OLED And LED Display Technologies: A Comparison

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Organic LEDs or OLEDs are the next-generation display technology, and offer multiple benefits over the widely available LEDs. They do have a few drawbacks though.

By Deepshikha Shukla

Most televisions on the market today are LED TVs. They are also called LED-backlit LCDs, as the LEDs are only used as the backlight for these TVs. Organic LED (OLED) is the next-generation display technology, offering improved performance and design. OLED TVs are slowly gaining market share, hindered currently by the high production costs due to the low production volumes.

OLED displays vs LED displays
The OLED display has an LED that is made of organic material. There are two types of OLED displays—active-matrix light-emitting diodes (AMOLEDs) and passive light-emitting diodes (POLEDs). Some of the inherent benefits of OLED screens are that they can be extremely thin, bendable, foldable, and even rollable. But the biggest benefit when compared to LED TVs is that each pixel receives its luminance and power, whereas LEDs’ persistent pixels require an external source of light in order to be seen.

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In terms of picture quality, OLED TVs beat LED TVs, even though LED technology has seen many improvements. OLED displays are also lighter and thinner, use less energy, and offer the best viewing angle so far. OLED TVs produce considerably less blue light, so they are a healthier option compared to LED TVs.

OLED screens consume less power and offer a variety of screen sizes – much more than LED displays. The former’s ability to produce deeper blacks allows for higher contrast and richer colours, and thus a more realistic and dazzling image, making OLED screens the winner.
OLED displays have a higher response time, refresh rate (can switch on and off much faster than LEDs) and input lag. The response time refers to how long it takes for each pixel to change states (colour and brightness). With a faster response time, we get less motion blur and fewer artifacts.

LED displays are cheaper and less susceptible to screen burn-in compared to OLED screens. An LED TV’s backlights can be made brighter by using large and powerful LEDs. Yet, OLED displays are brighter than LED variants because of the organic material used in the former. But OLED displays face challenges due to variations in colour balancing and are non-resistant to water.

AMOLED displays vs LED displays
There are many advantages that AMOLED displays offer, when compared to regular LED-LCD screens due to which they are gaining popularity. Some of them are as follows.

  • Energy efficiency: AMOLED displays are more energy-efficient than LED and other types of displays. As they emit light without generating too much heat, the energy loss due to heat transfer is less. This means the screen can achieve high levels of power efficiency, leading to better battery life. Being energy efficient, eco-friendliness is another advantage of AMOLEDs.
  • AMOLED displays are thinner, lighter and more flexible than any other displays that use LED and LCD technology. This thinness also produces brighter luminescence compared to LEDs, and enables a variety of display sizes.
  • Greater contrast ratios: This is the ratio of the luminance of white colour to the black colour of a display unit.
  • Produce brighter colours: The blacks are darker than in the case of LEDs and LCDs because parts of the screen can be switched off altogether; and since no backlight is used in the LEDs, we get deep blacks.
  • Consume less power: AMOLED screens consume less power than OLED and LED displays. This makes them more appropriate for use in portable consumer electronic devices, for which battery life is of critical importance.
  • Wider viewing angles: AMOLEDS do not limit side views and offer much better viewing angles as compared to LCD options.
  • AMOLEDs have a faster response time and refresh rate as compared to PMOLEDs. So they provide a more vivid picture quality, and render faster motion response as compared to other display technologies such as LCDs.

Despite their growing popularity, there are some perceived disadvantages of AMOLED screens.

  • Shorter life span: Organic material degrades faster than LEDs and LCDs. So AMOLED displays have a shorter life span than that of LED or LCD displays.
  • Higher cost: It’s still more expensive to manufacture large AMOLED displays than regular LED-LCD ones. This is tied to higher manufacturing costs, as compared to other display technologies. The individual parts of the same display can also be costlier, and assembling them remains much more expensive than the expense involved in LCD manufacturing.
  • AMOLED displays are vulnerable to screen burn-in whereby the pixel quality deteriorates very badly after a while because of the degradation of the organic molecules. To combat this, many AMOLED display makers are introducing auto-dim parts of the screen for long-duration brightness areas. An LED display’s single backlight means that colour balance remains more consistent across the display.
  • Less durable: One of the disadvantages of the AMOLED screen compared to the LCD options is that it is difficult to view in direct sunlight due to reduced maximum brightness and lack of backlighting. There have been several workarounds to this problem, including reducing the size of gaps between the layers of a screen to reduce reflectivity.
  • Organic compounds are also highly susceptible to water damage, unlike light diodes or inorganic crystalline. The result is the immediate loss of some colours, which manifests itself by burn-in or dead pixels. This susceptibility makes sealing processes an important consideration in fabrication and manufacturing.

Being the latest technology available, AMOLEDs are being actively explored by many device makers due to their incredible performance. Manufacturers are learning more about consumer preferences for AMOLEDs and developing new ways to extend their life span.
AMOLEDs are widely used in all industries as they can be easily embedded into a display of any size. They find use in mobiles, laptops, TVs, smartwatches, tablets, portable music players, game consoles, music production hardware, and digital cameras.

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