Market Insight

[Display Dynamics] Comparing the LCD TV, dual cell LCD TV, mini LED backlight LCD TV, QLED, and OLED TV

September 27, 2019

David Hsieh David Hsieh Senior Director, Displays

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Key findings

  • The mini LED backlight LCD TV has the greatest contrast ratio and high-dynamic range (HDR) but the cost might be higher than OLED.
  • We estimate a dual cell 65” 4K LCD module price is $650 to $800, which is 2–2.5 times the standard LCD TV module cost. Hisense announced its dual cell LCD TV is $2,500, which is higher than Samsung’s 65” 4K QLED TV price.

How big is the high-end TV market? And what kind of TV can really dominate the space of the high-end market? The answer to these questions has been critical for display and TV manufacturers. IHS Markit defines a retail price of more than $1,000 as a high-end TV, which means the display panel will be at least $500 of that retail price.

As we analyzed in the [Display Dynamics] Market position of self-emissive display in high-end TV, the self-emissive display market could grow to as little as 9 million units per year up to as many as 26 million units per year. The self-emissive display and 8K thin-film-transistor (TFT)-LCD display will lead the high-end TV market. Samsung Display is leading the market with its LG Display and quantum dot organic light-emitting diode (QD OLED) display. These are self-emissive displays containing the white OLED panel.

However, with the new development of backlight technology – especially on the mini LED and micro LED – and the new local dimming technology, the self-emissive display has competition within the high-end market. The mini LED LCD TV panels also have high-quality dimming, contrast ratio, High Dynamic Range (HDR), and color gamut.

There are multiple display technologies developed for the high-end market:

  • Dual cell: As we analyzed in the [Display Dynamics] Dual-cell LCD TV: A new way forward, dual-cell technology involves layering a 1080p panel between the LED backlight and 4K panel, resulting in the highest dynamic range ever using LCD display technology. BOE and Innolux have developed and promoted the dual-cell technology to Chinese television makers such as Hisense, Skyworth, and Konka. 
  • FALD backlight: Full array local dimming (FALD) is a type of LCD TV with the direct-lit LED backlight. Instead of having an edge light across the bottom, FALD displays have lighting zones all around the screen of the TV. These lighting zones provide the light that then goes through the filters and produces the picture on the LCD TV. The zones can also be dimmed independently of one another. That helps produce deeper blacks than a standard LCD panel.
  • Mini LED backlight: Equipping an LCD TV cell with mini LED backlights then achieving the high contrast ratio through the mini LED backlight dimming is not a new concept. As we analyzed in the [Display Dynamics] BOE develops a micro-LED backlight for high-end large 8K LCD TV displays, BOE first developed an LCD TV via this method in 2017. Direct LED backlights perform HDR through 2D dimming. Because micro-LED backlights have more LED chips than direct LEDs, there are more zones for local dimming to achieve even better HDR. Theoretically, using a micro-LED in the backlight unit as the light source will not require the traditional wire bonding and frame of LED arrays, which means the cost of the frame and gold wire can be eliminated. This type of TV was discontinued because of cost challenges. However, in 2019, panel makers are revisiting the concept. These panel makers include AUO, China Star, and Tianma, as we analyzed in the [Display Dynamics] AUO, BOE, China Star, Tianma, and JDI show multiple mini-LED backlight LCD panels at SID Display Week 2019.
  • QLED: “QLED” is a term Samsung coined for its high-end TV. It represents an LCD TV with a QD LED backlight. The current solution is to add a QD layer in the backlight unit to stimulate the color gamut, as we analyzed in the Display Backlight Market Tracker. The QLED and OLED TV can be compared in a few aspects, including Samsung versus LG Group, LCD versus OLED, and QLED versus OLED. As we analyzed in the Analysis of Samsung acquisition of QD Vision, Samsung is developing QD technologies, but Nanoco and Nanosys are also leading the QD materials development. While many TV brands are focusing on OLED for their high-end segment, many TV makers, including TCL, are focusing on QD TV.
  • OLED: OLED TV is now leading the high-end TV segment, but there is much competition from other emerging display technologies. Furthermore, the limited supply and limited product mix are also hampering OLED growth. LG Display has monopolized WOLED production and is the sole WOLED panel supplier. In the near term, there are no other display manufacturers planning to enter this market. As we analyzed in the [Display Dynamics] LG Display diversifies OLED TV panel product lineup, LG Display is now looking forward to expanding its product mix and production.

The below chart compares the high-end TV technologies.

The comparison is based on a 65” 4K TV.

The followings are the pros and cons for these technologies:

  • Dual cell TV

With the great combination of the monochrome FHD cell and the standard 4K cell, the dimming can be up to the pixel level, therefore it can achieve the mega-zone local diming. This is superior than the other backlight dimming technology. However, the biggest challenge is the lamination of the dual cell. Instead of the air bonding, the display makers chose optically clear adhesive (OCA) to laminate the dual cells, and the yield rate is a big challenge. The current yield rate is estimated to be only 30–40%.

A dual cell TV should be combined with edge-backlighting, not direct. A local-dimming direct backlight unit (BLU) can provide a contrast ratio of more than 100,000:1. There would be little benefit to add dual cell with the direct backlight. Combining dual cell with edge-backlighting can provide a slim-type high contrast ratio display, able to compete with OLED.

Because the lamination is on the pixel-to-pixel level, if there is any misalignment, the whole cell will have serious shadow effects. The low production yield rate adds to the high cost. We estimate a dual cell 65” 4K LCD module price will ranging from $650 to $800, which is 2–2.5 times the standard LCD TV module cost. Hisense announced its dual cell LCD TV is $2,500, which is higher than the Samsung’s 65” 4K QLED TV, but still lower than the 65” 4K OLED TV. Meanwhile, the duplicated cell structure will affect the transmittance, and a stronger backlight with larger power consumption will be needed. The LCD TV is also thick due to its dual cell structure.

Pros: mega-zone local dimming, great contrast ratio, HDR

Cons: high cost, low lamination yield rate, big power consumption, thick

  • LCD TV with FALD

FALD is an LCD TV with full array backlight instead of edge-lit backlight. Compared to OLED, the biggest win for FALD displays is performance versus cost. It cannot get the same level of black color depths as OLED. However, with lighting zones that independently dim (as opposed to an edge lit backlight LCD that does not have that function), FALD displays can get a lot closer to those blacks than LCDs can. This results in superior black uniformity, black levels, and better looking HDR content. It also distributes heat better than edge lit LCDs since the lights are all over the back of the screen instead of bundled in one spot (the edge).

Pros: deeper blacks and better black uniformity than LCD thanks to local dimming, better handling of motion blur than LCD, but not as good as OLED

Cons: not common in the consumer TV market, local dimming might cause some halo or blooming effects

  • QLED TV

According to the TV Sets Intelligence Service – Premium, 2.7 million QD LCD TVs and 2.5 million OLED TVs were shipped in 2018. For this year, we are forecasting the QD LCD TV (also known as an LCD TV with QD backlight) will reach 4.9 million units shipped while the OLED TV will reach 3.3 million due to the supply limitation. Samsung electronics has had success with the QLED, especially because it started to combine the QLED with 8K resolution, while WOLED has not yet been combined with 8K. The QD backlight is approximately $100 more expensive than the normal backlight. In the end market, Samsung is selling a 65” 4K LCD TV with QD backlight at $1,800 to $2,000, which is two to three times the price of a normal LCD TV.

Pros: good color gamut

Cons: The contrast ratio and local dimming is not as good as the OLED, mini LED backlight, or dual cell LCD TV. The special QD sheet needs special assembly and reliability process. The supply of the QD film is also limited.

  • LCD TV with mini LED backlight

The mini LED is about 200 µm to 500 µm, and they are used to form the full array to perform the dimming. Depending on the specification and size of the mini LED, the usage of the mini LED can range from 10,000 units to 40,000 units and the dimming zone can range from 500 to 4,000 zones.

The wide range of the mini LEDs and dimming zones give the LCD TV with mini LED backlight the high contrast ratio and HDR performance. The mini size of the LED enables the backlight to be very slim. The flip-chip-on-module (FCOM) is another advantage. FCOM can reduce manufacturing costs as much as the RGBW pixel structure by removing the LED packaging from the light bar.

However, as we analyzed in the [Display Dynamics] BOE develops a micro-LED backlight for high-end large 8K LCD TV displays, there are the following drawbacks of the mini LED or micro LED backlight:

  • Mini-LED reliability and cost are not mature, which might be harmful to supply stability.
  • Because more mini-LED chips are required, power consumption can be higher. For example, a 75-inch 8K×4K LCD TV may need 1,000 direct LED chips as the light source but would need at least 70,000 micro-LED chips, which would consume 1.5 times more power than the direct LED backlight.
  • With so many mini-LED chips on the backside of the panel, heat dissipation will be critical.
  • Color binning might not be a major concern as mini-LEDs for backlight are white and therefore have no color function. However, it may still influence luminance uniformity.
  • The supply of mini LEDs is a concern; the key technology for producing micro LEDs is the transfer method, which is limited by equipment constraints and an immature process. Production TAKT time for a mini LED might be 10 times longer than a direct LED, increasing cost. 

There are no real LCD TV with mini LED backlight products in the end market currently, but we can estimate that the mini LED backlight for a 65” 4K will be as much as $500–1,000 depending on the dimming zones and the numbers of the mini LED. A 65” 4K LCD TV with mini LED backlight is estimated to be $3,000–4,000. This price might be lower than the OLED TV, but there are still many uncertainties as the mini LED backlight is a whole new area and there is no mass production yet.

The following are the pros and cons of the LCD TV with mini LED backlight:

Pros: great contrast ratio, very high brightness with low power consumption, great contrast ratio and HDR through local dimming

Cons: very high cost (possibly higher than OLED), heat dissipation, halo image effect, brightness uniformity

  • OLED TV

Pros:

  • The best contrast, deepest blacks, and best black uniformity
  • No blooming
  • Very slim (there is no backlight) and thinner than LCD or FALD TVs
  • No heat issue (there is no backlight) and generally cooler in temperature than LCD
  • They support the latest tech, including HDR, Dolby Vision, and 4K
  • Exceptional viewing angles
  • No motion blur

Cons:

  • Very high price, a 65” 4K OLED TV is three to four times the cost of an LCD TV
  • Panel supply limited with LG Display only, cost is high
  • OLED is potentially more likely to have burn-in issues than LCD or FALD displays
  • OLED displays can crush dark shadow detail if not properly calibrated
  • Self-missive structure becomes complicated with the higher resolution, 8K OLED might be very expensive due to the production challenge

As the mini LED backlight has not launched yet, and China is an important market for the high-end TV, we have collected the key high-end TV model in China. It is listed below, including the dual cell LCD TV, LCD with FALD backlight, QLED, QLED with 8K, and more.

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Displays
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