LED panels are already flooding the market for computers, tablets and televisions. Manufacturers and brands are also developing their different technologies with their own trade names to differentiate themselves from the rest. OLED or QLED are some of the most popular, but the next big leap is just around the corner. The mini-LED concept has been flying over the technological atmosphere for some time and even some brands already see it as the next revolution in panels. Rumours of Apple’s more than possible use of this technology for its iPads and computers have only encouraged its development. Only a few days ago, an MSI laptop was announced that would have a mini-LED panel with the aim of attracting the attention of a very demanding content creation public.
What ‘s the mini-LED technology?
The mini-LED panels are an evolution of the LED panels that we have in the vast majority of our devices. Specifically, it is about miniaturizing the layout and size of the current LEDs to a density that provides better image quality.
To get a general idea, the standard size of an LED used in current panels is 1,000 microns and the mini-LEDs that will take off in this 2020 are about 200 microns. This difference allows, in theory, to incorporate 25 times more mini-LEDs than LEDs in the same surface.
The mini-LED panels do not have color or image information. They are limited, like traditional LEDs, to emit light through an LCD panel to the use that does contain the basic RGB colors for the formation of the final image.
In LED and mini-LED panels with FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) technology, the LCD is illuminated from the back to an arrangement of LEDs placed across the screen. Managing the on/off switching of each (we can have thousands) would be too expensive so manufacturers group them into affordable packages.
Traditional panels have less LEDs than mini-LEDs (for pure space, as mentioned above) and therefore also less of those packages able to turn on and off.
On the other hand, panels with mini-LEDs offer more packages and more independent governable zones. In other words, the devices will have more elements with the ability to turn on or off if ordered.
This translates directly into purer dark colors and more intense dynamic color ranges. It then comes to hog some of the prominence harvested by OLED panels but at a lower cost. Because, as we have indicated before, it still needs LCD as mini-LED panels do not emit color by themselves.
Beyond mini-LED: micro-LED
Just when we thought the mini-LED was the best, the technology that will succeed it, is already in the works. The micro-LED consists of miniaturizing the LEDs even more, achieving sizes of 100 micrometers and incorporating more advanced technologies.
In the mini-LED panels we need a LCD panel to get color, as with traditional LEDs. On the other hand, micro-LEDs incorporate image information so they are capable of emitting RGB colours on their own.
This allows us to manufacture thinner screens than those formed by mini-LEDs. The technology is not very mature and is currently being tested. The manufacture of micro-LEDs and displays is very complex, so we have to wait a few years.