MicroLED Is The First New Screen Tech In A Decade. Can It Beat OLED?

For two years in a row, Samsung has wowed crowds at CES with a wall-size TV that uses a technology called MicroLED.

At 219 inches, the newest version of The Wall — as Samsung calls it — is absolutely gigantic. But even better, the company now has one that’s smaller. A new 75-inch MicroLED TV is still just a prototype with no word of when it will go on sale, but you can buy the original 146-inch version of The Wall now. You’ll have to order one to find out how much it costs since it will vary based on installation. “A lot” is a safe assumption.

So what makes MicroLED special?

In short, it’s the first brand-new display technology to be commercialized in more than a decade. The last was OLED, which debuted in TVs on the Sony XEL-1 in 2008 and now dominates the TV picture quality race as well as powering most high-end phones. But even today the vast majority of screens, from TVs to laptops to tablets to phones, use older LCD technology instead of OLED. It has taken years for OLED to become more mainstream, and you should expect a similar (long) path for MicroLED. In other words, don’t expect to be able to afford a MicroLED TV anytime soon.

Samsung was the first to take MicroLED to market, but it’s not the only one in the game. LG is working on MicroLED, too, and showed a demo panel at the IFA show in Berlin, while Chinese TV giant TCL had a MicroLED TV in its booth at CES 2019. Sony has been working on some variation of direct LED TVs since as early as 2012, and both it and Samsung showed similar technology for movie theaters and other huge-screen commercial uses.

The tech could also light up tiny screens. Apple currently uses OLED displays for the high-end iPhones and the Apple Watch, but it’s reportedly developing its own in-house MicroLED displays for use in mobile devices, starting with the watch. Details are scarce and it’ll likely be years (if ever) before Apple brings it to market, but Cupertino’s interest provides further evidence that MicroLED could be big.

It’s easy to see why. MicroLED has the potential for the same perfect black levels as OLED with no danger of burn-in. It can deliver higher brightness than any current display technology, wide-gamut excellent color and doesn’t suffer the viewing angle and uniformity issues of LCD―CNET

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