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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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RE: Why?
By Motoman on 4/11/2014 7:06:13 PM , Rating: 2

People can't grasp the fact that there are 5mp cameras that take better quality photos than some 10mp cameras. Likewise, there's an inherent disconnect with reality for people who think massively high resolutions on tiny screens like smartphones makes any real-world difference.

But I've hashed through this before, and have even gone so far as to do live "taste tests" on unsuspecting bystanders to prove the point. We reached "good enough" in screen resolution a long, long time ago. And in this case, good enough is definitely good enough...there's virtually no chance a given person would actually notice much difference between this screen and a similarly-sized screen at a quarter of the resolution. Or probably even less.

Stupid is as stupid does though. And the customer is always going to be convinced that they need the one with the bigger gee bees.

RE: Why?
By wordsworm on 4/12/2014 11:53:42 AM , Rating: 2
Hassleblad does make a 50MP camera. MP do make a difference. I won't touch anything under 14, but even that will choke on something as detailed as a tree. The more MP there are, the easier it is for the camera to catch edges and not fuzz up so badly. Yes, glass makes a huge difference. Lighting makes a huge difference. And 'film', or the ability of the sensor to translate light into code, also makes a difference. But make no mistake, a higher MP rating is important. They don't put 10MP sensors on high end cameras.

RE: Why?
By Sivar on 4/12/2014 12:04:06 PM , Rating: 2
MP does make a difference in that you need a certain PPI for printouts, so higher MP cameras can produce good-looking, larger printouts. Cropping and zooming are of course more of an option as well.
However, the context is consumer-grade P&S and mobile phone cameras with tiny sensors. A 4MP image from an EOS1D has much higher quality per pixel than a 16MP image from a Galaxy S5.

RE: Why?
By bug77 on 4/13/2014 12:18:58 PM , Rating: 2
Hassleblad does make a 50MP camera. MP do make a difference

They do. They place 50MP over an area that is 50x larger than a compact camera's sensor that these days packs 16MP or more. See here:

They don't put 10MP sensors on high end cameras.

Nikon's D4 is 16MP.

There is a point in having more pixels, but the user has to understand how to match the sensor to the lens, to AF performance (important if they plan on shooting action), to the lighting. Otherwise, it's like putting a Ferrari engine into a Camry.

RE: Why?
By Jeffk464 on 4/14/2014 3:18:52 PM , Rating: 2
I kind of like taking pictures and video in native format. So right now I think 1080 is good but soon will want 4K. I definitely want my pics to be 16:9 format.

RE: Why?
By bug77 on 4/15/2014 10:11:45 AM , Rating: 2
I don't. I like 5:4 or even 4:3.

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