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Is mini LED backlighting an IQ tax compared to OLED

How to buy a large-screen colour TV in the second half of 2021? There are Skyworth, Xiaomi, Sony-led promotion of OLED next-generation technology, but also Samsung, TCL and other strong support of mini-led backlight LCD technology: especially Apple will soon join the mini-led news, so mini LED backlight really heated up a lot. However, Xiaomi hit the 4999 yuan OLED TV, is more sincere in price.

Apple's choice is the "right" one?

Earlier this yearApplereleased the iPad Pro 2021, a 12.9-inch version of which is equipped with mini-LED technology. The news is that Apple may use this new technology extensively in IT products and medium screen products.

This news brings to mind the continuation of the classic design of the iPhone 6 to 9, with its 4.7 inch LCD screen; and JDI and LGD, Apple's core suppliers of mobile phones in that period. in particular, Apple had also taken on the cost of building a factory for JDI of around US$1.5 billion in order to obtain an adequate, fast and stable supply of high-end LCD screens.

In fact, during that period, JDI did make a bit of a comeback, becoming another benchmark star in the global display panel market second only to Samsung's OLED mobile phone screen project, representing the last glory of LCD mobile phone screens - but the good times did not last long, as LGD shifted to OLED panels and Samsung's OLED panel production capacity exceeded its own demand for mobile phones, Apple was also able to source more and more OLED mobile phone panels: JDI's LCD orders were deteriorating.

In 2021, JDI decided to "catch the last train" to OLED technology - and it is reported that Apple may also provide some of the funding for it: at least $200 million. This would be the final salvation for this once-meritorious company.

A lesson learned from the past: Apple's pressure on JDI's advanced LCD screens was in the context of OLED's only supplier at the time, Samsung, which only supplied its own mobile phone products - an important factor in Samsung's strong rise to prominence. With OLED production capacity in different panel factories in full bloom, Apple is bound to eventually abandon mobile phone LCD screens - from Apple's revenue accounted for up to 60% of JDI is really "success or failure is Apple's pot ".

Today, Apple in the medium screen, such as PC, NB, tablet PC and other products, the use of mini-led technology LCD products, a background is also Samsung and other is OLED screen into this type of medium screen product line: obviously, Apple and Samsung's competitive relationship, decided at least Apple is not likely to get enough OLED medium-sized panel supply from Samsung in the first place. At this point, is the mini-led assuming the same role as the historical JDI LCD mobile phone panels? This is a question worth pondering.

In any case, as an improved technology for LCDs - unlike metal oxide TFTs, low temperature polysilicon TFTs or the retina screen concept - mini LEDs are an improvement on LCDs, not yet "on the LCD itself", but simply "backlight progress" - mini-led can hardly represent the long-term direction of the future of the display industry, necessarily not the next generation of products. In the long term, the transitional nature of mini-led is very clear.

Mini-led pry HDR, can beat OLED

With the color TV market, and Apple's medium screen on mini-led technology accompanied by another concept: that is, the biggest benefit of mini-led, "zoned backlighting" also in 2021 wind up in the water.

Why have zoned backlighting, and the more you divide it, the finer it gets. Even Huawei TVs and Apple computers are emphasising more than two thousand backlight zones? Because the age of HDR content is upon us, and when HDR content is produced, different areas are subject to different "dynamic light intensity" ranges, thereby enhancing the depth of field of the entire picture. This also requires the display device to be able to dynamically adjust the "light field intensity" in different display areas.

Traditional LCD backlighting is an overall uniform brightness lighting system. And the liquid crystal layer of light valve effect, can not achieve absolute shutdown and black, which makes the LCD TV in the "contrast, depth of field" and other aspects of the inherent deficiencies. The common response to this is to increase the brightness level of the display: thus, compared to CRTs, rear projection TVs, PDP plasmas, SEDs, laser TVs and OLEDs, LCD TVs are the "brightest product choice" technology.

This technical characteristic of LCDs poses a huge challenge in the HDR era for the reproduction of highly dynamic content displayed in different areas. The only reliable way to do this is to have a backlight that is not uniformly "bright", but can be locally brighter or darker. This is zoned backlighting. And to do a lot of backlight zoning, say two thousand, obviously LCDs would require thousands or tens of thousands of backlight bead products - with mini-led beads this can be very well met.

So, the real technical route is this: the content industry is turning to HDR, LCDs need multiple backlight partitions in order to adapt to HDR, and LCD backlights have chosen mini-led which is more conducive to more partitioning technology.

So, how does OLED look in this HDR thing? The answer is that OLED itself is an active light-emitting product that adjusts the brightness of pixels point by point. There is no need for the backlight thing. In the age of HDR technology, the number of partitions in an OLED TV can be considered "the same as the pixel size". --In a word, OLEDs do not need additional technical support to cope with HDR.

That is, OLEDs naturally support HDR; LCDs need to support HDR through technological innovation (or, to put it mildly, patching to support HDR). Obviously, the disadvantages of LCD are magnified in the HDR era. Even with mini-led perfect match for HDR needs, this is also a very strong "cost factor". 55-inch OLED as little as 4999 yuan; and the same mini-led backlight has hundreds of HDR support partition LCD TV to how much money? At least there is no longer the price advantage of traditional LCD TVs.

Mini-led applications in LCD, the cost will be an important competitive dimension

If the price is the same, mini-led LCD and OLED who do you choose?" This is a difficult question to answer. Perhaps consumers are worried about whether OLED burns the screen, then consumers are not worried about the trailing effect of LCD TVs? A mixed bag of good and bad, each in its own way!

But what if OLED is cheaper than a mini-led LCD TV? Obviously going for OLED would be the right choice! This is of course a hypothesis of future possibilities, not an immediate reality.

Moreover, mini-led backlight technology is derived from small pitch LED display technology. At the same time, from the LED lamp bead integration density, control accuracy, reliability requirements of small pitch LED display technology needs to be higher than mini-led backlight: this allows mini-led backlight can "fetishism" has a lot of mature technology and process, which is conducive to the continuous reduction of its cost and rapid iteration. --This is particularly evident in the case of TVs.

However, if mini-led backlight technology is used in the iPad Pro or MACBOOK, the situation is different - small-pitch LED display industry, the application of mini-led technology, although in the integration scale, reliability, spacing indicators, etc., significantly higher than the requirements of the backlight system; however, in Product volume and thickness, but "not so demanding" requirements: if it is a large size TV products, mini-backlit LCD than OLED thickness of 1 cm, is not a big deal; but, for mobile devices, small and medium-sized screen, "thickness is the key "competitiveness.

On medium-sized screens, mini-led requires a slimmer package design and technology, while guaranteeing the same level of reliability. I .e., an 86-inch LCD TV might use 10,000 LED beads to support 2,000 backlight partitions, and a MacBOOK product would require almost the same "scale of integration and control". However, while LCD TV backlights allow centimetre-level thicknesses, medium screen and mobile products only allow millimetre-level backlight thicknesses. The latter will be the main technical difficulty and cost increasing factor.

In mobile phone products, OLED eventually beat LCD, especially in the middle and high-end to achieve market dominance over LCD, relying on 1. no backlight is obviously thinner and lighter, 2. structural components are simple, which also means cost-type competitiveness. Will such a story on the mobile phone screen be repeated on medium-sized screens, such as tablets, notebooks, PCs and other products - and thus on TV products? This matter also deserves great attention.

Who loses and who wins between mini-led backlit LCDs and OLEDs, cost competitiveness matters! However, cost is a factor that continues to progress as technology changes. In this regard, the "larger size of the more immature OLED technology" also means that there is more room for progress in the future.

To sum up, it is not really possible to say who is better between mini-LED LCD and OLED. However, in the case of mobile phones, the fact that no one is keen on mini-LED technology for LCDs in the face of the mainstream direction of OLED can serve as an example of who is the ultimate future choice. Of course, before this, just as JDI relies on liquid crystal progress, also ate a few years Apple dividend; mini-led brought about by the progress of liquid crystal technology, is also bound to eat a few years of dividends - until the moment of OLED fury.

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