In July 2008, I had the chance of interviewing Elijah Ebo, manager of product division at Densitron. Densitron has been in the displays industry for over 30 years and is well known for offering custom display and complete product design. The company sold the other 2 division it had, gaming and Digital signage, a couple of years ago and the management decided to re-focus on displays.
Elijah got his degree in Surrey University, and worked at Vertu (Nokia's luxury mobile phone brand) and at Philips before joining Densitron, to be the Product Division manager - managing a team of technical display experts at Densitron and supporting design activities with their customers.
Q: Hi Elijah - thanks for taking the time to do this interview! What kind of OLED panels do you carry today? What's you best selling OLED display?
The best sellers at the moment have to be the Active Matrix 4.3” WQVGA and 2.8” QVGA. Once people see these displays, they just have to have them!
Q: When do you expect to begin selling larger panels (7")?
We expect to be selling samples in this size by the end of August. I’ve seen the samples and they are mindblowing!
The displays are made by CMEL - we have a great relationship with CMEL and we will be amongst the first to offer these panels.
They have a resolution of 800 by 480, 16 million colours, support 3-Wire SPI and LVDS, and are only around 5mm thick!
Q: Do you sell OLED panels by other companies?
Yes we do. We have good standing with our OLED suppliers and we often get involved in the design revision process. Beside CMEL, Univision is one of our main suppliers.
We sell their standard parts and also have our own custom designed panels produced.
Q: You also offer OLED development kits. Can you give some more information on that?
Certainly. We make sure that ALL our OLED displays are supported by our development kits.
These kits not only provide easy connectivity and power supply requirements, they offer direct access to the driver IC registers on the display modules.
The kits are supported by the people who are involved with the design the hardware and software – They are well placed to offer excellent technical support based on actual laboratory experience with the modules.
Q: Can you give us some examples of products who use your OLED displays?
Without breaching any NDAs, some examples range from military handheld devices and nuclear power station control panels to MP3 players and DAB radios – with a good few top secret ones too!
Q: How do you see OLEDs fare against LCDs? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
I think OLEDS will definitely take a share of the LCD market, but it will also lead to new products, that were not conceivable with TFTs.
So I think the two can co-exist and OLEDS will not necessarily ‘kill’ LCDs.
The viewing angle and contrast ratio advantages of OLEDs over LCDs are well publicised.
One evil OLEDs seem to suffer from is the relatively short lifetime when compared to TFTs. But companies like Novaled are already coming up with innovative solutions to this issue, so that only really leaves the ‘burn-in’ or ‘image sticking’ issue, which TFTS also suffer from, albeit to a lesser extent.
Good SW algorithms can reduce the problem and I personally believe that other solutions will emerge.
Q: What's the price difference today between OLEDs and comparable LCDs?
Good question – AMOLEDs should be compared to LTPS (Low Temperature Poly-Silicon) TFTs rather than transmissive a-si TFTS, as is often the case.
AMOLEDS can be a good 40% to 50% more expensive than standard transmissive a-si TFTS. However, when compared to L TPS TFTs, which use the more expensive LTPS process, like AMOLEDS, the price difference is more like 10% to 30%.
Remember, OLEDS are relatively new and as the technology improves and yields increase, they will get cheaper.
Q: Recently there is a lot of hype about OLEDs - small AMOLEDs are being mass producted (by Samsung, LG, and CMEL of course) and OLED TV plans are being announced. Do you think this time it is for real? or will we see more delays?
There are bound to be delays, but these are real.
Q: You are selling OLEDs for quite some time now. What has been the experience like for the past years? Do you see an up trend starting now that the larger companies seem more committed?
Most definitely. Many decent sized Companies have moved on from a cautious sampling stage to prototyping, pre-production and now mass production.
We had shared their nervousness, but helped them get through it, invested in the technology in many ways and made sure that our manufacturing partners were getting the feedback they needed from customer’s test results. We helped in analysing and translating these results.
When OSRAM decided to stop producing OLEDs displays, panic returned, but eventually, this was followed by calm, when they realised that companies like Densitron could provide drop-in replacement modules that required no SW or HW change.
I believe the worst is over and now the technology can look forward to some serious growth.
Q: When do you think we'll be able to actually buy a commercial OLED TV?
It wouldn’t surprise me if commercial TVs were readily available next summer.
Q: Where do you see the display market in 5 years?
I think the TFT market will shrink somewhat, but still has plenty of life in it. Don’t be surprised to see good old monographic LCDs still going strong, not all applications require the outstanding characteristics that OLEDs have to offer.
Elijah - thank you for this interview and good luck!