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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.

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S photo

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.

OLED Alienware 13 photo

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.

Further reading