LCD displays used in TVs, computer monitors, phones and tablets use a backlight overlaid with a layer of liquid crystals. An Organic LED (OLED) screen uses light emitting diodes and works without a backlight. OLED screens provide better picture quality and consume less power but are more expensive. Another advantage of OLED displays is the possibility of having flexible (bendable and rollable) displays, which would likely revolutionize how gadgets are designed, used and stored. This is an in-depth examination of LCD and OLED technologies, how they work and their pros and cons.
|LCD TV||OLED TV|
|Thickness||Minimum 1 inch||OLED TVs are thinner than LED TVs (hence all other TVs) because of the size of their diodes|
|Power consumption||Requires less power to operate when compared to plasma, but more than OLED TVs||Requires less power than an LCD or Plasma TV|
|Screen size||13 - 57 inches||Up to 55 inches (yet)|
|Burn-in||Not an issue||Burn-in is unlikely, but OLED TVs are susceptible to burn-in if TV is abused.|
|Cost||Much cheaper||$9,000 - $15,000|
|Life span||50,000 - 100, 000 hours||Not yet tested. Recent improvements allow up to 43,800 hours|
|Viewing angle||Up to 165°, Picture suffers from the side||170 degree viewing angle|
|Mechanism||Backlight covered by a layer of liquid crystals||Organic Light emitting diodes|
|Used by||iPhone, HTC Sensation, iPad 2||Samsung Galaxy S II, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Nokia Lumina 800|
|Contrast Ratio (measure of the blackest black compared to the whitest white)||Up to 15000:1 (not as good as Plasma)||65000:1 - 1,000,000:1|
|Energy consumption||Much greater||Less|
|Motion lag||Not an issue||Too early to tell|
Pros and Cons
OLED displays have higher contrast ratios (1 million : 1 static compared with 1,000 : 1 for LCD screens), deeper blacks and lower power consumption compared with LCD displays. They also have greater color accuracy. However, they are more expensive, and blue OLEDs have a shorter lifetime.
However, LCDs are more readily available, and are usually considerably cheaper than OLED screens.
The following video shows a comparison between LG15" OLED display TV and a Dell Notebook with LCD display.
Advantages of OLED over LCD screens
- OLED displays are very light in weight.
- Deeper blacks
- OLED displays offer a much better viewing angle. In contrast, viewing angle is limited with LCD displays. And even inside the supported viewing angle, the quality of the picture on an LCD screen is not consistent; it varies in brightness, contrast, saturation and hue by variations in posture of the viewer.
- Extremely high contrast ratio - above 1,000,000:1 static.
- Sharper picture; more and better colors.
- Lower power consumption when displaying dark colors.
- There are no geographical constraints with OLED screens. LCD screens, on the other hand, lose contrast in high temperature environments, and lose brightness and speed in low temperature environments.
- Extremely fast response times, so there is no ghosting effect or display motion blur.
- OLED screens can be flexible, bendable displays.
Disadvantages of OLED compared with LCD screens
- The "O" in OLED stands for organic, which makes the display vulerable to water damage.
- Blue OLEDs degrade more rapidly than the materials that produce other colors. Because of this, the manufacturers of these displays often compensate by calibrating the colors in a way that oversaturates the them and adds a bluish tint to the screen.
- OLED screens are more expensive compared with backlit LCD screens because they are more difficult to manufacture.
- With current technology, OLED displays use more energy than backlit LCDs when displaying light colors. While OLED displays have deeper blacks compared with backlit LCD displays, they have dimmer whites.
Common drawbacks of LCD and OLED displays
- Poor readability and display in bright ambient light such as outdoors in direct sunlight.
- Some pixels may be defective pixels or get "stuck" either through use or even during the initial manufacturing process.
How LCD screens work
LCDs use liquid crystals that twist and untwist in response to an electric charge and are lit by a backlight. When a current runs through them, they untwist to let through a specific amount of light. They are then paired with color filters to create the display.
How OLED screens work
OLED uses organic carbon-based compounds that emit colored light when stimulated by an electric current.
LCD and Polarized Light
In this video, Stanford Assistant Professor Aneesh Nainani demonstrates how an LCD screen appears totally black when covered by a sheet of polarizer.
Products and Availability
AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is a different form of OLED used in some mobile phones, media players and digital cameras. It offers higher refresh rates with OLEDs and consume a lot less power, making them good for portable electronics. However, they are difficult to view in direct sunlight. Products with AMOLED screens include Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S II, HTC Legend and PlayStation Vita.
Production size and cost
The Sony OLED SEL-1 is 11” and costs $2499, but prices may come down as production rises. A 15” LED screen costs approximately $180.