MicroLED technology is a next-generation emissive display technology that promises highly efficient and bright displays that offer superior image quality with infinite contrast and a wide color gamut.
MicroLED can be applied to displays of many kinds - from small displays for smartwatches and AR devices to large-area TV displays.
Tiled MicroLED TV displays
One unique feature of microLED technology is the ability to create seamless large-area displays made from small display tiles. This unique feature is interesting because it can creates extremely large displays in which the cost grows linearly with display size, unlike standard LCD and OLED TV displays which grows exponentially more expensive as display grows.
The Wall by Samsung
Several companies developed such tiled display technology, including Sony, Samsung, Konka, LG and others. Tiled large-area microLED TVs are available on the market today, but prices are very expensive and these are highly premium devices.
One interesting thing to note is that while most so-called microLED TVs are indeed emissive displays, the actual LED chips inside these TVs are not always miicroLEDs, but sometimes actually mini-LEDs (this is true for example in Samsung's TVs, at least for the first-gen models).
Consumer MicroLED TVs
Companies are also developing consumer-grade MicroLED TVs. These will be produced on standard TFT glass substrates, in a similar fashion to OLEDs and LCDs. Producing such consumer MicroLED displays at competitive prices is a huge challenge due to the extreme number of microLED chips - a 4K TV requires almost 25 million individual microLED chips - and these need to be produced on a wafer and transferred to the final TV substrate.
It will likely take many years before consumer MicroLED TVs at affordable prices can be produced.
The latest MicroLED TV news:
In September 2020 LG launched its MAGNIT MicroLED TV range. The company did not give many details about potential prices and size options, until now.
So LG's MAGNIT TVs now sit within LG's DVLED Home Cinema Displays. DVLEDs are available in sizes ranging from 108-inch HD (2K) resolution to 325-inch 8K settings. The pixel-pitch of LG's TVs is either 0.9 mm, 1.2 mm, 1.5 mm and 2.2 mm. This gives LG's customers a wide range of sizes and resolutions, as can be seen below.
Many believe that MicroLED technology will emerge as the next-generation display technology, and one of the first markets for such displays is the TV market. Several companies already offer microLED TVs - which you can already buy today. Assuming you have the money and a large enough room, that is.
As is often the case with new technologies, especially in the display industry, the first few years are marked with extremely high prices and limited selection. MicroLED TVs are no exception - as of 2021, they target the very high-end premium market, with very large TVs and prices starting at around $100,000.
But let's assume you really want to buy a microLED TV and can afford it. What are your options today?
Samsung electronics announced a new partnership with CJ ENM, to install a large microLED The Wall display at CJ ENM's studio which will enable a 'virtual production studio'.
The main display in the new studio will be a 20-meter diameter oval-shaped The Wall microLED displays, with a height of seven meters. The idea is that this will create a "seemingly endless backdrop to capture content."
It is quite challenging to produce microLED TVs, and while display companies all over the world are investing billions into R&D, and are developing new process and production technologies, we're still quite far from the emergence of mass production of microLED displays.
As we discussed earlier this month, it happens that even though the industry is still at an early stage, microLEDs are finding early market niches, mostly in AR/VR microdisplays and large-format TVs. Indeed the microLED TV market is promising and companies such as Sony, Samsung, LG, Konka and others already offer large-area tiled microLED TVs for the premium-consumer market. Here are some of the latest microLED TV updates that we published in recent months:
According to a new report from Korea, Samsung plans to build a new TV production line in Vietnam, that will be dedicate to microLED TV production. The new plant will begin production in 2022, and will be used to produce its upcoming smaller 77-inch and 88-inch TVs. Samsung is also expanding its facility in Vietnam which is currently used to produce the 110-inch microLED TVs.
Samsung aims to reduce the production costs of its MicroLED TVs, and has launched a project that will develop a TFT backplane for its future TVs (to replace the currently used PCBs). The company hopes that this will enable it to reduce the production costs of its microLED TVs to the level of its 8K QLEDs. This sounds a bit optimistic, at least for TVs in sizes such as 77-inch or 88-inch.
Samsung unveils a new microLED The Wall display, with upgraded performance, smaller LEDs and a thinner profile
Samsung Electronics announced a new microLED The Wall IWA display module, that offers upgraded performance and a thinner profile compared to its current displays. It has installed the first such display at its Suwon office, a 1,000-inch display (8K resolution).
Samsung says that the new module uses LED chips that are 40% smaller compared to current models (for which the chip size is around 100 um so the new ones are likely to be around 60 um). The new TVs support a refresh rate of 120Hz, 8K resolution, a brightness of 1,600 nits and a new enhanced AI processor.
Samsung unveiled its TV lineup for 2021 in its Unbox & Discover 2021 event. Included in this new lineup are two new MicroLED TVs aimed for the residential consumer market.
Samsung will start selling its MicroLED TVs by the end of the month (March 2021), with two models - 110-inch and 99-inch in size. In the fall Samsung will release a 88-inch model, and it also revealed that it has a 76-inch model on its future roadmap.
Austria-based C SEED announced a new MicroLED TV, the 165-inch 4K C SEED M1. This TV uses a unique foldable design, which makes use of seven large MicroLED panels that can be unfolded and be inserted into the floor.
Unfortunately C SEED does not detail much about the display itself, or who produces the MicroLED tiles. The price is around $400,000.