Super LCD, Explained

Everything is super these days. Super AMOLED. Super IPS. Super PVA. And now Super LCD. So is Super LCD really super?

Super LCD is manufactured by Sony Mobile Display (SMD). SMD has focused on low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) TFT LCDs, but with the partial acquisition of Seiko Epson’s Epson Imaging Devices (EID), SMD has incorporated amorphous silicon (a-Si) TFT LCD technology, which is easier and cheaper to manufacture. Super LCD sports SMD’s VSPEC III wide-viewing angle technology (branded as Vistarich) combined with a new LCD driver that leads to a contrast ratio of 800:1 and 160/160 viewing angles (>100:1 CR). Color gamut is a claimed 100% sRGB. Sony reports that optical characteristics are equivalent to organic EL displays, or OLEDs. Super LCD also features lower power consumption, low EMI, and Windows-On technology. That last bit eliminates the air gap between the panel and the glass cover resulting in less surface reflectance. Lower power consumption is the result of a higher aperture ratio and better light transmittance.

Here’s the text associated with the diagram above:

  • Existing structure: A large reflection loss occurs due to the air gap between the window and the LCD module. (Surface reflectivity: 12%)
  • Window-On structure: The air gap is eliminated by applying the window directly to the LCD module, greatly reducing reflection losses. (Surface reflectivity: 12% is reduced to 4%)

Apple has incorporated a similar technology by optically laminating the top-level cover glass to the LCD itself to remove the air gap in the iPhone 4’s Retina Display. The overall effects are positive: the display is closer and looks better thanks to lower screen reflectance. There is also another very real benefit in that no dust will get stuck and mar the beautiful display.

Supported pixel formats on the new Sony-developed LCD driver are 640×360, 480×320, 640×480, and 800×480. The interface is called FlatLink 3G and is a high-speed serial link. The LCD driver sports automatic backlight brightness and control functions.

Samsung has chosen to closely guard the Super AMOLED displays being manufactured by Samsung Mobile Display (SMD) and use nearly all of them for its own branded smartphones. The result has been a shortage for other manufacturers like HTC, who has replaced some of its smartphones with Super LCD instead.

Super LCD can be considered a close second to IPS. Although viewing angles are stated as 160/160 Sony is using a more strict rule that requires the contrast ratio at angles to be at least 100:1. Most LCD viewing angle specs are stated with a minimum contrast ratio of 10:1, so the Super LCD most likely has viewing angles that are just as wide as IPS. On the other hand, the threshold pixel format of 800×480 is lower than what is used in the iPhone 4: 960×640, so IPS is already ahead in its ability to pack more pixels into the same amount of space. The 800:1 contrast is equal to the stated contrast of the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, but tests have resulted in contrast of 1000:1 or more.

Infosync:

When it comes to the actual viewing experience, the Super LCD technology should produce an experience worthy of a high-end smartphone. It can’t match Samsung’s new Super AMOLED technology on an isolated technological level, but that’s also the case with the iPhone 4’s IPS LCD screen.

There has been a lot of debate as to which is the best display. Super LCD, IPS, Super AMOLED all have pros and cons but when it comes to color fidelity or accuracy on smartphones using these displays IPS and Super LCD come out ahead. Sunlight readability? LCD technology comes out ahead of OLED, even the super variety. The one area that OLED technology spanks any LCD, including IPS and Super LCD, is in black levels: OLED displays are as black as black can be.