In early May we mentioned that we would be attending Display Week. The ensuing discussion as well as the survey results really helped us narrow down the vendors we met with and the questions we asked them about their existing offerings as well as their roadmaps for upcoming products. The event has since come and gone, so it’s time to follow up with what we found there. In this topic we’ll cover some of the overall Industry trends, surprising finds, and have a look at some of the interesting panels we found!
As we’ve mentioned in our previous post, Display Week is an annual global event organized by the Society for Information Display. Attended by key figures from manufacturing, science, and other display-related fields, and showcasing current and upcoming display technologies, it is the most important event in the industry. This year, over 7 500 people from more than 40 countries attended the event.
Unlike more end user-oriented shows like Computex and CES, in which most of the products are presented by sales and marketing departments, Display Week’s exhibitors are primarily engineers, as are a large portion of their audience. So instead of show floor full of marketing material, gameplay videos, and energetic music, the booths are much more subdued and feature huge amounts of microscopes, demo boards, and other tools.
A large part of the event was dedicated to developments in automotive displays. The main topics here were bendable OLED displays for immersive dashboards and mini-LED backlights for bright ambient environments. A lot of these panels displayed concept dashboards for self-driving cars. Most of the solutions focused on durability concerns of the various display technologies since they are used in environments with relatively extreme temperatures and humidity, and nobody wants their dashboard to stop working while driving.
Virtual- and augmented reality (VR and AR) displays were also centerstage during the show, The focus here was on higher brightness and prevention of motion sickness when using the headsets. It’s all about what’s happening inside the glasses, so no pictures here.
We’ve seen all sorts of displays designed to be used in many different environments. This Blinder transparent display developed by LG was designed for use as an actual window blind or as a partition inside buildings. Though it’s cool, we think it’s still far from being used in real life to solve actual problems. Of course, if you think we’re all wrong and you can think of some neat use case for this type of display, be sure to comment below!
We found another interesting display concept at the Innolux booth. They were showcasing what they call Inno-Gallery, 27-inch display at 1440×2560 pixels that uses a variety of anti-glare and anti-reflective treatments together to achieve a paper-like surface. Their intended use case is in galleries and interactive whiteboards. The first time we came across it we thought this was an actual painting, which was quite impressive.
During the event we had meetings with many companies, including all the major panel manufacturers.
The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) maintains a number of standards and certifications. They are known by most for the VESA display mounting standards. But are also the minds behind DisplayPort and other technologies, and provide certifications for HDR and more.
VESA pleasantly surprised us by using Spectrum to showcase DisplayPort 2.0. Since our monitor pushes more high-bandwidth data through its Mediatec scaler than most of the competition, it was chosen to showcase the new interface. While the additional external circuit board they modded onto the monitor probably wouldn’t gain approval from our design team, it’s still awesome to have our product used to represent the technology of the future! Products using DisplayPort 2.0 are expected to finally start shipping next year.
For the foreseeable future, DisplayHDR 1400 will remain the highest badge of honor on the HDR certification roadmap. Monitors with DisplayHDR 1000 certification or higher are currently the only way to create and work with HDR content accurately.
Finally, we discussed their new Adaptive-Sync certification. We’ve applied for certification, and once testing concludes we expect all current Spectrum models to be VESA Adaptive-Sync certified.
After a long period of e-mails and calls, we were finally able to meet with Chief Blur Buster in person. Together we’ve made a plan that will expedite the implementation of simultaneous VRR and backlight strobing in Spectrum. We hope to share some exciting progress on this front shortly!
Thanks for the stickers, @BlurBusters!
As mentioned all display manufacturers were represented at Display Week, promoting the latest technologies they’ve devised and showcasing the cutting-edge panels they’ve made with them. This gave us great insights into the various display types and how they are expected to roll out over the coming months.
Combining the longevity of LEDs with the perfect blacks of OLED, micro-LED may well be the future. Shrinking non-organic LEDs to the sizes used by OLED panels, micro-LED displays promise unmatched performance in terms of brightness, response time, black levels, durability, and flexibility. The only issue? No manufacturer has them in their mass production development roadmap yet. The manufacturing process is still super expensive, which is only made worse by low manufacturing yields.
We’ve seen some prototypes of smart watches at the show, as well as an examples of a rollable display (here it is in action) using micro-LED technology. But if it’s difficult and expensive to manufacture these smaller screens made up of thousands of micro-LEDs, you can imagine the challenge of manufacturing a monitor panel made up of millions.
There are no clear dates yet from any of the manufacturers. Based on our conversations with multiple micro-LED suppliers, we don’t expect mass-produced micro-LED monitors to hit the market until 2026-2028.
- Pretty much everything
- We can’t have it yet
Some of you asked about laser backlight. We made sure to find the guys who are working hard to bring this technology to market: a start-up called VitreaLab. It’s an extremely cool idea that involves using lasers to carve microscopic light guides backlight glass. These light guides then serve to spread the light from a single set of RGB laser diodes across the panel. Laser backlight promises greatly increased brightness and substantially better power efficiency.
The most advanced sample on display counted 9000 pixels and was about the size of a smartwatch. Needless to say, it is still far from being ready to use at the scale needed to create monitors. We’re looking forward to where this technology could lead, and if you want to learn more about it we recommend having a look at VitreaLab’s website.
- Much higher brightness
- Much lower power draw
- Lasers! Did we mention it uses lasers?
- We can’t have it yet
For a long time, organic LED (OLED) displays were limited to either large screens such as TVs, or small screens like laptops, tablets and phones. Finally the OLED panel manufacturers, with LG Display seemingly leading the charge, are starting to develop panels in that in-between size that is perfect for desktop monitors.
OLED panels can be very flexible, meaning OLED monitors could be flat, tightly curved, or anything in between. Or all of the above, letting the user change between flat or curved at will!
The organic nature of the light-emitting components make them susceptible to deterioration if high power is driven through them for extended periods of time. This can lead to image burn-in if static or very bright images are displayed. As a result, the expected lifespan of these panels is generally shorter than those of LCD-based displays. Also, though OLED is famous for its exceptionally dark blacks, most manufacturers avoid high maximum brightness in order to avoid wearing out the organic LEDs. This makes them unsuitable for HDR content creation.
Finally, we learned that at high pixel densities, the organic LEDs become so small that they no longer emit enough light to create a feasible image. This means that, at least for now, high resolutions are only possible on larger screens. In the near future, don’t expect to see 4K on an OLED screen smaller than 40 inches.
With exceptionally low gray-to-gray response times (measured in µs instead of ms) and low motion picture response time, we expect that OLED panels will make damn good monitors for people whose primary use case is primary gaming. And we’re not the only ones, as Display Week showed us that OLED gaming monitors are coming! LG, one of the major OLED manufacturers, has panels in the works. And even Samsung, who had recently received a lot of attention for their QD-OLED panels, has plans to enter the gaming market with regular OLED displays as well.
- Perfect blacks
- Low response time whichever way you measure it
- Reduced longevity
- Reduced maximum brightness
- High resolutions are only possible on very large displays
Just now, we already covered OLED. So why bring up what, at first glance, seems to be just another OLED flavor? QD-OLED is the exciting new kid on the block, blending two of the most expensive technologies used in display manufacturing today: quantum dots and OLED.
Quantum dot OLED (QD-OLED) panels use a coating of quantum dots to address some of OLED’s weaknesses. By being more efficient with the light emitted, higher brightness can be achieved using less power. The former increases the quality of HDR images, while the latter reduces the risk of burn-in, extending the panel’s lifespan.
We did find that due to the unique structure of QD-OLED, it picks up ambient light which in turn reduces color accuracy and contrast. In room without ambient light, QD-OLED will look better than regular OLED as the higher brightness enables a higher contrast. But as ambient light is introduced (even small amounts), the perceived contrast and color accuracy drops noticeably. Hardware Unboxed has already pointed this out as a big issue when reviewing a QD-OLED monitor, and it will be interesting to see user feedback when more people get their hands on monitors using this new technology for daily use.
Finally, at this time Samsung is the only manufacturer to bring this technology to market. And though their production capacity is extremely small, they’ve decided to dedicate all of it to making curved ultra-wide monitors. If our survey results are anything to go by, this means that not many of you will be lining up to buy a QD-OLED monitor any time soon…
- Higher brightness
- Better longevity
- Reduced ambient contrast ratio in medium-lit rooms
- Much higher cost, as quantum dots are expensive to produce
- Low availability
Before OLED entered the gaming monitor market, the logical future for premium gaming and productivity monitors involved LCD panels with full-array local dimming (FALD) backlight. With the advent of mini-LEDs, both the maximum brightness and the number of individually-controlled dimming zones greatly increased. But can it compete with controlling the brightness of each individual subpixel, like OLED?
LCD panels with mini-LED FALD backlight still have some aces up their sleeve. Because of the large amount of individual LEDs extremely high peak brightness is possible. This enables great HDR experiences, but also means these panels are suitable for HDR content creation. Burn-in is not a concern, so the displays have greater longevity. The various LCD technologies are all mature and have over the years developed to support high resolutions and high refresh rates.
Because the dimming zones will rarely coincide exactly with the image on display, bright elements on the screen may show a halo around them. This is less noticeable the higher the number of dimming zones used, but increasing the number of zones drives up the price a lot.
Almost all major display manufacturers currently offer their own flavor of mini-LED backlight. Depending on the number of dimming zones and the display technology with which it is paired, the experience of using displays with mini-LED can vary greatly.
- Extremely high brightness
- Great HDR experience and content creation
- High resolutions at all sizes
- High refresh rates
- Longer lifespan
- Higher ambient contrast ratio in medium-lit rooms
- Higher response time
- Halo/blooming effect around small bright objects
- High cost, increasing with the number of zones
This is how AUO positions their IPS mini-LED panels against OLED.
After talking to the panel manufacturers and digging through their roadmaps for upcoming products, we curated a list of the panels that seem to best match your answers in our dream monitor survey.
* Prices listed are a rough estimation of the end product price, prices range from approximately $ 750 to $ 1 750.
** All panels have a response time in the <5ms range, except for the OLED panels which are in the <1µs range.
*** All panels cover at least 95% of the DCI-P3 color spectrum.
- Panel A
- Panel B
- Panel C
- Panel D
- Panel E
- Panel F
- Panel G
- Panel H
- Panel I
- Panel J
- Panel K
- None of these panels look interesting
Going into Display Week, we expected that OLED and its variants would turn out to be clear cut winners in the gaming space. Instead, we found that in the coming years we can expect strong competition between LCD and OLED. LCD manufacturers will focus on increasing refresh rates and brightness, while developing new polarizers that achieve better contrast. Meanwhile, OLED makers will focus on increased durability and brightness. A rising tide lifts all ships, so when all the companies involved in monitor development are pushing for improvement, the end user is sure to win no matter which technology comes out ahead!