Study Says: OLED Screens Not Coming to Handhelds Soon

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For the past several years, many have assumed that OLED screens would inevitably replace the LCD screens currently used in handhelds. However, a new study by iSuppli/Stanford Resources says that it will be a long time before OLED displays are regularly used in handhelds.

OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays take advantage of the fact that some organic compounds glow when an electrical current is applied to them. Just as with LCDs, these come in two forms: passive matrix and active matrix. OLED displays offer brighter colors and crisper video and don’t require a backlight and so are thinner and lighter than LCDs.

Unfortunately, there are drawbacks. According to the iSuppli/Stanford Resources study, “Due to materials limitations, passive-matrix OLEDs in the size and pixel format needed for PDAs are too power hungry to work well.” It also says, “Active matrix OLEDs in PDA sizes cannot yet be manufactured reliably.”

This doesn’t mean they won’t be used at all. Monochrome OLED displays will be used in many places where monochrome LCDs are used now.

Also, OLED screens will frequently be used as sub-displays, the secondarary screens many smartphones use. For example, the just-announced Samsung SGH-i500 has an OLED sub-display.

The Domination of Color

The iSuppli/Stanford Resources study also predicts the continuing rise of color displays over monochrome ones. In 2002, 46% of handhelds had a color screen. That number will rise to 72% by 2006.

Active matrix LCDs will be in 50% of all PDAs sold in 2004, and that percentage will continue to increase. This despite the fact that passive matrix screens are 60% cheaper.

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