OLED HDTVs, for much of the past decade, have built a reputation that makes them the gold standard in the ultra-competitive high-end TV market.
Among OLED TV owners out there, most would agree that sparkling reputation is well-deserved. You just can’t achieve the same picture quality, black levels, contrast ratio and wide-viewing angles on other types of panels.
In recent years, this next-gen technology has creeped into laptops as well. We are, however, still in the early innings of this tie-up, considering that the first OLED laptops weren’t introduced until 2016.
But it seems that OLED laptops, even with their higher price points, are here to stay, as they have found a loyal following among gamers and OLED HDTV enthusiasts.
Despite being able to boost the visual experience of work-related projects and graphically intensive games, OLED laptops—like their smartphone and TV counterparts—still can’t shake that pesky burn-in issue.
Ultimately, the dilemma is that all organic light-emitting diode screens—whether they are on LG, Sony or Apple devices—can suffer from burn-in. From what studies have shown, OLED screens are more susceptible to this particular issue than standard liquid crystal displays, which long have been used for laptops.
Burn-in occurs whenever a persistent part of the image of a screen, such as a channel logo or a scoreboard from a sports game, remains as a ghostly background no matter what else is being shown on the screen. These static image elements have “worn out” certain areas of an OLED screen’s organic materials faster than the rest of the screen. By sharing the same display technology as OLED TVs and smartphones, OLED laptops are also vulnerable.
Yet, as annoying as this can indeed be, OLED burn-in will likely not happen with normal use. In fact, most burn-in is actually image retention, which often disappears after a few minutes. Keep in mind that in most cases, you’ll witness image retention long before it becomes permanent burn-in.
If you’re still unsure about shelling out a couple of grand on a laptop that might have burn-in issues in the future, perhaps it’s best to wait a few years. In a multibillion-dollar venture, Samsung is in the process of culling the best strengths of both quantum dots and OLED to create a QD-OLED hybrid panel.
In a nutshell, the design of this next-gen panel would further simplify the light conversion process—having OLED create blue light and then relying on quantum dots to convert some of the blue into the colors red and green. This could, theoretically, finally put an end to the seemingly unsolvable issues of image retention and burn-in.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. He currently resides in Minneapolis.