What is a QD-OLED Display?

Sony A95K QD-OLED TV
Credit: Sony

QD OLED, also known as QD Display or Quantum Dot OLED, is a new technology from Samsung that combines the best of OLED and quantum dot technologies. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

Taking on OLED displays

There are two leading display technologies found in modern televisions—OLED and LCD (LED-backlit LCDs, to be precise). Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, OLED TVs offer near-infinite contrast ratio and perfect black levels, but they can’t get very bright. On the other hand, LED-backlit LCD TVs (or LED TVs) can provide high brightness, but they need other technologies like full-array local dimming to offer an excellent contrast ratio. But even with FALD, the LED TVs can’t match the contrast ratio of an OLED TV. 

So despite their issues, OLED TVs have successfully captured the premium TV market. And as LG Display supplies OLED TV panels to every OLED TV manufacturer, it’s having a good time. But that doesn’t mean its compatriot and competitor Samsung is staying put. 

Samsung has been working with quantum dot and OLED technologies to bring something that can match the black levels, contrast ratio, and viewing angles of OLED TVs without compromising too much on the brightness. 

The result of Samsung’s work is here in the form of QD-OLED display. 

OLED and a bit more

Samsung Display says QD OLED panels can provide higher brightness than traditional OLED panels (up to 1,500 nits in HDR), lifelike colors, a wide color gamut, excellent viewing angles, and a very high contrast ratio (1,000,000:1). So basically, you get pretty much that OLED offers plus higher brightness. 

However, as QD OLED panels also use organic material, they are likely susceptible to burn-in, like traditional OLED panels. Burn-in is a screen artifact, most common with OLED panels. It refers to the gradual but uneven degradation of pixels. This occurs when consumers frequently watch content with static elements for long durations. So the pixels showing these static elements get used far more than the pixels around them. So over time, as these pixels degrade, the screen retains a permanent image of the frequently watched static elements.

What’s in the QD OLED panels

QD Display or QD OLED
Credit: Samsung Display

Apart from the electronics and substrate, the QD OLED panels employ a layer of blue OLED material and quantum dots. Additionally, like OLED panels, each pixel is self-emissive in QD OLED. When each pixel of the blue OLED material blasts blue light on the layer of quantum dots, the quantum dots create red and green sub-pixels. Some of the blue light is left as it, and it takes the place of the blue sub-pixel. With this, the red, green, and blue sub-pixels form the RGB color model, and they are mixed and matched to form other colors needed to display visuals on the screen.

In comparison, modern OLED TV panels sandwich a bunch of different colored OLED layers—typically blue and yellow/ green or blue, yellow/ green, and green to produce white light. This white light is then passed through color filters to create red, green, and blue sub-pixels, which are then mixed and matched to form colors needed for the visuals on the screen. The OLED TV panels also have a white sub-pixels, which is primarily present to enhance the brightness. 

But by using color filters, OLED TV panels sacrifice some of their brightness, whereas the quantum dot layer used in the QD Display panels doesn’t reduce the light energy. Because of this, QD OLED panels can achieve higher brightness than OLED panels despite using OLED pixels for lighting.

Brightness isn’t the only thing OLED TV panels lose because of the color filters, it’s also the color accuracy. These filters aren’t as efficient as quantum dots in converting colors, so QD Display or QD OLED panels get more accurate red, green, and blue colors than the current crop of OLED TV panels. This color fidelity also allows QD Displays to display a wider selections of colors.

How can I get a TV with a QD-OLED panel?

Sony A95K
Sony A95K. Credit: Sony

As Samsung has developed the QD OLED tech, it is the first TV manufacturer to bring a QD OLED TV on the market. The company announced at CES 2022 that it will release its first 4K QD Display TV in 2022. The TV is called S95B and it will retail in 55-inch and 65-inch sizes. Additionally, Samsung is also providing the QD OLED panel to monitor manufacturers.

Apart from Samsung, Sony will bring QD-OLED TVs to the market. Yes, unlike Samsung, it is calling the technology QD-OLED. The first 4K Sony TV with a QD-OLED panel is called the A95K. It’ll also arrive in 2022 in 55-inch and 65-inch sizes.

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