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Should we believe AUO's 513 ppi QHD claims; also: high resolution smartwatch display also announced

Taiwan's AU Optronics (AUO) -- the entity formed from the fusion of Acer Display and Unipac Optoelectronics Corp., and later Quanta Display -- has been a key player in the mobile displays market since its formation in 2001.  In recent years price fixing accusations have set AUO back and the Taiwanese firm has been overshadowed by its South Korean competitors, such as LG Display Comp., Ltd. (KRX:034220) and Samsung Display (the subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935)).

But AUO appears to be bringing its A-game to the era of smartphone QHD (quad high definition) displays.

The company this week announced a gorgeous 5.7-inch WQHD (2560x1440 pixel, 513 pixels per inch) AMOLED display.  A mere 0.57 mm thick, the display also packs advanced drivers for supporting super-precise multi-touch detection of up to 10 touch points simultaneously.  AUO also announced a 1.6-inch smartwatch display -- which may be based on the flexible OLED display tech. that AUO has been working on. 

While there's reason to get excited about AUO's claims of having the world's highest resolution OLED display and the first officially announced AMOLED/OLED QHD display, there's also plenty of cause for skepticism.

AUO has been gunning hard to join the elite ranks of display manufacturers capable of OLED mass production, a club that includes Samsung Display, LG Display, Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) (Japan), and Sharp Corp. (TYO:6753) (Japan).  But it's been for AUO to move away from its breadwinning LCD display manufacturing technology, a technology that is approaching obsolescence in the high end market.

AUO girl

In 2012, AUO reportedly abandoned plans to upgraded its Generation 3.5 OLED fab in Taiwan for mass production, instead reserving it solely for research and development.  With that decision, responsiblity for AUO's display future came to rest largely on a Generation 4.5 fab in Singapore, which had faced many delays in reaching sufficient production volumes.

Today that fab is reportedly still only getting yields of around 40 percent, and is just now submitting 720p (1280 x 720 pixel) smartphone panels to Chinese OEMs to try to win production bids.  Meanwhile companies like Sony, Samsung, and LG already have 5-inch 1080p OLED/AMOLED panels on products in the wild and reportedly are seeing much higher yields.

AUO's OLED effort has struggled to reach production levels.

Thus don't be surprised if AUO is beat to market by its more succesful rivals.  QHD panels are expected to be found in smartphones that goal on sale later this year, or at the latest, early next year.  Next year will potentially bring the first round of "4K" smartphone displays, a mobile display technology that Samsung and others are currently running through the prototype phase.

While AUO deserves some criticism for its history of delays, it also deserves modest praise for actually completing OLED product (at 720p) that may reach actual handheld devices.  By contrast Innolux Corp. (TPE:3481) and RitDisplay, AUO's local Taiwanese competitors, both promised OLED, but appear to have abandoned that push having failed to make it out of the prototype phase.

Sources: AUO, OLED-Info

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Where's the OLED TV!
By milktea on 4/11/2014 1:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
If they can make 2560x1440 OLED 5" screens, why can not they make a 45" OLED TV?

RE: Where's the OLED TV!
By Fleeb on 4/11/2014 2:31:57 PM , Rating: 2
Because a 5" panel is still a 5" panel regardless of the resolution.

RE: Where's the OLED TV!
By GulWestfale on 4/11/2014 2:46:16 PM , Rating: 2
the cost of OLED TVs is very high, because it is far more difficult to make a single, large panel than to make a bunch of smaller ones.

you can buy them, but they cost a bit more than a phone.

RE: Where's the OLED TV!
By Mint on 4/11/2014 10:59:37 PM , Rating: 2
I want one too, but let's not be technobrats. Or in the words of Louis CK:

To this day I'm still amazed at how cheap large screen LCD and plasma are. Fundamentally it's the same photolithography process used for computer chips, in similar cleanrooms, except the product is over 5000x the area.

RE: Where's the OLED TV!
By flyingpants1 on 4/12/2014 3:59:25 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Where's the OLED TV!
By ritualm on 4/12/2014 5:41:08 PM , Rating: 2
If they can make 2560x1440 OLED 5" screens, why can not they make a 45" OLED TV?

A single dead pixel on a 45" TV is an immediately visible manufacturing defect, but is imperceptible on a 1440p 5" phone display unless you run specialized software to detect their presence.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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