Tap Tap Tech - Episode 8: Screen Technology

By Onlinecomponents.com |

Hey there, Josh here for OnlineComponents.com, this is Tap Tap Tech. Today, we’re going to discuss screen technology. In my own, personal claim to fame, the first all electronic television was invented by a family member - my great grandfather's cousin, Philo T Farnsworth. In 1927, at the age of 21, Philo successfully demonstrated the basic underpinnings of the cathode ray tube television, which begs the question - what have I done with my life?

Anyway, cathode ray tube displays have been slowly fading out of use over the last decade but it had been the undisputed leader for over eighty years, though with many improvements in that time. Now, though, flat screens have dropped significantly in price and are everywhere as computer monitors, television screens, phones, watches - basically everything that needs to display information. But the new flat screens operate on a significantly different principle than the old style CRT and there is even quite a bit of difference how the flat screens work among themselves.

CRT screens basically shot an electron gun at a phosphor coated screen. The electron gun shoots the electrons, an electromagnet around the gun steers the electrons to hit the appropriate place on the screen, causing the phosphor to glow. LCD screens, on the other hand, are simply a matrix of red,green, and blue dots that, depending on whether or not a voltage is flowing through them, allows light through them. Now, I've noticed a lot of confusion between LCD displays, LED displays, and OLED displays. So, let's get this straight.

LCD displays, in all their forms, are backlit. The LCD portion simply allows the backlight through or blocks it, it doesn't create any light. When you hear about LED displays, they're talking about switching the backlight from fluorescent bulbs to LED. This, in general, gives a more even lighting and is more energy efficient, but that's about it. OLEDs, on the other hand, are completely different. The sources of color are the same sources, they're basically grids of incredibly small, colored LEDs. This means that when you want black, you turn off the light source instead of trying to block it, meaning much darker blacks. They're also more energy efficient, allow thinner screens, feature fantastic viewing angles, have orders of magnitude faster refresh rates than LCDs, are easier to flex, and have actually dropped in price to merely extremely expensive levels instead of insanely expensive.

This may be an incredibly brief overview of screens, but it's obvious that screens have come an incredibly long way from their inception and that size and resolution aren't everything. And while I am currently highly impressed with OLED displays, I will admit that in twenty years, I'll probably laugh at this clunky, outdated technology compared to the incredible images our overlords transmit directly into our brains.

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