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:
Last month Japan-based printed OLED developer JOLED announced that it will demonstrate new OLED prototypes (including a 55" printed OLED TV) at Finetech Japan, which starts tomorrow (December 5). Today JOLED detailed the new panels it will have on display at the trade show.
So first we have two automotive displays - a 12.3" HD OLED and a 12.2" flexible (curved ) Full-HD OLED. JOLED's latest investors, Denso and Toyoto Tsusho, are both helping the company with its entry into the automotive display market.
AUO to establish an OLED ink-jet production line, to make OLEDs for monitors and automotive applications
According to reports from China, Taiwan-based AU Optronics decided to establish an inkjet OLED production line that will be used to produce OLED monitor displays and OLEDs for automotive applications.
The new OLED line will use production equipment made by Japan's JOLED - who started commercial low-volume production of its own 21.6" 4K OLED panels, at the company's pilot 4.5-Gen line. JOLED also announced plans for a mass production 5.5-Gen line that will be established in Nomi City, Ishikawa Prefecture, by 2020, and similarly to AUO, it is focusing on monitors and automotive applications.
JOLED to develop high-end gaming monitors in collaboration with a Japanese professional e-sport team
JOLED announced that it will co-develop high-end gaming monitors together with the Japanese "Burning Core" professional e-sport team.
JOLED will develop the OLED monitors and Burning Core players will test the monitors and provide professional opinion so that JOLED can calibrate and perfect the image quality especially for gaming.
Towards the end of 2017, JOLED started commercial production of its 21.6" 4K OLED panels. But this is very low volume production (at JOLED's pilot 4.5-Gen line) as the company said it is seeking to raise $900 million to support its plan to start mass producing OLEDs in 2019.
Today JOLED announced official plans for its first mass production printed OLED fab. JOLED will establish the production site in Nomi City, Ishikawa Prefecture. The capacity of the new fab will be 20,000 monthly 5.5-Gen (1300x1500 mm) substrates and the plan is to begin mass production in 2020. JOLED will produce 10- to 32-inch OLED displays for automotive displays, high-end monitors and more.
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.
Earlier this month Asus introduced a new OLED monitor, the 21.6" 3840x2160 (204 PPI) ProArt PQ22UC, which uses a ink-jet printed OLED panel produced by JOLED. The following video shows this new laptop which is said to have a remarkable image quality and a portable design:
Asus did not yet reveal the price of its first OLED monitor, but it did say it will ship by the spring of 2018. JOLED announced a few weeks ago that it started commercial production of 21.6" ink-jet printed 4K OLED panels. JOLED's production capacity is not large as the company is still using a pilot-scale line, but JOLED is seeking to raise $900 million to support its plan to start mass producing OLEDs in 2019.
This is very interesting news. JOLED indeed announced a few weeks ago that it started commercial production of 21.6" ink-jet printed 4K OLED panels, and it is great to see a product launched so quickly. JOLED's production capacity is not large, the company is still using a pilot-scale line, but it's likely that Asus is not expecting to sell many units of this high-end OLED monitor.
In June 2017 JOLED announced that it started to sample 21.6" 4K OLED panels, with plans to initiate low volume production at its 4.5-Gen pilot inkjet production line. JOLED announced today that it has began commercial shipments of these panels. We do not know JOLED's first customer but it is likely to be Sony.
JOLED says that it has now achieved the necessary product quality and production yields. The product was already selected for use in medical monitors (again, we believe this is Sony, who we know received JOLED's first samples and already has its own 25" OLED medical monitor that uses Sony's own OLEDs). JOLED also aims to ship these panes to other OLED monitors applications.
As we just posted, Japan Display has decided to halt its plans to turn its minority stake at JOLED into a majority one, and so JOLED is now seeking external financing to support its plan to start mass producing OLEDs in 2019 at the JDI plant in Nomi, Ishikawa (which currently makes LCDs, but will be shut down towards the end of 2017).
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, JOLED aims to raise 100 billion Yen (almost $900 million) from Japanese companies, and it has already approached Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon and Sumitomo. If this plans fails JOLED may turn to foreign companies, including Chinese ones.
Last month JOLED announced that it started to sample 21.6" 4K OLED monitors. JOLED plans to develop these OLED monitors for medical applications - it will produce these in low volume at its current 4.5-Gen pilot production line, and will start mass production in 2019.
JOLED's CEO, Nobuhiro Higashiiriki, said in a conference that these first samples were shipped to Sony, which may become JOLED's first customer. JOLED says that the company managed to achieve a high quality and long lifetime, which was a challenge due to the printing process used.