The Chinese electronics manufacturer TCL has joined the list of display makers working on microLED displays – showing a 132-inch diagonal LED TV at last week’s IFA trade show, which you can think of as a European CES.
TCL’s Cinema Wall is made with 24 million individually controlled LEDs, has a 1,500 nits maximum brightness level and 2,500,000:1 contrast ratio, which means deep blacks.
MicroLED is the tech first introduced by Sony, with with its CLED or Crystal LED. LG showed an R&D version of a MicroLED at InfoComm and at recent display-nerd trade shows I have seen several companies working on the tech. Samsung markets The Wall, which it also touts as MicroLED.
TCL had a smaller version of this at CES 2019.
MicroLED is much more likely to trickle into the marketplace in this manner, as opposed to sweep in and arrive. There are big manufacturing challenges to overcome – notably the machinery that can transfer that many LED lights in an efficient, accurate way.
The equipment that makes conventional direct view LED displays picks and places each LED die individually. Though the machines are crazy-fast, making a screen with 24 million LEDs would take months or years. So R&D work is focused on ways to mass transfer large quantities of LEDs at once, and do so with utterly minimal manufacturing flaws.
When those issues get worked out, we’ll see more and more of these large format premium displays. I’m not sure if they’ll ever be made at a price point rivaling LCD TVs, but there’s certainly a market for preimum commercial video walls.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.