While many are only concerned with the arrival of the 8K standard for LED TVs, another revolution in screen technology is happening much more quietly. We’re talking about MicroLED, an important development for displays that bets on extremely reduced pixels to produce a very high quality image, especially in movies and games.
Today we are going to talk a little about what MicroLED technology is, where it is, what advantages it has over traditional LCD models and also OLED, and what you, the consumer, can expect from it.
The Wall – MicroLED model assembled by Samsung for CES 2020
MicroLED: A new star in the TV industry
In most cases, the screens of our electronics consist of small LED light points, called RGB. This acronym is adopted because each pixel is made up of a group of 3 red (red), green (green) and blue (blue) lights that, when combined at different intensities, can produce millions of colors.
These pixels have undergone constant miniaturization, which allows manufacturers of televisions, and especially laptops like our smartphones, to create models with very high resolution screens. Currently, the TV standard is 4K, with 8K and 16K already on the horizon.
Although the number of pixels is high (in the order of millions), those bright spots on LCD screens still depend on the backlight to create the image. The problem is that this technique has limitations in terms of contrast and color uniformity since entire areas of the screen are illuminated.
This is where MicroLED technology comes in, an extremely miniaturized version of traditional LED. These new pixels consist of microscopic chip wafers and are thinner than a hair’s breadth at only 0.003 mm². They are able to emit their own light just like OLED without a backlight.
Be thinner than a hair.
This change alone is enough to achieve a significant improvement in image quality. But another detail catches the eye: the rest of the surface receives a special treatment in black, which makes dark scenes even more convincing.
All the benefits of OLED, without the hassles
The combination of these factors results in MicroLED screens having an “infinite” contrast ratio as claimed by some manufacturers, although other companies use the figure of 1,000,000:1 in their descriptions.
Still in comparison to OLED, MicroLED panels offer greater brightness and are particularly suitable for bright environments. On its page dedicated to Crystal LED (the name Sony gave to its version of MicroLED), the manufacturer claims that these screens can easily reach 1,000 cd/m2. It is a number considered ideal for consuming new generation content, especially in HDR.
The result of all this is unrivaled image quality (by today’s standards) that should please art, imaging and video editing professionals who have an accurate reference of the material they are developing. For gamers, the new standard can bring vivid images with state-of-the-art HDR certification, creating a true visual spectacle.
MicroLED as the best choice for gaming?
For gaming, however, the most important feature of MicroLED technology in monitors and televisions is the ultra-fast pixel response, which guarantees a clear picture in all circumstances. This avoids blurry scenes, especially in action games with sudden camera turns, and also guarantees a fast response time between your commands and the picture, without the risk of input lag.
These new pixels are also already being advertised as compatible with high refresh rates. This is ideal for making 120Hz TVs and monitors that support FreeSync or G-Sync. Another highlight is the reduced energy consumption, especially when using high-brightness scenes.
Another highlight is the reduced energy consumption.
As if these weren’t enough advantages, the MicroLED panels are also highlighted by the fact that they don’t suffer from burn-in, a very common problem in OLED models that leads to image retention, with pixels not working properly after they “parked” for a long time in the same color and intensity.
Irregular formatting with a row of MicroLED modules
And when can I buy a MicroLED TV?
Current MicroLED panels, represented at CES 2020 by brands such as Samsung and LG, will only be demonstrated in large formats (e.g. models over 65 inches).
While there is already enough technology to build consumer televisions, the manufacturing process is still maturing. There are several errors in the production of wafers and assembly line, which requires slow processes and is not suitable for mass production.
As a result, any MicroLED TV would be too expensive to sell at retail today. How expensive do you want to know? Well… around $240,000 for a 118-inch 4K model and a whopping $1.26 million for the 236-inch model…
With this in mind, the solution found by the brands, for now, is to bet on modular options that can be assembled in any format or configuration desired by the customer. For example, this can inspire brands to create displays for their stores.
While not currently viable, this scenario can change quickly as companies adapt their equipment and methods. As such, many experts say it’s only a matter of time before affordable products hit the market – which has happened again with Full HD, 4K, HDR and so many other innovations in TVs and displays.
According to experts, it is only a matter of time before the products hit the market at affordable prices.
Starting this year, companies like Apple are likely to rely on the mini-LED, an intermediate technology between LEDs and microLEDs for smartphones, tablets and PCs. For now we just have to wait and see. Who knows at CES 2021, right?
Source: Digital Trends, Tech Quickie, Linus Tech Tips, Sony Crystal LED