OLED is great, but where are all the mini-LED laptops?

Woman using laptop in hammock on the beach.

Woman using laptop in hammock on the beach.
Enlarge / Working outside is not that easy on an OLED laptop with limited brightness.

Maria Korneeva/Getty

If I could have any type of display panel in my laptop it would be Mini LED.

Sure, OLED is best at producing deep blacks and high contrast, but mini-LED is a powerful replacement. The potential to bloom is still there, but it’s no big deal on a small laptop screen. Meanwhile, there’s no risk of burn-in, and I’d probably get better full-screen brightness if I wanted to take my laptop outside. Also, the battery life of mini LED screens is superior to that of OLED panels.

For the things I do most often on my laptop—working on Word documents and spreadsheets, reading, editing photos, and streaming videos—the highest contrast ratio isn’t essential. I would settle for second best if it meant different wins.

But among consumer laptops, Mini LED is mostly nowhere to be found. They’ll have to turn to pricier GPU-equipped machines aimed at creative workers or PC gamers. Premium laptops that rely on discrete graphics cards, like the Dell XPS, Lenovo Yoga, and HP Specter series, all offer OLED in top-tier SKUs, LCD-LED in lower-priced SKUs, and no mini-LED in between.

Why is it virtually impossible to find a prosumer mini LED laptop even when mini LED desktop monitors are getting cheaper? We reached out to laptop OEMs to find out.

economies of scale

Unsurprisingly, the main reason companies aren’t making the mini LED laptops of my dreams is that they wouldn’t be as profitable as OLED devices. OLED PC monitors and TVs remain more expensive than mini-LED alternatives, but economies of scale mean OLED laptop panels are cheaper to source and come in a better selection than mini-LED screens.

When I asked Dell about the lack of mini-LED in its XPS line, a rep told me the company chose OLED over mini-LED because it had the “best picture quality,” but the rep also pointed to the economics there:

At the moment, the economics allow for a wider choice of panels with OLED, while the choice of mini-LED panels is currently relatively small. We’re watching technology trends, but for now you’ll see more OLEDs across our portfolio.

Acer has some of the most affordable OLED laptops out there; The Swift 3 is priced at $900 as of this writing. The vendor has demoted Mini LED to “high-end gaming” and uses OLED for “premium products designed for consumers and/or prosumers who want a high-end system” because “component diversification helps.” to streamline inventory allocation,” a spokesman said.

“Mini-LED is more expensive because it lacks the economies of scale that OLED has since it’s a more mature technology,” Acer’s representative said, noting that the biggest obstacle the company faced in adopting mini- LED laptops looks, the price is.

chicken or egg

However, mini LED laptop panel prices will not come down until demand grows enough to justify an increase in production, availability, and choice. OLED is now widely used in electronics, with the technology popping up in smartphones, TVs, smartwatches, consoles like the Nintendo Switch, and even PC peripherals (mini-LEDs have also found their way into keyboards). OLED is also a household name with more mainstream demand than mini-LED. All of this makes for a classic chicken-or-egg situation.

Acer’s rep said that “both OLED and Mini LED produce TV-class quality images with excellent color accuracy and contrast ratios,” but the company has noted that people looking for “high-end gaming” laptops are looking for, “less cost-sensitive and more specification-oriented.” Acer also said that brightness is a key factor for such users, noting the superior brightness potential of mini-LED compared to OLED. The company told me that it has a “similar “We’re seeing demand for Mini-LED laptops from developers, prosumers, and small and medium-sized businesses. Creators and gamers aren’t the only users who can benefit from Mini LED’s improved contrast and brightness, but these tech-savvy demographics are.” those who are most aware of the benefits of Mini LED.

Lenovo has found that the biggest barrier to mini LED laptop adoption is “education.” A spokesman for Asus, which makes mini LED gaming laptops, agreed that “consumers and media” need to experience and support the technology to increase its adoption in laptops. “Customers usually get their panel education from the TV market, and mini-LED is not that widespread in home theater today,” a Lenovo spokesman said.

Lenovo is launching its first mini LED laptops in May. It pushes the Slim Pro 9i series as powerful creator machines with RTX 40-series laptop GPUs, Intel H-series CPUs, and a starting price of $1,700.

#OLED #great #miniLED #laptops

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