Samsung has released details of a prototype laptop based on AMOLED (active matrix organic light-emitting diode), the technology expected to feature in the next generation of computer displays.
On the face of it, the demonstration laptop’s 12 inch AMOLED display, which can run up to a resolution of 1280x768, is much the same as on any other laptop, but a closer look reveals features that make today’s designs look stone age by comparison.
AMOLEDs don’t require back-lighting, which means they can not only be wafer thin, which saves on weight, but consumer a fraction of the power of a conventional LCD. They also achieve this while being claimed to be much brighter, having better contrast levels, and with a greater angle of view – LCDs fade when viewed from oblique angles.
They are perfect for laptops, and even totally new applications such as building electronic images in unexpected places such as in passports, but they do have one large drawback that will take time to conquer. At the size required for a laptop screen – 12 inches and up - they cost the earth.
In fact, AMOLEDs are already used on a few high-end digital cameras and mobile phones, but at much smaller screen sizes. Samsung has said it expects the price to fall to comparable levels to today’s LCDs by 2010, but that’s only a prediction from one vendor.
AMOLEDs are, technically, a sub-variant of competing OLED designs, based on an active matrix design, which Samsung claims make them suitable for larger screen sizes. Larger OLEDs have already found their way into high-end flatscreen television sets and been touted for e-paper. Samsung’s SDI division is currently the largest backer of AMOLED technology.
So the next generation of laptops could make Apple’s Macbook Air look overweight if Samsung’s concept laptop is really the shape of the future. But, as ever, cost will dictate how quickly this comes to pass.
The Samsung concept also ditches the old button keyboard in favour of a touch-based equivalent, reducing weight to levels that could finally the idea of portable computing ubiquitous.