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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 Solandri on 4/12/2014 4:42:39 PM , Rating: 2
There is a very noticeable difference in printed black and white text going from 300 DPI to 600 DPI

There's only a slight, subtle improvement to text if you go from 300 dpi to 600 dpi. I doubt 99% of the population would ever notice it if you didn't point it out them. Back in the 1990s all the printer reviews included magnified images of the text output. While the difference between 300 and 600 dpi was there, it was slight.

There's actually a bigger quality difference between inkjet and laser. Inkjet is substantially worse than even 300 dpi laser, but you don't see that impacting sales of inkjet printers. Here's a 2400x1200 dpi inkjet vs 600 dpi laser.

and text looks even sharper going from 600 DPI to 1200 DPI, even if you can't make out the individual pixels at 600 DPI

There is no perceptible improvement to text beyond 600 dpi. At that point the quality of the printer and toner makes a bigger difference than the dpi.

300 dpi is about the point where it's "good enough" for most people. The real reason laser printers have gone up to 600 and 1200 dpi is because they can only print in black and white. Either there is toner or there isn't - there is no greyscale. So the printer has to simulate grey by half-toning (printing patterns of dots which simulate a greyscale). Going to 600 dpi allows you to give a 300 dpi "dot" 3 shades of grey (in addition to black and white). Going to 1200 dpi gives you 15 shades of grey.

RE: Why?
By GTVic on 4/14/2014 3:58:19 PM , Rating: 2
Good summary.

My criteria for acceptable would be if you are talking about CAD graphics on a display, the desired end result is smooth lines at any angle without resorting to anti-aliasing.

And where you can easily tell the difference between closely spaced line weights (e.g. 1mm vs 1.1mm) when shown side by side.

I don't know what DPI you would need for that but I'm guessing 600 at least.

RE: Why?
By Ktracho on 4/15/2014 3:05:11 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know if you were using laser printers to print text back in the late 80's / early 90's. Reading a book printed at 300 DPI is definitely more tiring than one printed at 600 DPI, even when there are no pictures involved, where half toning would come into play. And if you compare a book professionally printed at 2400 DPI, text looks even sharper than printing on a 600 DPI laser printer - compare something printed with a 600 DPI laser printer and a professionally printed textbook, for example. Perhaps where it doesn't make a difference is when you use low-quality fonts like Courier or Arial (commonly used for web sites, for example), but it's definitely noticeable with fonts like Baskerville, Bodoni, or Goudy's fonts, or even Palatino. I do agree that while dots can be discerned at 300 DPI, few can discern them at 600 DPI, and even then only by putting the paper right up to their eyes. I could be wrong, but I don't think half toning comes into play (or at least should not be theoretically necessary) with text.

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