A lot of the media is attracted to the loopy products that turn up each year at CES – like robots that deliver toilet paper rolls – but if you pay more attention and follow outlets that genuinely cover tech advances, there’s good stuff amidst all the noise.
An announcement by the Chinese display maker TCL is generating some buzz, as it has a new premium LCD display that has mini-LEDs as its backlight, and embeds those teeny light pixels right in a sheet of glass.
The company calls it a miniLED TV, but that’s a continuation of the confusing and misleading marketing that has been going on in the TV business for years. It is an LCD TV with mini-LED backlighting.
The company explains it in this press statement: TCL’s new Vidrian Mini-LED technology is the world’s first TV backlight with the driving semi-conductor circuitry and thousands of micro-meter class mini-LEDs directly infused in a crystal-clear glass substrate.
Vidrian Mini-LED technology is the next stage in pushing LCD LED TV picture performance to unrivaled levels of sharp contrast, brilliant luminance and highly stable long-life performance. When combined with TCL’s big-screen 8K LCD panels, this high-performance backlight technology will enable consumers to enjoy an immersive experience in all lighting conditions.
Unlike competing older-generation self-emissive TV display technologies, TCL TVs powered by Vidrian Mini-LED technology will deliver exceptional contrast and powerfully brilliant luminance for any TV viewing lifestyle. By infusing pure glass sheets that span 65 inches or larger with thousands of tiny light sources and all the circuitry that’s required to individually control the precise light level in each zone of the TV’s screen, the powerful TV performance will be in a league of its own.
The display showing at CES this week is an 8K and has – based on what I read elsewhere – 25,000 or so LEDs in its backlight array, all locally controlled. That means that LCDs have gone in the last 10-15 years from being lit by skinny fluorescent tube lighting to generalized rear or edge lighting from LEDs, to zoned backlighting, and now to targeted lighting down to very small areas. So if a small area of a visual is black, the light pixel or pixels for that small area can be dynamically turned off, just in that area – creating better contrast.
This is a TV thing, for now, but one of those advances likely to find its way to commercial displays, like those used in digital signage.
This is a shot I took at TouchTaiwan last fall, involving a display driver company, showing a naked mini-LED backlight with 4,500+ local dimming zones, side by side with an LCD using a duplicate LED array.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 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.