Your next tablet or smartphone could have one of these futuristic displays

May 30, 2013

Futuristic mobile screens caught plenty of attention at the Society of Information Display's recent event in Vancouver. 

The annual Display Week conference traditionally has focused on larger screen devices, but mobile had a big impact this time.  

From unbreakable smartphone displays and hi-resolution tablets to large e-Ink screens, TabTimes runs down the most exciting mobile display prototypes to emerge from the show.

Flexible & unbreakable smartphone displays

Imagine being able to contort your smartphone so that it could fit in your pocket, or leaving it on the side and knowing that it wouldn’t break if it fell from a table. That would be pretty cool, right?

LG certainly thinks so and it took the wraps off a 5-inch bendy and unbreakable OLED display at the tech conference. The display is made from plastic substrates, which are more flexible and cheaper to manufacture than glass substrates. LG is so confident about the display’s durability that it invited attendees to smash a hammer against the smartphone display at the show.

Samsung is no slouch in this area either and is reportedly working on flexible tablet screens that have their own in-built stand.

Pixel rich 7-inch tablets

When it comes to tablets, display innovation has largely been restricted to 9.7-inch (iPad) and 10-inch models (like the Nexus 10), with 7-inch versions left out of the picture.

Granted, Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD tablet has an impressive 1440 x 900 IPS display (243 pixels per inch) but that will be nothing if LG brings its latest prototype to market – a 7-inch Full HD resolution with over 300 pixels per inch (ppi). For some context, that’s a better pixel density than offered by the Retina Display on the iPad (264ppi).

This will be good news for the plethora of Android vendors hoping to stay in the low-end 7-inch tablet space, especially with Apple reportedly set to launch an iPad mini with Retina Display later this year.

13-inch and above Ultrabooks with super high resolutions

You may be wowed by the ability of your hybrid Windows 8 Ultrabook to convert into a tablet, but the next wow factor could be coming soon – a display with a better resolution than Full HD.

That could well be the case with future devices from Samsung. The company teased a 3200 x 1800 resolution panel for 13-inch displays at the conference, which is better than the Retina MacBook Pro (2560 x 1600) and Samsung Series 9 prototype (2560 x 1400).

Furthermore, the company says that a reduction in the number of driver circuits and more efficient LED backlight units should give the display a “30% power saving” compared to existing LCDs.

LG also showed a Quad HD (2560 x 1440 resolution) for 14-inch laptops.

Borderless phones

Today’s smartphones have much slimmer bezels than they did even three years ago, but they could virtually disappear if LG’s latest prototype — based on its Oxide TFT technology — comes to fruition.

The Korean firm’s next generation of TFT LCD screens are expected to have bezels that are just 1mm thick, something LG says will enable “borderless smartphones that are lightweight and emit significantly less heat”.

Super light (and large) eReaders

Sony heavily promoted its 13.3-inch e-Ink prototype at the Canadian show, an interesting concept which appears to bear some similarity with the displays used on the Boogie Board RIP and on the rugged Earl tablet.

Sony’s prototype weighs just 60g, matches the size of a sheet of A4 paper and boasts an on-board digitizer so you can scrawl notes on an electromagnetic induction touchscreen.

Although unlikely to come to mainstream media tablets in the foreseeable future, such technology would be a boon for Chinese and Indian tablet vendors looking to tap the low-end education market.

And… low-power smart watches?

Remember Qualcomm’s Mirasol – the ultra-low power display technology?

Well, the chipmaker looks like its returning to work on such technology despite having distanced itself from commercialization of the MEMS-based systems almost a year ago.

The firm has reportedly struggled to also bring the technology to larger screen sizes like phones and tablets, which may be the reason why company representatives told sources that the tech could appear in small-screen devices (roughly 1.5-inches) later this year.

This could, of course, time quick nicely with the plans of Apple and Microsoft to launch their own smart watches.

That said, Engadget reports that the firm did also demo an incredible 5.1-inch Mirasol display which had a staggering resolution of 2560 x 1440 (577 pixels per inch).

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