MicroLED TVs: What you need to know
MicroLED displays were all the rage at CES 2019, but what is it and how does it work?
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What is MicroLED?
MicroLED is a new type of display technology, like LCD, LED and OLED. It's basically a smaller version of a typical LCD, but it's self-emissive which means it doesn't need a backlight. MicroLED screens are made up of a bunch of smaller panels that are tethered to each other, making them highly modular.
What are the benefits to MicroLED?
MicroLED brings with it a range of improvements over other new display technology.
Samsung said at its CES 2019 press conference that the technology will enable customisation since it can provide panels that "can be personalised to your space".
Like OLED, MicroLED panels don't require a backlight. However, MicroLED doesn't contain any of the organic material that is responsible for degradation over a long period of time in OLED.
When MicroLED arrives, we should be able to expect similar picture quality as OLED with higher brightness, greater longevity and no risk of burn-in.
High Dynamic Range (HDR), designed to increase contrast and make the image appear to have greater detail, requires tons of light for the best experience. There are different ratings for HDR, but the lowest level of VESA certification requires a peak brightness of 400 nits and the flagship rating requires 1000 nits. MicroLED is more capable of producing that amount of all-important HDR light.
Who makes MicroLED TVs?
Samsung is by far the biggest and most prevalent player in the MicroLED space, with its CES 2018 prototype "The Wall" being one of the highlights for the company's show presence. In 2019, the company stepped it up a notch with a 75-inch screen and a 219-inch model.
Samsung's president of visual display business Jonghee Han said Samsung's "MicroLED technology is at the forefront of the next screen revolution", clearly indicating the company's interest in developing the technology.
Samsung's rival LG has also presented a functional MicroLED display, but it doesn't appear to be pushing anywhere near as much as its Korean counterpart.
When can I get MicroLED?
The tech is clearly one of Samsung's focus areas for displays, as this is the second consecutive year MicroLED has been a key part of its CES presence, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to get your hands on a fancy new MicroLED display any time soon.
MicroLED in the mainstream display space isn't going to appear right away, and it will undoubtedly be insanely expensive when it first launches for consumers years down the line, as we've seen with other display technologies. We'll update this guide as new options appear.
In the meantime, if you're after a new TV, learn how to compare TVs and choose the right one for you.
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