Technology preview: What is MicroLED?

(Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision for Samsung/AP Images)

CES 2018 has long since finished, and the dust has began to settle in Las Vegas. There was some exciting tech, and some utterly awful tech. One thing that stood out above the mountains of obscure incredible tech was Samsung’s “The Wall”…

What the heck was it? Is it the future, and can I buy one even though no one’s really sure what it is just yet? Well I’ve done my reading and I’m going to try and do my best to explain the tech behind it and why Samsung have chosen to showcase it. Right, let’s cut straight to it.

Samsung’s “Wall” was a prototype/concept technology that in a very similar fashion to OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) scraps the idea of a backlit panel in favour of very tiny little LED lights each of which comprises of a red, green and blue sub pixel that can provide its own light. Unlike OLED, MicroLED technology uses gallium nitride, a non-organic material that creates black depths similar to OLED, but allow for a higher peak brightness.

A gallium nitride crystal because… science!

The nitty gritty is that OLED technology uses organic materials that can, in time, decrease in luminance, and ultimately have a life span. The non-organic technology that Samsung is using can be pushed harder for longer and produce a brighter screen than OLED rivals, which may be a bit extreme for some, but fans of bold and bright pictures should be very excited about this new tech.

To summarise, MicroLED seems to be the better option? Well technically it could be, but the problem is that whilst the technology seems great on paper there are certain costs that come with jumping in to the future. If there wasn’t, all of our soldiers would be running round in Iron Man-style super suits! To give you a rough idea, MicroLED technology is made one sub-pixel at a time, and a 4K television has 25 million sub-pixels. That isn’t cheap, no matter which way you look at it. Not yet anyway.

Another really interesting point is the bezel-free, modular design that isn’t limited to shape or size, which will allow consumers to customise their televisions to suit their needs.

Whilst Samsung have promised the Wall will be available “soon”, it’s not going to be for your average joe, unless average joe happens to own a super yacht, or Facebook. As we all know money can buy anything (except friendship apparently…) and whilst you may be desperate to get your hands on the latest MicroLED television the truth is it’s not ready. During CES Samsung where incredibly protective of this screen, not allowing a single person anywhere close to the 146” wall, because it’s not a fully realised technology yet, not even close.

Samsung have quoted between 2 and 8 years before we start to see MicroLED tech in consumer televisions, so whilst it seems great on paper you may as well sit tight and continue to accept the fact that OLED is and will continue to be king of the television world for some time, well at least the next 2 to 8 years anyway…

Author: Garrett, Plymouth store