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 are used in high-end smartphones and tablets.
The idea of an OLED monitor is exciting consumers as such a device will offer an unparalleled viewing experience and a thin form factor. But OLED monitors are not on the market yet. This article will explain the benefits, the current status and the future of OLED monitors.
Why is an OLED monitor better than an LCD one?
- OLED provide a better image quality with a much higher contrast (true blacks), wide color gamut, better viewing angles and a much faster refresh rate
- OLED panels are much thinner and lighter compared to LCD panels
- An OLED monitor would consume less power - as only lit pixels draw energy on OLED displays. An almost black screen will require very little power
- An OLED monitor could be flexible or even transparent
OLED monitors and the burn-in challenge?
Of course OLED technology is not perfect. One of the major drawbacks of an OLED display is image retention / burn-in. In an OLED display each pixel is driven independently and each pixel ages differently - the brightness is reduced with use. To put it simply - a pixel that was used a lot will be less bright than a pixel that hasn't been driven as much.
For mobile phones and TVs this is less of a problem - but in a computer user interface many UI elements are quite fixed (toolbars, icons, etc) which means that burn-in is a real problem. There are some technologies to handle this problem - for example by measurement and compensation, and the lifetime of OLED displays is improving all the time. In addition user-interface designers can design a user interface that will be more suited for OLED displays.
OLED monitors on the market
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 Dell announced the world's first OLED monitor, the Ultrasharp UP3017Q. This a 30" was supposed to launch in March 2016 for $4,999 - but Dell reportedly scrapped plans for this product. In April 2017, though, Dell brought the UP3017Q back and started shipping it for $3,499.
In early 2018 Asus announced its OLED monitor, the ProArt PQ22UC which features a 21.6" 3840x2160 (204 PPI) OLED display. The display is provided by JOLED using its ink-jet printing process. In March 2019 Asus started to ship the PQ22UC, starting in the UK where the price is set at for £4,529 (!) which would make the US price at around $5,000.
For the professional market, Sony is offering several monitors in several sizes (from 7.4" to 30") and in several series. Sony already sold over 15,000 professional OLED monitors, and their latest monitor is the 30" 4K BVM-X300. These are professional monitors, though, aimed for broadcasting and post production applications.
The latest OLED Monitor news:
In October 2019 EIZO announced the FORIS NOVA high-end monitor that features a 21.6" 4K AMOLED display (produced by JOLED in an inkjet printing process). The monitor is shipping in Japan, and now EIZO officially launched it in China as well. The price in Japan is 350,000 Yen (around $3,150 USD) and we do not know the price in China yet.
The display offers HDR support. EIZO calls this OLED monitor an entertainment monitor saying it is especially suitable for gaming and video watching. EIZO will only produce 500 units of this limited-edition monitor.
The monitor weighs only 1 Kg and is marketed as a "portable" ultra-slim monitor. Features include HDR support, 0.1 ms response time, 10-bit color (99% DCI-P3), USB-C input and micro HDMI.
JOLED announced that it has started sampling inkjet-printed OLED display panels in its 5.5-Gen (1300x1500 mm) production line in Nomi, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. Mass production is planned for 2020.
JOLED will market these medium-sized (10-32 inch) panels for use in applications such as high-end monitors, medical monitors and the automotive market. The Nomi site will have a monthly production of 20,000 substrates.
In August 2019 Dell's Alienware announced a flagship 55" gaming monitor based on LG Display's 120Hz 55-inch 4K (3840x2160) WRGB AMOLED display. These high-end gaming monitors are now shipping for $3,899.
The Alienware 55 has a maximum brightness of 400 nits and a 0.5 ms gray to gray response time. The monitor support AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate and it has an anti-reflective coating with 2H hardness.
Our sister site E-Ink-Info just posted an interesting review of Dasung's 13.3" E Ink monitor, the Paperlike HD-FT. This is a secondary monitor that features a 13.3" 2200x1650 touch display with a front light.
The E Ink display is surprisingly quick and supports video. This is still a black and white e-paper display, so not useful for all applications - but if you want a healthier alternative to your LCD or OLED display, or if you suffer from eye fatigue, this could be a great alternative (quite expensive though at at $1,259). Click here for the full review.
At CES 2019, Alienware demonstrated a gaming monitor that uses a 55" 4K 120Hz OLED display. This monitor supports 4K at 120Hz using the new HDMI v2.1 connection (also supported by LG's latest 2019 OLED TVs).
Earlier this week we reported that Alienware has not plans to actually launch this product - but according to PCGamer, a Dell spokesman says that the company is definitely going to release it - at Q4 2019 in "selected markets". This is good news for many gamers who were looking forward to this exciting (but probably highly expensive) monitor.
In January 2019, Alienware demonstrated a gaming monitor that uses a 55" 4K 120Hz OLED display. This monitor supports 4K at 120Hz using the new HDMI v2.1 connection (also supported by LG's latest 2019 OLED TVs).
Alienware now updates that it is not ready to launch this monitor yet as it is still a "conceptual product" and that its "potential commercial viability is still in question". The company did say that if the product progresses, it will make an announcement at CES 2020. This will be a premium product with a price tag of over $3,000.
Digitimes reports that AU Optronics has setup a 3.5-Gen test ink-jet OLED printing line, and the company now intends to start building a 6-Gen production line. AUO will start constructing the line before the end of 2019.
AUO's Chairman confirmed that the latest advances in printing materials and equipment are starting to make OLED printing viable for commercial use. AUO has not yet decided the schedule for volume production.
JOLED announced that it has raised 25.5 billion Yen (around $228 million USD) from INCJ, Sony and Nissha. JOLED also announced that it has started to build post-processing module production lines at its Mobara, Chiba prefecture, plant. Nissha will also collaborate with JOLED in the area of OLED touch sensors.
JOLED's printed OLED displays will be produced at the company's Nomi plant. JOLED currently uses a pilot 4.5-Gen line at Nomi, but the company has already announced plans for a new mass production 5.5-Gen line in Nomi by 2020.
DSCC says that OLED market revenues will grow from $26.5 billion in 2018 to $28.7 billion in 2019 and over $52 billion by 2023. The largest application will remain smartphone displays, but several other applications will generate over $1 billion in 2023 - TVs, tablets, notebooks and monitors. By area of production, TV displays will surpass smartphone displays in 2021.
Samsung is still (and will remain so) the dominant AMOLED display producer, even though its market share will drop from 97% in Q1 2018 to 81% in Q4 2019. In Q1 2019 Visionox surpassed LGD to become the 2nd largest AMOLED producer (but most of Visionox's panels are low-end 5.5-inch panels). DSCC expects LGD to regain its number 2 position in the second half of 2019. BOE is the third player and will remain so following its supply agreement with Huawei.