Mini LED is at the forefront of this year’s display technologies. And as Apple launched its latest iPad Pro with a Mini LED display, most people are still unaware of what it actually is. So, let us try to understand what exactly it is.
Simply put, it’s a more efficient, and more effective way of backlighting an LCD screen. This means it relates more to backlighting technology rather than a display’s pixels. There are tens of thousands of miniature LED backlights behind the LCD panel to offer superior local dimming characteristics. These small LED diodes are also responsible to make images look brighter and natural. Here, the diode which is no bigger than 0.2mm is considered a mini LED.
How mini-LED differs from LCD or OLED?
To clarify its difference, let’s first define LCDs and OLEDs:
LCD primarily uses a single backlight that throws the light on the screen. Furthermore, the panel uses a thin film called the LCD matrix to handle the contrast. The matrix selectively blocks certain parts of the backlight to produce contrast on the individual pixels.
Due to a single backlight, the pixels that require white color and the pixels that require black color end up getting the same amount of light which prevents dark pixel from showing the true pitch-black color. This is called backlight bleeding.
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On the contrary, OLED displays have per-pixel lighting, which means each pixel has control of its lighting and regulates itself as required. This allows the screen to have granular control over which pixels get to be darker and which one gets to be lighter. For instance, for completely dark content, the parallel pixel stays completely turned off. This gives it that punchy black goodness.
So, how do they differ?
Now consider that the single backlight in the LCD panel is divided into different parts (or zones in technical terms). The technology where the backlight is divided into multiple zones is known as “local dimming” and is a common feature in premium LCD.
Furthermore, thanks to technological innovations, LED diodes used in the LCD backlight have shrunk in size. This mini size allows the backlight to be split into a higher proportion of local dimming zones.
While a standard LCD monitor with local dimming can have dozens or hundreds of backlight zones to increase contrast, a mini-LED display can have tens of thousands of them. This ensures that pictures are bolder in color, deeper in black levels, and brighter in terms of HDR content.
In other words, mini-LED displays mimic the emissive nature of OLED but are implemented in LCD panels. It’s a kind of mixed strategy. Note that, these miniature LED panels won’t be as good as OLED ones but are ultimately better than the regular LCD screens.
Overall, mini-LED aims to offer the best of both worlds as it tries to offer the contrast of OLED panels while being relatively cheaper. Add to that the ease of manufacturing mini-LED panels, they can be used to construct small displays including those used on notebooks, tablets, and smartphones.
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