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

Latest OLED Laptop news

DSCC: the OLED market will grow 19% in 2019 to reach $31 billion in revenues

DSCC estimates that the AMOLED market will grow 19% in 2019 to reach $31 billion, up from $26.5 billion in 2018. OLED revenues will continue to grow and reach $48.8 billion in 2022 (a CAGR of 16%).

OLED panel revenue by type, (2016-2022, DSCC)

Look at OLED unit shipments and area production, 2019 will see a 22% growth in unit shipments to 610 million panels and a 35% growth in area to 9 million square meters. Area shipments will grow faster than revenues as OLED selling prices will continue to decline - and as OLED TVs take up a larger share of the OLED market.

Samsung progresses with its inkjet printing OLED technology, to apply it to next-generation monitors and laptops

According to ETNews, Samsung Display has made significant progress with its OLED ink-jet printing process technology, and the company now aims to apply this technology to produce medium-sized panels for OLED laptops and OLED monitors. Samsung may also use this process to produce smaller tablet displays.

Kateeva YIELDJet TFE system photo

It seems that Samsung is aiming to settle on three main next-generation OLED technologies - evaporation (FMM) OLEDs for small-sized display, ink-jet OLED deposition for medium-sized panels and hybrid QD-OLEDs for large-area OLED TV panels. It's other display technologies are QD-LEDs for TVs and Micro-LEDs for next-generation small and large area displays.

OLED Handbook

Will Samsung launch a 4K OLED laptop in CES 2019?

According to reports from Korea, Samsung aims to launch its first 4K OLED Laptop at CES 2019 (January 8). Samsung will offer the laptop in three sizes: 13.3", 14" and 15.6". Samsung Display, who makes these OLEDs, is also in talks with HP, Dell and Lenovo with an aim to supply them with these new OLED laptop panels.

Samsung Galaxy Book photoSamsung's 2017 Galaxy Book 12"

According to the Korean reports, these will be rigid (glass-based) OLEDs produced at SDC's A2 fab. According to reports, SDC's rigid OLED fab utilization rates have dropped to about 65% and in February 2018 we estimated that SDC may try to find new applications for its underutilized OLED capacity - maybe in monitors, transparent signage or indeed laptop devices.

Samsung is developing laptops with foldable displays

Lee Min-Cheol, Samsung Electronic's PC Marketing VP says that Samsung is collaborating with "display makers" (Samsung Display? or an error in the quote?) to develop OLED laptops with foldable displays. Samsung says that it aims to bring "new value and user experience" and not just create a laptop and can simply fold in and out.

Samsung will hopefully release its first foldable smartphone device by the end of 2018 or in early 2019, but apparently the company is already thinking about other form factors. Earlier this month a report from Korea suggested that LG Display is collaborating with Lenovo to develop a 13" foldable tablet, with aims to start panel production in H2 2019.

DSCC: OLED equipment spending to continue and decline, strong demand to return only in 2020

DSCC updated its forecast for display equipment spending, saying that in 2018 OLED spending is expected to fall 28% compared to 2017 to $10.8 billion (while LCD spending will grow 22% to $11.4 billion). China-based display makers will account for 90% of all display related equipment spending in 2018.

Display equipment spending by technology (2016-2021, DSCC)

2019 will see another down year for OLED spending that will drop 31% to $7.4 billion (LCD spending is also expected to fall by 32%). Chinese display makers will again lead in spending (77% of the market).

Will Samsung target new applications now that its smartphone OLED lines are under-utilized?

In the past few weeks we heard many reports that following lower than expected OLED orders from Apple (due to disappointing iPhone X sales) Samsung Display has suddenly found itself with under utilized OLED production lines.

Samsung already said that it aims to find new customers for its OLEDs, mostly in smartphone makers in China. Some analyst say however that this won't be so easy as the higher costs of SDC's AMOLED displays deter some of its potential customers, who prefer to opt for lower-cost high-end 18:9 LCDs.

IHS sees AMOLED shipments surging in 2017, fast growth throughout 2020

IHS says that AMOLED panel shipment will increase 63% in 2017, driven by strong demand from smartphone makers. Looking forward the AMOLED market will experience fast growth, as demand will rise for smartphones, TVs, VR HMDs and mobile PCs.

AMOLED shipment revenue forecast (2015-2021, IHS)

In 2017 the AMOLED market will reach $25.2 billion in revenues, up from about $15 billion in 2016. The OLED TV market will grow to 1.5 million units (up from from 890,000 units in 2016). Mobile display resolution continue to increase, and in 2017 68% of shipments will be of FHD, QHD and WQHD resolutions.

Samsung aims to adopt OLEDs in all its future tablets

According to a report in Korea, Samsung Electronics has decided to start adopting OLED displays in all of its tablet devices and to increasingly use OLEDs in laptops.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 photo

Samsung Display is currently producing OLEDs for tablets and laptops in a limited quantity, as most of its OLED capacity is dedicated to mobile phone displays. According to ETNews SDC will continue to gradually convert its LCD lines to OLED and the ultimate goal of SDC is to only produce OLED displays for mobile devices.