The OLED strip is supported by most of Apple's applications and can be used to show bookmarks while you browse the internet, emojis in messaging applications, and more. Apple released an API to developers can support the Touch Bar in third-party applications. The OLED strip also includes a Touch ID sensor that is activated for example when you wish to pay online (on supported web stores).
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OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) is a new display technology that is brighter, more efficient, thinner and feature better refresh rates and contrast than an LCD display. OLEDs deliver the best picture quality ever - and starting in 2016 laptop makers have started to adopt OLEDs in their newest devices.
Why are OLEDs better than LCDs?
- OLEDs are much thinner and lighter than LCDs.
- OLEDs consume less power - as only lit pixels draw energy - so an almost black screen will require very little power. Applications can take advantage of this (for example a white font on black background).
- OLEDs offer better picture quality with much faster refresh rates, infinite contrast and better viewing angles - especially useful for gamers.
- OLEDs can be made flexible or even transparent.
2016 - OLED laptops finally arrive
After years of waiting and seeing OLEDs adopted in a wide range of devices such as mobile phones, tablets, TVs and wearables, in early 2016 several laptop makers finally announced their first products with OLED displays.
Lenovo's X1 Yoga is a laptop-tablet hybrid that is equipped with a 14" 2550x1440 display - LCD in the lower models and OLED in the higher-end ones. The basic X1 Yoga starts at $1,449 (with an LCD) - the OLED model will be released in April 2016 - price hasn't been announced yet.
HP has announced a similar product - a model of the popular Spectre X360 hybrid laptop/tablet that comes with a 13.3" 2560x1600 AMOLED display. The OLED model will be released "in the spring of 2016". Dell's Alienware announced a a gaming laptop, the Alienware OLED 13 R2 - and it uses a 13" 2560x1440 AMOLED display. Alienware says that the OLED model will cost exactly the same as the LCD model. The Alienware OLED 13 laptop will ship in April 2015 starting at $1,499.
What the future holds
In the future we hope to see more laptop makers release models with OLED displays, and it's likely that price premium over LCDs will drop. In addition we are looking forward to seeing laptops with flexible OLEDs and also ones with transparent displays (not sure why is that a good idea, but it sure looks great):
Image retention (burn-in)?
One of the major drawbacks of an OLED display is that because each pixel is driven independently and because the lifetime of an OLED emitter is limited, image retention (known as burn-in) is a real problem. A much-used pixel is less bright than a pixel that hasn't been driven a lot.
In computer user interface this is a problem - as some UI elements are quite fixed (toolbars, icons, etc). There are some technologies to handle this problem - for example by measurement and compensation.
- Introduction to OLEDs
- OLED Technology explained
- Transparent OLEDs
- OLED monitors
- A list of OLED laptops
- The OLED Handbook, our very own comprehensive guide to OLEDs
Latest OLED Laptop news
Tomorrow (October 27th) Apple is set to announce its new MacBook Pro lineup, and reports suggested that one of the new features in these new laptops will be an OLED touch bar, a secondary display placed above the keyboard (instead of the function keys).
A leaked image (shown above) from Apple's Pay platform was circulated yesterday, showing and supposedly confirming the new touch bar (which many believe Apple will call Magic Toolbar) - which will also apparently support touch ID.
Apple is set to announce its new MacBook Pro lineup towards the end of October. In June we reported of rumors that one of the new features in these new laptops will be an OLED touch bar, a secondary display placed above the keyboard (instead of the function keys). You can see a proposed render (this is not an official photo of course):
Since June, more reports surfaced that confirm the secondary-OLED. It seems that most analyst now agree that the MacBook Pro will indeed come with this interesting OLED strip. A leaked Chassis image from June, which you can see above, supports these rumors. I'm sure Apple will find very nice use cases for such a display on a laptop. It is interesting to try and figure out the effect of Apple's secondary MacBook Pro OLED on the OLED market itself.
Lenovo announced its OLED X1 Yoga laptop-tablet hybrid back in January 2016, and the high-end OLED laptop is finally shipping. Engadget posted a review, and it appears that the display is simply stunning.
The reviewer says that the OLED display simply "blew his mind", and concludes his review saying that "the Thinkpad X1 Yoga is a reminder that OLED isn't just bright and bold, it's a transformative display technology. Now if only it weren't so expensive".
The X1 Yoga has a 14" 2550x1440 display (LCD or OLED) and the configuration goes up to Core i7 CPUs, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. The laptop weighs 1.27 Kg.
HP started shipping the Spectre X360 OLED hybrid laptop/tablet, starting at $1,499. The X360 has a 13.3" OLED display (2560x1600, made by SDC) - and the OLED model weighs 50 grams less than the equivalent LCD model, and HP says that the OLED outperforms the LCD in terms of color gamut (103% RGB vs 72% in LED displays) and is also more power efficient.
Samsung demonstrated two OLED displays for laptops at SID 2016. First up was a 13.3" 2560x1440 (221 PPI) panel. This display offers a brightness of 300 nits and is 1.01 mm thick and weighs 120 grams.
The second display is a bit larger at 14", but otherwise pretty much the same (2560x1440, 210 PPI) and it weighs 130 grams.
Apple will reportedly update its MacBook Pro lineup towards the end of this year, and it is rumored that one of the new features in these new laptops will be an OLED touch bar, placed above the keyboard (instead of the function keys).
Leaked chassis photos of the upcoming MacBook Pro seems to show a keyboard with a missing function line - and an empty display slot.
The following premium article takes a look at the current markets for OLED displays - including smartphones, wearables, VR / AR, mobile PCs and TVs. We will then summarize OLED market forecasts by leading analysts.
In recent weeks, we heard very strong indicators from OLED equipment and component makers. Coherent, Orbotech, Colnatec and MagnaChip all reported significant OLED orders, and are very optimistic about the OLED market going forward.
Those suppliers report sales mostly to Korea, of course, but also to Japanese and Chinese display makers, as these new players ramp up their OLED production and begin to compete with Samsung and LGD.
IHS say that the lower prices of AMOLEDs and the improvements in production is attracting more device makers to adopt AMOLED panels in their products. This leads to rapid increase in AMOLED shipments.
IHS sees 395 million AMOLEDs shipped in 2016 (this seems a bit optimistic) - an increase of 40% compared to 2015. Revenues will increase by 25% to reach $15 billion. AMOLED penetration in smartphone displays will rise from 17% in 2015 to 21% in 2016. IHS says that "AMOLED is becoming the shiniest spot in the flat-panel display industry".