OLED Vs. LCD What’s the Difference?

Competition and innovation are hallmarks of the consumer electronics market which has experienced practically uninterrupted growth for decades. Many consumers own a range of electronic devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet, TV, etc.), each of which is available in a plethora of options: brands; grades, formats; technologies. This technological array is further complicated by marketing terms that try to differentiate between competing products. Acronyms like OLED and LCD are rife in the electronics sector, but what is the actual difference between the two?

In this blog post, Avantama explores the base functionality of OLED Vs. LCD  to explain how these two display technologies differ.

Understanding OLED TVs: Market Trends & Performance

The inordinate popularity of smart consumer devices continues to drive growth in the global display market, currently valued in the region of $135 billion. Screens based on LEDs (light-emitting diodes) used to be the industry-standard, but trends towards device miniaturization, portability, improved efficiency, and greater picture quality gradually fuelled OLED (organic light-emitting diode) panels. Over the next few years, the OLED market is expected to expand by a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 14.27%.

Currently, OLED televisions outperform traditional LED products on several fronts. They come in a versatile range of formats: panels as large as 88-inches satisfy the demands of premium TV displays; while smaller AMOLED (active-matrix OLED) screens set the benchmark of picture quality in the smartphone industry. Foldable OLED devices have finally begun to enter the consumer electronics market too, fulfilling a long-standing promise from proponents of the technology.

How Do OLEDs Compare to LED LCDs?

Traditional LED TVs are based on liquid crystal display (LCD) screen technology; a tried-and-tested panel structure. On an LCD screen, images are produced by a thin layer of liquid crystal solution overlaid on a transistor grid which uses small electrical charges to set the individual crystals to an open/closed state. This produces a pattern of light and dark pixels, but the light itself is produced by a bank of LEDs arranged at the edges of the screen or in a backlit array.

The best possible picture on LCD screens is produced using a full-array LED backlight with local-dimming which yields the widest possible contrast. However, LCDs comprise multiple sequential layers within the panel (color filters, polarizers, etc.) which are necessary for producing fully-saturated images but may inhibit picture uniformity and viewing angles. This also makes LED TVs thicker and heavier, rendering them undesirable for applications where reduction of thickness or weight is important.

OLEDs circumvent each of these issues by eschewing a backlight in favor of a self-emissive panel of organic carbon-based material. This allows each subpixel onscreen to be controlled independently. Alongside greater dynamic ranges and energy efficiency, the unique characteristics of OLED panels allow for significantly fewer layers in the screen matrix. Consequently, OLED TVs are typically thinner and lighter in weight than conventional LCDs, but cost significantly more to produce than LCD displays.

Today’s LED market is in a state of flux, as novel approaches to LCDs using quantum dot formulations continue to emerge.

Learn More: Are Quantum Dot TVs Outperforming OLEDs?


Solution-Processed OLEDs from Avantama

Avantama is one of the industry-leading formulators for consumer electronics applications, generating solutions for today’s cutting-edge displays and devices. If you would like more information about our full portfolio of nanoparticle inks and dispersions for OLED manufacturing, simply contact a member of the Avantama team today.