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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 5:25:49 PM , Rating: 3
The GT60 is a 15.6" screen. Its 2880x1620 resolution gives it sqrt(2880^2+1620^2)/15.6 = 212 ppi, whereas 1920x1080 is only 141 ppi. Both of these are still far below the ~300 dpi resolving limit of the eye for something read from about 2 feet away. So of course the 3k screen will show a noticeable improvement. (Less so with text, since subpixel font rendering effectively turns the 1920x1080 screen into a 5760x1080 anamorphic screen.)

At 2 feet, your 15.6" screen covers the same angle as a 94" screen at the 12 feet typical for a living room. That would in fact be around the point where I would say a 4k screen is worth it. But a 50" screen at 12 feet is like a 8.3" screen at 2 feet. Do you really think a 3k or 4k display would be worth it on your laptop if its screen were just 8.3" diagonal?

All that said, there is one very important benefit we're hopefully going to see in about 20 years from these ultra-high dpi screens. When you get the dots smaller than the diffraction limit of light (a few ten-thousand dpi), you can start to create diffraction patterns instead of images. That means your display can create holograms. That's right - holographic 3D displays. I'm skeptical OLED can get that high in DPI, it'll probably be quantum dots which get us there. But that's what these insanely high dpi screens and super-fast 3D video cards are eventually going to result in.

RE: Why?
By inperfectdarkness on 4/13/2014 6:42:50 AM , Rating: 2
True, and I agree with your assessment. In the interim, however, the 4k & eventually 8k displays will push content creators to capture their media in higher definition formats...which in turn will mean that the image presented will be sharper, less blurry, etc.

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