Micro LED A technology that helps a display create bright and high-contrast images that is not possible with other familiar technologies. The manufacturers claim that the micro LED panel format has multiple advantages which include – increased brightness, longer lifespan and lower power consumption.
The technology was introduced by Samsung at CES 2018 and the company has finally released TVs of various sizes, including micro LEDs. However, these TVs are very heavy in the pocket, although they are all aimed at consumers. Micro LED is still a direct competitor to OLED and hopefully, the technology will become more affordable in the future so that it becomes a truly viable option for consumers. So, let’s dive into the details of how this technology works and how it can be a suitable alternative to OLED.
What is a micro LED?
As we discussed earlier, micro LED displays are almost like OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) panels made up of numerous microscopic LEDs, each display pixel being self-illuminated. The only difference here is that, unlike OLED displays, microLED displays use inorganic materials, which brings the advantage of ultra-low black levels, but with higher peak brightness.
Most mainstream LED panels are actually LCD panels with LED-based back or edge lighting. Micro LED panels do not require separate backlighting which means blacks are darker and whites are brighter without light bleeding which is usually associated with most LED-backlit TVs.
How does microLED work??
Micro LEDs achieve exactly the same results as OLEDs because they also have self-illuminating pixels. Like OLED, each pixel in a micro LED display has its own light source capable of turning on or off as needed. This helps to create better contrast and there is no light bleeding in the surrounding pixels. So, when you see a black pixel on the screen it means a pixel is off and there is no light.
How Is Micro LED better than OLED??
Brightness is not only important for determining how good an image is, it is also important for the HDR functionality of the content. MicroLED has a contrast ratio of 1,000,000: 1 and it can illuminate much brighter than an OLED display (which is up to 30 times brighter). Although OLED panels are improving, the maximum brightness of this panel is limited compared to other LED panels – such as Samsung’s QLED panel.
This is due to the inorganic substance (gallium nitride) used in the micro LED display. This component enables individual RGB LED sources to shine for longer periods of time. Organic matter in OLED panels decreases if the screen stays bright for too long. In contrast, the overall life span of inorganic matter is longer.
Advantages of micro LED panels for manufacturers
Micro LED technology is a modular technology where panels are made up of multiple small displays that are “woven together” to create a larger screen. This means that manufacturers can customize the panel according to customer requirements. It is a highly flexible solution that allows multiple ratios such as – 21: 9, 16: 9 and others.
You can expect micro LED TVs in irregular shapes in the future. Samsung further noted that upscaling and processing will not impair sharp image delivery.
Availability of micro LED TV
Samsung unveiled the 146-inch ‘The Wall’ 4K TV at CES 2018 and followed with a commercial launch of The Wall Professional – designed to set the industry in motion. Later, in 2019, Samsung unveiled a 219-inch version and in 2022 the company showed off a 1000-inch 8K 120Hz panel – noting the amount of this technology.
The South Korean tech giant also came up with a 75-inch 4K version for home customers, but it did come with a huge price tag. The company had plans to announce a new version in 2020-21, but those plans have not been updated yet.
LG has launched its own 175-inch Micro LED TV At IFA 2018, however, there is no update on the availability of TVs and the company seems to have switched its full focus to OLED TVs.
The future of micro LED panels
Micro LED panels have the potential to compete with OLED panels and even surpass them. Consumers will be able to see the same black layer but with greater brightness, lower power consumption and longer life.
The biggest disadvantage of the technology is its production costs, which are expected to decrease in the future, increasing the manufacturer’s investment. It can be a real competitor to OLED panels once it becomes more affordable.