To date, we've seen just one AMOLED (active matrix-based organic light-emitting diode) screen in a consumer product. But the latest breakthrough in the little-heralded screen technology suggests iRiver's recent Clix may have been the first of many.

Engineers at Samsung have just started mass producing a 16-million colour AMOLED driver that can control displays of up to 240 x 320 pixels, a size perfect for mobile phones and portable media devices.

Self adjusting and bright

The advantages of AMOLED are twofold - firstly, power consumption is low thanks to the ability of the screens to self-adjust their brightness. This means dark areas stay dark and only those places that need it are illuminated.

Secondly, fast response times made possible by the absence of a backlight make for thin screens that update almost instantaneously, eliminating the motion blur common to most LCD displays.

With video playback and TV tuners proliferating in mobile phones, those are most likely to see the next wave of AMOLED screens, as manufacturers seek to gain an edge over each other.