Dec 29.2023

Digital Screen Types – The Technologies

Moving Forward – Here and Now

The "Pros and Cons"

Digital Screen Types in Development

Cutting Edge Digital Screen Technologies

One of the first electronic displays was the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT), invented in 1897. In 1922, CRTs became commercially available. The CRT is a simple screen device with an electron "gun" that shoots electrons at a phosphorus-coated glass screen, thus creating an image on the outside visible area. These screen types were the first televisions and computer monitors.


That was just the beginning.


Moving Forward – Here and Now


Improvements include a wide range of digital screen types that are more efficient, have superior images and amaze consumers. To know more about digital screen technologies, a deeper appreciation of them is critical. Whether one is a video enthusiast, consumer, or marketer, a basic knowledge of screen technology is essential.


The first technology to forcibly step forward in the market was the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). To this day, LCDs are the most common display type in the market today for televisions, computers, smartphones, security monitors, and more. They are inexpensive to fabricate and have good image quality. LCDs have poor viewing at angles and limited color spectrums.


LCDs create images by modulating light with liquid crystals. The crystal's alignment changes when an electric field activates under digital control. Pixels are the result (tiny areas of illumination).


Presented images are manipulated digitally to create light and color of the pixels. Because the pixels are close and minute, a clear picture accurately depicts graphics, videos, and photos. LCDs comprise the lion's share of the screen market, from televisions to computer monitors and tablets to smartphones.


Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (OLED) have taken hold among videophiles. OLEDs have better contrast, superior image quality, better viewing at angles, and faster responses than LCDs (quick changing of pixel colors). However, OLEDs are expensive to fabricate, with costs passed on to consumers. They have a susceptibility to screen scaring (damage).


Organic thin films are the OLED's light-emitting layers. Transparent conductors, typically made with zinc or tin oxide, act as electrodes controlling the film's current flow. A plastic or glass substrate forms the base layer, and a polymer protection layer seals the environment out.


This complex organic light-emitting diode screen technology relies on several scientific principles. But the outline of OLED is plain. In organic thin films, images created on the visible screen appear when an electric current is applied and digitally manipulated. Color filters and drivers control colors, contrast, graphics, and images. Drivers, especially, control current flows. A backplane has integrated circuits to control single pixels.


Quantum Dot LED (QLED) is a newer innovation that has yet to prove itself to consumers. By using quantum dots, image quality improves. The color range and crisp brightness outpace LCDs. Screen scaring reduces, and durability increases. Still outstanding is a more market-ready price point.


Often confused with OLEDs, QLED technology has similarities and differences. A variant of LCDs combines with QLEDs using quantum dots to improve image quality.


Quantum dots are tiny semiconductor nanocrystals that produce color and light. A backlight shines through a layer of blue quantum dots. The digitally controlled blue light converts to green and red, providing a broad spectrum of color. Thus, outpacing LCD screens. Like an LCD, QLEDs have a liquid crystal layer controlling the light that passes through the pixels. Color filters refine colors, driver circuits control current throughout the screen, and backplane integrated circuits control each pixel.


Plasma displays are unique and primarily used for giant televisions and digital signage. They have excellent color representation, great viewing at angles, deep blacks, and the whitest whites. Plasma screens have fast response times with little or no blurring. These screens are power-hungry, heavy, and thick, so they aren't used in smaller devices (smartphones, tablets, desktop screens).


The "Pros and Cons"


LCDs are an inexpensive alternative to OLEDs. Consumers already accept LCDs, and manufacturers want to keep costs down for their devices. The downside is that innovation has outclassed LCDs in clarity, definition, and color by a wide margin.


OLED technology is the standard bearer of all LED-based screen designs. It produces higher-quality images, has better contrast, and has fast response times. Unfortunately, screen scaring occurs too often, and prices have yet to be accessible to many consumers. QLEDs are an improvement to some degree because of less screen scaring, but their price point remains high.


Digital Screen Types in Development


The miniLED, also called microLED, is a working model offering even more improvements than the standard screens. Once entering the market, high costs will ensue while even more technologies are evolving. The next screen innovations will solve many problems with the original screen types.


MiniLEDs and microLEDs are sometimes called mLED or µLED. They use arrays of microscopic LEDs, creating elements within each pixel. This means each pixel is "self-emissive." The result is wide viewing angles, perfect black, and high-contrast graphics and pictures. Their most significant selling points are durability, energy efficiency, and eliminated screen scaring. These LED variants will move into production soon, and production costs will lower as the technology matures. First adopters will encourage more investment and improvements in this near-perfect technology.


Direct View LED technologies fork from micro-LEDs with larger LEDs. The screens are more affordable for the mass market by pedaling back on ultra-small LEDs. Customers will especially favor them when on a budget.


Completely transparent LED film can add images on windows for storefronts and signage. Further developments in flexible LED promise greater functionality for wearables and smartphones.


Cutting Edge Digital Screen Technologies


Consumers are about to face sweeping changes in the screens they love. These technologies surpass the rectangular screens that have been in use for many decades. These innovations will adapt to the consumer, be interactive, and immersive. Prototypes and some stumbling efforts have made strides, but they have yet to take hold.


Retinal display devices that project images to the eye's retina are under development. Many theoretical variations may soon come to the market. This technology will provide hands-free information in real-time. There are health and ethical issues that still need to be explored more.


Biometric displays are in their infancy. Locking and unlocking doors and cell phones is only the start. Under development are physiological tracking sensors for eye movement, and heart rate monitors may include emotion-aware devices that adapt to the user experience.


Long seen in science fiction, holographic displays have already attracted consumers' attention. These three-dimensional (3D) prototypes are already stunning but too bulky. The future of holographic displays may be developed in many formats like televisions, monitors, and small screens. Rendering holographic images on table tops and room spaces may become common.



Visuals are entertaining and communicate ideas and stories. The screens we use at work, at home, and for pleasure have evolved in our lifetimes. The early televisions rendered images in black and white, and the first computer monitors were monochrome. Today, screens are on the verge of a reality-like appearance. From tube televisions to flatscreens, LCD to QLEDs, and all the variations, there is no way to know what tomorrow will bring – the future is now.