How MicroLED technology could change the future of TV and cinema. MicroLED is a video display technology that uses microscopic-sized LEDs that, when placed on a video screen surface, can produce a viewable image.
Each MicroLED is a pixel that emits its own light, produces the image and adds color. A MicroLED pixel is composed of red, green and blue elements (referred to as subpixels). MicroLEDs can be illuminated, dimmed or activated or deactivated individually.
MicroLED vs OLED
The MicroLED technology is similar to that used in OLED TVs and in some PC monitors, portable and wearable devices. OLED pixels also produce their own light, image, and color and can be individually adjusted or activated or deactivated.
However, although OLED technology shows excellent quality images, it uses organic materials, while MicroLED is inorganic. As a result, the ability to produce OLED images decreases over time and is susceptible to “burn-in” when static images are displayed for long periods of time.
MicroLED vs LED / LCD
The microLEDs are different from the LEDs currently used in LCD televisions (includes LED / LCD and QLED) and in most PC monitors. The LEDs used in these products and similar video displays do not actually produce the image.
Instead, LEDs are just small bulbs positioned behind the screen, or along the edges of the screen, which pass through the LCD pixels containing information about the image. Color is added when light passes through additional red, green and blue filters before reaching the screen surface.
The microLEDs are much smaller than the LED bulbs used in LED / LCD and QLED televisions.
- MicroLED pixels do not degrade over time and are less sensitive to image persistence, not subject to burn-in, which are limitations with OLEDs. They are also brighter than OLED pixels – on a par with the brightness capability of LED / LCD pixels, but just as capable of OLEDs in displaying absolute black and equivalent levels of color saturation.
- It supports low latency and faster refresh rates without depending on frame interpolation, black frame insertion or backlight scanning (Good news for players!).
- It is possible to provide an angle of wider vision than the current LED / LCD technology.
- High light output capable of supporting HDR and both internal and external display
- Compatible with both 2D and 3D viewing applications.
- Lower energy consumption compared to LED / LCD and OLED technology if you compare equivalent screen sizes.
- Better visualization for large applications. The current external video displays, as well as in shopping malls, arenas and stadiums are bright. However, the LEDs used in these displays are not much smaller than the LED Christmas lights you could use at home. As a result, it is often possible to see the LED structure of the screens which makes them irritating after displaying them briefly. Using much smaller MicroLEDs, a smoother “TV-like” viewing experience is possible for outdoor environments and large environments.
- MicroLED supports the construction of the modulator. TVs, PC monitors and video displays are generally made with a single panel and the screen of a film is usually a sheet of fabric. However, a MicroLED display can be assembled from smaller modules to create any screen size needed in different proportions. This is suitable for commercial applications, such as large digital signage displays (such as external displays used in Las Vegas, display boards and video displays used in arenas and stadiums) or as a replacement for video projectors/screens in cinemas.
The sizes of the modules (ie the cabinets) vary according to the manufacturer. One module size used by Samsung is 2.6 x 1.5 x 0.2 feet.
- Difficult to adapt for monitor screens for PCs or wearable, portable PCs, with reduced dimensions that require high resolutions.
- The modular design supports installation on the wall only for applications with larger screens.
- Very expensive production costs due to the precision required to position the MicroLEDs on a support surface.
How MicroLED is used
MicroLED displays are mainly used in commercial applications but are slowly becoming available to consumers through special order (you can’t still go to your local Best Buy or order one on Amazon – yet).
- Samsung Wall: Samsung markets its MicroLED displays for both business (digital signage) and home use as “The Wall”. Depending on the number of modules assembled (overall screen size), users can view images with 4K or 8K resolution. The dimensions of the modular screen assembled for 4K are 75 and 146 inches (4K), 219 inches (6K) and 292 inches (8K).
- Samsung cinema screen: the Samsung cinema screen (also known as the Onyx screen) uses MicroLED modules to assemble large screens required by cinemas, eliminating the need for a traditional projector/screen configuration. The cinema screen is brighter, can display higher resolutions and is compatible with 3D. The cinema screens were installed in selected cinemas in South Korea, China, Thailand, Switzerland – and now in the United States
- Sony CLEDIS – CLEDIS acronym of ( C rystal LED I ntegrated S ystem or S TRUTTURA). Sony is implementing its variation of MicroLED mainly in digital signage applications, but Samsung is also promoting its use in the home environment. The screen sizes proposed are 146, 182 and 219 inches.
MicroLED promises a lot for the future of video displays. It offers a long life without burn-in, high light output, no backlighting system required and each pixel can be activated and deactivated allowing the display of absolute black.
These features exceed the limits of OLED and LCD video display technology. Furthermore, the support for modular construction is practical because the smaller modules are easier to build and ship and are easily assembled to create a large screen.
On the flip side, MicroLED is currently limited to large-screen applications. Although already microscopic, the current MicroLED pixels are not small enough to provide 4K resolution in TV monitor screens and small and medium-sized PCs, but Samsung is commercializing a 75-inch diagonal screen size option for home able-to-use to display images with 4K resolution. Larger screens can display resolutions of 8 K or more depending on the number of modules used.
Apple is also making a concerted effort to integrate MicroLEDs into portable and wearable devices, such as mobile phones and smartwatches. However, reducing the size of the MicroLED pixels so that devices with smaller screens can display a viewable image, while the economic mass production of small screens is definitely a challenge. If Apple succeeds, you could see MicroLED flourish in all screen-sized applications, replacing both OLED and LCD technologies.
As with most new technologies, the production cost is high, so MicroLED products are very expensive (prices are generally not provided publicly), but they will become cheaper when more companies join and innovate and consumers buy.