Micro LED VS OLED
Micro LED VS OLED
I know I say this a lot, but this truly is going to be an interesting one. Folks, today we have Micro LED vs OLED! Chances are you may not be familiar with the former, (or even the latter for that matter) but just know that it’s extremely exciting since it’s being fabled as the one display technology that could be crowned the new visual king.
What makes it even more interesting is the fact it’s not out yet! Yes you heard that right. As of right now, it’s likely that micro led won’t be available for quite some time. Now when I say quite some time, I’m not saying it won’t be here for decades or anything like that, just that it remains to be seen when the first fully integrated, commercial display is mass released.
Because of that fact, this is going to be more of a speculative article since I honestly haven’t seen the tech for myself yet. What we can do however, is look at the experiences of insiders & people who have seen it, to get a sort of general idea of how it might compare along with some general thoughts on it as a whole.
Hopefully that makes sense. Believe me, when it’s commercially available, I’ll undoubtedly purchase one to give you guys an idea of whether or not it’s worth it, but for right now, we’ll have to go off of what other experts have experienced thus far.
What Is OLED & How Does It Work?
Before all of that though, a few may still be shaky on what exactly OLED is, so I’ll go over that first. OLED is actually an acronym that stands for organic light emitting diode. What does that mean though? Well it’s basically just a fancier way of saying its a compound capable of producing its own light when given power.
Now the way that it works is actually really cool. Without getting too in depth, (because it can get pretty complicated) for every pixel, when an electrical current passes through it, it glows a specific color depending on the filter being used for that pixel. This is where things get really interesting though.
Whereas the average television today uses a backlight to produce a picture; an OLED doesn’t. Instead of a backlight, each individual pixel acts as it’s own backlight in a sense So when an electrical current is detected, it happens to light up.
Also unlike a normal display where other nearby pixels light up when one is active, with OLED, each individual pixel acts on it’s own accord. So when a scene calls for a white object on a black background, only those specific ones are active while the others are completely off.
I did a complete article on OLED if you’re really curious about the nitty gritty on it. https://easyhometheater.net/oled-tv-technology-explained
The Benefits & Drawbacks Of OLED
The biggest benefit of this technology is an incredible black level. You’ll often see people touting the importance of black levels in displays, for good reason; the darker the black level of a screen, the more realistic and satisfying the image appears to be.
The crazy thing about OLED is that it has infinite blacks. I mean think about it, what’s darker than a pixel that’s already off? Exactly. So because of that, what you get are images that look incredibly realistic; better than anything you’ve likely seen to date.
To top it off, colors also get noticeable boost in intensity and scope. This 1,2 punch of amazing colors, and incredible black levels is what makes it so well renowned. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have it’s drawbacks as it definitely does.
The first downside has to do with HDR content. When compared with an LED TV with the same content, it doesn’t quite reach the same luminance. The first time I heard about this I was skeptical, but when I saw it for myself, I certainly did notice it.
Another potential drawback really has less to do with the technology, and more to do with its accessibility if anything.
Given that OLED is time intensive to produce, the price could catch a few people off guard when comparing similarly sized displays. I will say it has gone down a good amount in recent years, so that’s also something to think about.
Screen burn in was also something that use to be an issue. The good news is that this was typically an issue with earlier sets, so it’s not really much of a problem anymore.
What is Micro LED & How Does It Work?
Now when it comes to Micro LED, you’ll be really surprised to know that it’s been around for a little while now. In fact, Sony even released a TV back in 2010 dubbed “Crystal LED Display” which was the first to utilize it.
(If you’re curious about the history and technical aspects of how it works, you can read more about that here)https://www.ledinside.com/outlook/2016/8/overview_of_micro_led_history_and_current_developments
The more general question though is what is it? Well think of it this way. You know how the typical display has some sort backlighting system that it uses to display an image? Imagine instead, that you had a tiny backlight for every single pixel there is. Sounds like it’d be pretty awesome right?
Well as luck would have it , that’s exactly what it is. Rather than using utilizing the more conventional lighting system, every single pixel is individually lit by its own LED. What that means is only the pixels that need to be on for a given scene are, while the others remain off. This offers a level of precision that’s unprecedented.
The Benefits Of Micro LED
So of course with that, there are some serious, noteworthy benefits afforded here as well.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, black level is one of the most important metrics of a quality display. The darker the blacks, the better. Why? Because this is what give a scene that realism factor. Have you ever seen a television that looked somewhat washed out?
Well besides being calibrated wrong, it’s also likely that that set had poor black levels. You won’t have that issue with this tech, since it has an infinite black level. That means it can’t get any darker than this, which overall means you’re going to be getting some seriously impressive images.
More Accurate Images
Due to the fact that each pixel acts independently of one another, that means that only the ones that need to be on for a scene will be. The rest will remain off until they’re needed This is extremely similar to OLED in that regard.
Because of that, scenes in whatever is being viewed will look far more realistic. On top of that, this also negates an issue with typical LED panels called light bleed. This is where parts of the picture become illuminated that shouldn’t be, resulting in uneven picture quality.
Brighter Picture Than OLED
This is something that is definitely interesting to think about. OLED, as remarkable as it is, doesn’t seem to get as bright as a normal LED; at least when it comes to HDR content. Micro LED on the other hand, was supposedly developed with this in mind.
So hypothetically, it should offer a brighter picture than the former when it comes to that type of content; much like the current excellent display technology QLED.
As you can imagine, there’s also a few drawbacks to keep in mind as well. While these could be thought of as temporary issues, they’re still issues that are present right now nonetheless.
Being that an LED has to be supplied for every pixel, this is where the problem arises. Doing so takes a large amount of time & effort just for a smaller screen. For a larger display like a TV or monitor, it takes exponentially more.
On top of that, the smaller the display, the harder it is to create since the LEDs have to be smaller due to there being less space overall. Developers have yet to come up with a more efficient way to create them.
This pretty much ties in with the first point. Because of how much time it takes to create one of these displays, the price is pretty up there to say the least. The first screen of this kind has yet to be released, but there’s already talks of the first one being over 6 figures. Obviously it won’t be that price forever, but for the time being, that’s what it’s speculated to start at.
What Are People Saying About Micro LED
Talks about the actual technology have been overwhelmingly positive for the most part. They’re saying that it could potentially take on OLED from what they’ve seen so far. But it’s also important to keep in mind that this tech is in the prototype stage and not finalized.
That just means it’s not possible to speak on it definitively until the final product is out. Here’s an article that rounds up some of the top industry leaders’ opinion on it thus far. https://www.ledinside.com/news/2017/12/what_industry_professionals_say_about_micro_led
Also here’s a pretty cool video on Samsung’s first venture into the mix with a 146 inch TV being dubbed as “The Wall”
There’s also talk that at some point in 2019, Samsung will also be releasing a 75 inch consumer ready version of this technology. Only time will tell, but if this proves to be true, then we’ll no doubt be in for a treat.
Which One Do I Think Will Be Better?
So, which of the two do I think will be better? To be honest with you, I’d have to say I’m torn for a number of reasons. I say that because I personally have an OLED screen, so I know how incredible it looks. But at the same time, here’s a newcomer that checks all the boxes that should hypothetically be superior.
Yet therein lies the problem, I haven’t personally seen it yet with my own eyes to speak with certainty. I mean it does have infinite blacks like OLED, while being able to achieve a higher brightness, so I technically think it should be able to edge it out when it comes to picture quality.
But the fact that a single Micro LED screen is so hard to mass manufacture compared to other TVs makes me a little hesitant to start calling this the new golden standard.
Until they figure out a way to create them much faster, I just can’t see it overtaking OLED; even if it hypothetically beats it in the visual department.
Even when it comes to viewing HDR content, my QLED TV definitely edges out my OLED when it comes to peak brightness and color volume so I have no doubt MLED would expound upon this even further.
So to answer the question, I’m thinking Micro LED should definitely be superior, but only time will tell for sure.
When Will It Be Available?
Even though we’ve seen prototypes of micro led in things like “The Wall,” (which actually comes out sometime this year) industry leaders have been tight lipped in regards to when they’ll be commercially at smaller sizes.
If I had to take a guess, it’ll at least be a good 3-5 years from now unfortunately; and that’s being optimistic. Until the manufacturing process is perfected, it just won’t be something that’s commercially viable. Even others seem to share similar sentiments. https://www.wired.com/story/microled-samsung/
So here we have Micro LED vs OLED, two somewhat similar technologies with two radically different approaches. One is already available, while the other has yet to see the light of day. While I’m unable to say which is better at the moment, I will say that I have a feeling that given they perfect the yielding issues, Micro LED should be able to come out on top.
But then again who knows. Guess we’ll have to revisit this rematch when it comes out right? 😉