung have released devices using OLED technology and they have demonstrated prototype large TVs. Sony were first to release a consumer TV based on OLED when they released the 11 inch Sony OLED XEL-1.

    Samsung has developed the largest OLED TV so far at 40 inches. It supports full 1080p high resolution, has a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 and an incredible 107% NTSC colour reproduction. Samsung also showed off the thinnest OLED display developed so far at just 0.05mm, which is thinner than paper.

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    The Future for OLED

    OLED products are still in their infancy and the prices are premium. The big manufacturers can only bring prices down by manufacturing on a large scale and they won’t start to do that until they are convinced the market is ready. Along with Samsung and Sony, LG and Philips are currently investing in developing OLED products and the rest of the industry will probably follow suit.

    The benefits are obvious and when the technology becomes affordable people will be desperate to get their hands on it. A better quality picture in a thinner, more lightweight device which consumes less power, what more could you ask for? I suppose there is the outside chance that 3D TV will be the next big thing but I’m betting on OLED.