OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) is a 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 OLED displays have been used in smartphones, wearables and TVs.
Why are OLED displays better than LCDs?
- In OLED displays, each pixel emits light independently (in LCDs, there is a white backlight).
- The contrast ratio of OLEDs is much better than in LCD
- OLEDs offer a much faster refresh rate and better viewing angles (great for games!)
- OLEDs are thinner and lighter than LCDs, and can be made flexible, foldable, rollable and transparent.
- OLEDs are more efficient, as only lit pixels draw energy. A smart user interface can result in very power efficient OLED displays!
2019 - OLED laptops finally arrive
OLEDs are already very successful in smartphone displays (over 500 million panels produced annually, adopted in smartphones from Apple, Samsung, Sony and others), OLED TVs and wearables. While in early 2016 several laptop makers announced the first OLED laptops (such as the Lenovo X1 Yoga with its 14" 2550x1440 AMOLED and the HP Spectre X360 with its 13.3" 2560x1600 AMOLED display), these laptops were produced in small quantities and quickly discontinued.
In early 2019, Samsung finally announced it start mass producing OLED displays for laptops. The first displays will be 15.6" UHD (3840x2160) AMOLED panels that feature high contrast ratio, extreme color accuracy, full HDR compatibility, a very wide color gamut and remarkable outdoor visibility (for more details on Samsung's 2019 15.6" AMOLEDs, click here). SDC is targeting premium laptops, as these ultra high resolution panels are optimized for gaming, graphic design and video streaming.
Following Samsung's announcement, three companies quickly announced 15" OLED laptops - HP with its Spectre x360, Lenovo with the Yoga C730 and Dell with the XPS 15, Dell G7 15 and the Alienware m15. It is likely that at least some of these laptops will start shipping in March 2019 when SDC will actually start supplying the panels.
What the future holds
If this first wave of OLED laptop displays will be successful, it is likely that Samsung will release more laptop displays - including smaller 13.3" OLEDs and 14" OLEDs. 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 (for a more technical explanation, click here).
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. As OLED lifetime improves, image retention is also less visible - and it appears that as of 2019, the situation is improved enough that Samsung believes OLED can be adopted successful in laptop displays.
The latest OLED Laptop news:
Dell announced that its premium 15" laptops will all get an optional OLED display in 2019. The Dell XPS 15, Dell G7 15 and the Alienware m15 will all offer a 15" OLED display that features HDR, a 100% DCI-P3 color gamut and 100,000:1 Contrast Ratio.
The new 15" Dell OLED laptops will start shipping in March 2019. That's great news from Dell, and it's a great start for 2019 as it seems to be poised for an OLED laptop comeback.
Razer unveiled two new laptop concepts at CES, based on the company's 15" Razer Blade laptop. One of the concepts spots a 4K touch OLED display (the second used a 240Hz FHD LCD).
Razer says that the OLED display delivers "amazing color, deep blacks, and efficient performance". The company did not disclose if and when it aims to release this as an actual product.
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%).
Looking 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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).
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.
Lenovo announced its laptop lineup for 2018, and unfortunately none of these laptops will adopt an OLED display.
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.
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.