What is the Mini LED? TV display technology explained

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(Pocket-lint) – LG, Samsung and Philips are among the brands to adopt Mini LED technology for future televisions. There are also rumors that Apple will also use the technology for future models of iPad Pro and MacBook. But what is the Mini LED and what advantages could it bring to future televisions and screens?

Is it different from the MicroLED TV technology also used by Samsung?

We explain everything to you here.

What is the Mini LED?

Like MicroLED, the term “Mini LED” or “Mini-LED” has appeared a lot lately. However, unlike this technology, “Mini LED” is about the backlight rather than the pixels of a screen.

It uses tens of thousands of miniature LED bulbs that sit behind the LCD substrate in a display. They combine with local dimming areas to provide more precise lighting in bright areas and better black levels in darker areas of an image.

The difference between the Mini LED and other direct backlight technologies is that, because each LED is much smaller, the lighting bleeds less (i.e. when light impinges on adjacent pixels) and areas. local gradations can be smaller and more precise.

Usually LED TVs either adopt larger LEDs behind the LCD substrate (and therefore prone to light bleeding and less accurate) or are edge-lit – where the LEDs are housed around the edge of the screen and glow. through the panel. It is much more difficult to achieve depth, involving black levels with each type of lighting, often resulting in a gray tone in darker areas. And black levels have a direct impact on the accurate representation of colors in standard and HDR images.

Mini LED panels are closer to OLED in black levels. And, an additional benefit is that the brightness can be greater.

How does Mini LED display technology work?

As we explain above, the Mini LED backlight sits behind the LCD substrate in a panel (and any other substrate included to enhance colors or image quality) and houses thousands of tiny LEDs that are lit. or off depending on the image. They are generally grouped into responsiveness zones, to perfectly synchronize the backlighting to the main image.

LG

So the TV turns them on and off in these local dimming areas, which operate at a refresh rate similar to that of the LCD substrate. When an area is turned off or barely lit, the area on the screen will appear darker or even completely black. When enabled, this area of ​​the screen will be brighter. The brightness of the LEDs depends on the color and what is required of the action on the screen.

LG’s QNED 2021 Mini LED TVs, for example, use up to 30,000 Mini LEDs in nearly 2,500 local dimming “blocks” (on its 86-inch 8K flagship) as the backlight.

This, LG claims, provides a contrast ratio of 1 million to 1. And, while not as accurate as self-lighting technologies, such as OLED, which can turn every pixel on and off. you want it is as close as possible with the LCD screen.

Is the Mini LED the same as the MicroLED?

Mini LED and MicroLED are two very different TV technologies. MicroLED, also used by Samsung for its The Wall TV system, is a technology that features self-illuminating pixels – much like OLED – where each pixel can turn on or off depending on the picture.

The mini LED still requires an LCD pixel substrate. A Mini LED TV is therefore cheaper to manufacture and this means that its price is much more attractive.

What is the main advantage of the Mini LED?

The main advantage of Mini LED over conventional LED TVs (which also use LED backlighting with an LCD panel) is that LED backlights are so much smaller that they can be much more precise and therefore ensure that pictures are more vivid in color, deeper in black levels, and brighter for HDR.

Mini LED TVs won’t be as precise as OLEDs, but much closer to existing LED sets and with the secondary benefit of being more affordable than the best OLED TVs.

Plus, as good as a recent OLED TV is, the technology is still prone to image retention – even permanent screen burn in the most extreme cases. Mini LED TVs are not.

When can I buy a Mini LED TV or screen?

Mini LED technology has been in development for several years, but is only really reaching the mass market now.

LG is offering 10 mini LED TVs this year in different screen sizes, 4K and 8K pixel resolutions.

Samsung is also presenting a collection of Mini LED TVs in 2021, with its Neo QLED 4K and 8K range. And Philips has two models on sale in 2021.

TCL is another company to adopt Mini LED for their televisions. It already has a range, like the 2020 6 Series Packages, while new models will arrive soon too.

And, rumors suggest that Apple is considering the technology for future MacBook and iPad displays, and Nintendo could use a Mini LED display in the next Switch.

Written by Rik Henderson. Editing by Chris Hall. Originally published on .

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