Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Zune HD and OLED screens

Reading From OLED to Tegra: Five Myths of the Zune HD by Prince Mclean on AppleInsider.com made me want to research more about OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology and how much of an upgrade (or downgrade) would it actually be versus the LCD displays of today.

UPDATE: 10/6/09: OLED Association response to Apple Insider’s OLED myth article

The article bashes the use of OLED on the Zune HD display with arguments below. I collated and outlined references that counter the author’s claims.

OLED’s don’t last long – The electroluminescence layer degrades far more rapidly than regular LCDs

True enough that the blue organics currently have much shorter lifetimes than the red and green films. It doesn’t mean that your Zune HD will conk up on you after just using it for a 3 or 5 years. If OLED’s don’t last long then why are monitors, mobile phones and laptops switching to OLED? People use those often than a portable media player. DisplaySearch, a Display Market Research and Consulting firm also estimates that 2011 will be the OLED Era.

OLED panels are hard to use outdoors - That’s why Zune HD demos are said to be done indoors or on low-light conditions

Partly true, OLED having no backlight may have problems when viewed outdoors or under direct sunlight but so does LCD’s and any other technology that has a reflective surface (eg. Macbook Pro Glossy Displays and iPod Touch’s glass screen) I’m sure Apple will adopt OLEDs in the future on it’s iPods like the Zune HD. It already has wifi, radio and Genius Mixes :)

We’ll never really know until we compare a Zune HD to the iPod Touch, hope somebody tries both devices under the sun. It’s just absurd to say that Microsoft intended to cover up the “OLED outdoor lighting flaw” by displaying and showing it to the press on a dark room. They will sell these eventually and people will know so what’s the point in covering it up? A dumb observation by the author.

OLED still use more power - OLED technology consumes power based on how bright the image it is displaying is. Essentially, OLED is the backlight.

That’s exactly it! Because OLEDs produce/emit light they do not require a backlight at all as opposed to LCD which needs (thus consuming more power than OLED).  OLED is black when pixels don't light up while traditional LED still requires back-lighting the whole display so black is still lighted up, requiring power all the time.

If it’s not power efficient, portable devices wouldn’t bother using it at all. Power efficiency is as important as portability for those on-the-go and companies know better than to embed a power drainer on these devices. See a list of portable devices using OLED displays, including Zune HD.

Advantages of going OLED

OLEDs are lightweight, durable, power efficient and thus ideal for portable applications. They are able to replace the current technology in many applications due to the following performance advantages over LCDs:

  • greater brightness
  • faster response time for full motion video (100 to 1000 times as fast as LCDs)
  • fuller viewing angles, almost up to 180°
  • lighter weight
  • greater environmental durability (e.g. lesser concussion sensitivity)
  • more power efficiency
  • broader operating temperature range
  • greater cost-effectiveness

Source: OLED-Research.com

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