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Circuit Breaker

The next generation of LCD displays could go toe-to-toe with OLED screens

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LCD strikes back

Panasonic announced last week that it has developed a new kind of IPS LCD display with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, making it competitive with far more expensive OLED technologies. As HDGuru reports, the new technology offers a massive improvement over most of today's LCD displays, which tend to have an average of about a 1,800:1 contrast ratio.

Ever since plasma TVs met their untimely demise, the best picture quality has tended to come from OLED displays. While traditional backlit LCD panels tend to be cheaper and easier to make, they also feature a worse contrast ratio and less deep blacks when compared to OLED monitors, something that Panasonic’s new technology hopes to address.

The disparity in image quality between the two types of displays is caused by the fundamental technologies of OLED versus LCD. OLED displays work on a pixel-by-pixel basis, only lighting up where there is an image to display (and allowing for the deep, true blacks that the technology is known for), but LCDs use a backlight that illuminates all of the display cells at once. If you increase brightness of that backlight to get a brighter picture, you start to wash out the display, while lowering the backlight's intensity will get better blacks, but at the expense of crisp, bright colors.


Panasonic's new technology works by using light-modulating liquid crystal cells, which are able to control the light at each point on a pixel-by-pixel basis to reap the same benefits as OLED is able to offer. By controlling the amount of light allowed to pass through, the display can offer both bright whites and dark blacks on a OLED-competitive level, to the tune of a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio (the ratio of the brightest white to the darkest dark — higher is better).

However, despite the appeal of a LCD display that offers picture quality on par with OLED sets, it seems unlikely that you'll be able to buy a TV for your living room with Panasonic's new tech anytime soon. Panasonic had announced earlier this year that it was exiting the consumer TV market, and the new LCD displays are slated for use only in business focused medical and automatic contexts when the company begins making test displays in January 2017.

But while Panasonic's sets may never find their way into a consumer model, the new technology still could find a way into improving the quality of LCD displays in the future, if tests are successful.