December 02, 2015

AMOLED / OLED Monitors Finally Coming ! ?

OLED displays have been around for a while now and are a rapid growth industry right now with the added burst of 4k. Many of the CES type events in the last year featured OLED TV's and boasting 4k and curved displays which OLED really helps make a reality to begin with. First some back story to explain why this is.

I remember buying stock for PANL on the NYSE back at 18$/share before they were bought out a few times before becoming what they're listed as now which I think might actually be OLED on the NYSE... Anyway they were already developing flexible displays back then and I remember seeing a sci-fi movie called ultra violet with one of my favorite actresses Milla Jovavich in it at the time that led to my discovery of the stock. Back then flexible displays were nothing more than a novelty and only in small scenarios less than a smartphone. This however was an OLED technology already blowing my mind and I was excited to see what would come of it. As the years grew and AMOLED started showing up in smart phones and the PS Vita I was sure it was only a matter of time before I started seeing TV's and computer monitors. Yet for some reason things had stalled. In a fight among new display technologies to see what the next big thing was the competition ended up imploding on itself causing the entire industry to stagnate as I watched hopeful contenders disappear like one technology that had all the benefits of CRT on a small diode that could be stacked infinitely for any size screen provided you could handle the weight. People became content with fighting between IPS or TN panel LCD's with and without LED backlights with no real interest in OLED. I figured it must be a misunderstanding where people just didn't know about this amazing technology.

Now manufacturers started noticing a push for higher resolutions above full HD 1080p and somewhere along the line they latched on to 4k labeling it UHD and aiming to make it a reality. Though work began years ago to start this trend it was still well thought out but there was a problem when it came to making these screens. The processing power necessary and difficulties in manufacturing the displays themselves were significant enough that manufacturers had to start looking for better ways to produce these panels. This is when OLED started looking like an attractive and extremely viable alternative. With new production methods helping ensure high volume production with fewer defects and developments in the notorious lifespan of blue pixels it was prime to at least test the waters. OLED displays are fundamentally different and as such one of their benefits of production is the ability to deposit the reactive material on sheets in any size with relatively uniform density and spread making it perfect for any size screen from smart phones to billboards. As manufacturers also found out the added benefits made it such a clear choice over existing options that we've already begun to see new manufacturing plants being built all over the world to ramp up production in the next 3 to 5 years in an effort to completely phase out LCD technologies.

So what are these added benefits? Lower power consumption, brighter screens, higher contrast ratios, faster pixel response times, higher refresh rates, lower input lag time, and for the first time since CRT's a uniformal superiority to the antiquated technology still considered ideal in some special use cases where things like color gamut are critical. Effectively making OLED the absolute superior display technology in every aspect with perhaps a minor exception to lifespan where if abused through maximum brightness settings after several years the screen can lose maximum potential brightness and cause color shifting.

If it's so amazing why don't we already have these screens everywhere? The answer boils down to the fact it simply took this long for production to be of a high enough output volume to make it economical. As the technology took off in smartphones once facilities could handle the load they can with relative ease change from small screens to big ones which is exactly what they're doing. Which then leads in to the computer market where we still have yet to see laptops or monitors that really use the technology. Why didn't we start seeing monitors with the first wave of TV's as well?

This comes from the fact that monitors are significantly different from your standard TV where manufacturers can get away with slower input lag times and not calibrating their color profiles. Display technologies and standards take extra development time as well as calibration for production and tighter quality controls where a dead pixel is very noticeable due to proximity where as one pixel on a large screen at a greater distance is nearly undetectable to the average viewer. The variable frame rates you can get as input also require additional development on image signal processors which also have to be designed for the higher pixel density and the larger screen than you would find in a smartphone. The end result is a lot of extra time and money put into development when the demand just isn't quite there yet until people start buying and using OLED TV's to create the demand for the monitors. Which is what we're seeing now as the push for 4k and OLED go almost hand in hand. Which is why I'm so excited to see these displays popping up at various booths and what it means for the future of my entertainment.