Screen breakthroughs promise clearer pictures

White LED backlights promise, ironically, darker blacks onscreen.

Pop into the Flat Panel Display International show in Yokohama, Japan, next week and you'll get an eyeful of three new LCDs from Samsung that will probably start showing up in laptop computers sometime next year.

The first two are standard LCD panels that offer 16:9 screen ratios in either 16 inches or 18.4 inches. Samsung points out that the 16:10 ratio that is actually found on most widescreen notebooks isn't really true widescreen. Moreover, the new panels deliver up to 90 per cent colour saturation, which is as good as a decent LCD telly.

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Given all that, the Korean company respectfully suggests that we might get "114 per cent better screen efficiency" with its new displays and who are we to argue with them?

Slightly more newsworthy is a new LCD that derives its backlighting from white LEDs. The 15.4-inch display not only consumes 40 per cent less power than screens lit with normal, coloured LEDs, but it also has a far higher contrast ratio - 10,000:1 in this case.

Deeper black

White LED backlighting facilitates this massive contrast improvement (even the new 16:9 panels manage only 800:1) because it illuminates only the parts of the screen that actually need it - dark areas have their lighting turned off altogether.

The 16:9 displays will go into production in the first half of 2008, while the white LED screen will come onstream during the second part of the year.

J Mark Lytle was an International Editor for TechRadar, based out of Tokyo, who now works as a Script Editor, Consultant at NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Writer, multi-platform journalist, all-round editorial and PR consultant with many years' experience as a professional writer, their bylines include CNN, Snap Media and IDG.