Two Is Better Than One: LG Starts Production of 13-inch Tandem OLED Display for Laptops

OLED panels have a number of advantages, including deep blacks, fast response times, and energy efficiency; most of these stemming from the fact that they do not need backlighting. However they also have drawbacks, as well, as trying to drive them to be as bright as a high-tier LCD will quickly wear out the organic material used. Researchers have been spending the past couple of decades developing ways to prolong the lifespans of OLED materials, and recently LG has put together a novel (if brute force) solution: halve the work by doubling the number of pixels. This is the basis of the company’s new tandem OLED technology, which has recently gone into mass production.

The Tandem OLED technology introduced by LG Display uses two stacks of red, green, and blue (RGB) organic light-emitting layers, which are layered on top fo each other, essentially reducing how bright each layer needs to individually be in order to hit a specific cumulative brightness. By combining multiple OLED pixels running at a lower brightness, tandem OLED displays are intended to offer higher brightness and durability than traditional single panel OLED displays, reducing the wear on the organic materials in normal situations – and by extension, making it possible to crank up the brightness of the panels well beyond what a single panel could sustain without cooking itself. Overall, LG claims that tandem panels can hit over three-times the brightness of standard OLED panels.

The switch to tandem panels also comes with energy efficiency benefits, as the power consumption of OLED pixels is not linear with the output brightness.  According to LG, their tandem panels consume up to 40% less power. More interesting from the manufacturing side of matters, LG’s tandem panel stack is 40% thinner (and 28%) lighter than existing OLED laptop screens, despite having to get a whole second layer of pixels in there.

In terms of specifications, the 13-inch tandem OLED panel feature a WQXGA+ (2880×1800) resolution and can cover 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. The panel is also certified to meet VESA’s Display HDR True Black 500 requirements, which among other things, requires that it can hit 500 nits of brightness. And given that this tech is meant to go into tablets and laptops, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the display panel is also touch sensitive, as well.

“We will continue to strengthen the competitiveness of OLED products for IT applications and offer differentiated customer value based on distinctive strengths of Tandem OLED, such as long life, high brightness, and low power consumption,” said Jae-Won Jang, Vice President and Head of the Medium Display Product Planning Division at LG Display.

Without any doubts, LG’s Tandem OLED display panel looks impressive. The company is banking on it doing well in the high-end laptop and tablet markets, where manufacturers have been somewhat hesitant to embrace OLED displays due to power concerns. The technology has already been adopted by Apple for their most recent iPad Pro tablets, and now LG is making it available to a wider group of OEMs.

What remains to be seen is the technology’s cost. Computer-grade OLED panels are already a more expensive  option, and this one ups the ante with two layers of OLED pixels. So it isn’t a question of whether it will be reserved for premium, high-margin devices, but a matter of just how much it will add to the final price tag.

For now, LG Display does not disclose which PC OEMs are set to use its 13-inch Tandem OLED panel, though as the company is a supplier to virtually all of the PC OEMs, there’s little doubt it should crop up in multiple laptops soon enough.