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Tech Focus: What You Need to Know When Getting an OLED Laptop

We like laptops. Back in our previous Tech Focus post, we talked about how you can benefit from owning a laptop with an SSD as the media storage device. We’re still going to discuss laptops for this issue. This time, though, we’re shifting our attention on the display screen.

After picking the storage, memory, CPU and GPU in a computer, the next feature or spec in line you’d want to look at is the display. When you’re window shopping for a brand new computer, consider getting an OLED laptop.

What is an OLED Laptop?

OLED laptop with sticker on the side of touchpad
Photo by Aaron Yoo via Flickr Creative Commons

A laptop with an OLED display is a computer that uses organic light-emitting diode technology to power up the screen. The tech behind OLED is similar to the conventional LED technology wherein it uses semiconductors to generate light. Instead of chips and transistors, OLED laptops use organic molecules to produce the display.

Laptops that use OLED screens have an edge over computers that use LCD as the primary display. OLEDs self-emissive organic compounds enable each pixel in the panel to generate light on its own when the device supplies electricity to these pixels. As a result, OLED laptops can display deep blacks and extra-brilliant colors.

OLEDs deliver “truer” blacks than other screen technologies found on the mainstream market. When you use an OLED-screen laptop to open an image file that contains nothing but black, the individual pixels display nothing, as no light leakage is present to dilute the darkness. This enables your computer to provide deeper blacks and outstanding contrast.

From TV to Laptop

The OLED screen technology didn’t enter the laptop world right away. Instead, it found its way in modern television sets. Major brands, such as LG, TCL, Sony and Samsung, offered OLED TVs that displayed spectacular colors and excellent picture quality.

Eventually, this display technology entered the mobile phone market. It popped up in high-profile and late-model smartphones, such as Samsung and Apple. OLED, therefore, became available on big and small screens.

As time passed, OLEDs hit desktop and desktop displays. A few reputable manufacturers released laptops with OLED screens. Take note, though, that OLED laptops only began to hit the mainstream market in 2019, despite debuting in early 2016.

The Benefits of Using an OLED Laptop

OLED laptops have several advantages over conventional laptops that use LCD as their main screen. A few of these advantages are:

Potentially Lightweight Laptops

Laptops with OLED screens don’t have an extra backlighting panel. This means that the manufacturer can make the computer lighter and thinner. This is perfect for on-the-go people looking to invest their money in a laptop that’s easy to carry and has a quality screen.

No Lag

Look forward to fast refresh rates when you use a computer with an OLED screen on it. Conventional LCD laptops need an LED panel for backlighting. Unfortunately, this requirement tends to cause motion blur and lag. Since OLED-screen laptops don’t require this backlighting panel, you won’t encounter lag problems. This leads to better viewing angles and refresh rates.

Superior Picture Quality

Laptops with OLED panels can generate lifelike and more vibrant colors along with superior contrast and black levels. The monitor can display a more accurate image to the computer user, as it can turn the individual pixels on and off.

Energy-Efficient Display

Given that OLED laptops can turn off individual pixels, this means that they draw no power. When the laptop you bought has a dark mode option, you can save energy, as it doesn’t require the device to use power to display the color black. This isn’t the case with LCD laptops, as they use power even in dark mode.

OLED vs. AMOLED Laptops

Some computer users and shoppers may confuse active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) with OLED laptops.  Take note that there’s a difference between these two display technologies.

AMOLED is a kind of OLED display device that improves on the existing OLED technology. It introduces a layer of thin film transistor (TFT) that allows better control over the light produced by the OLEDs. This layer offers an improved active matrix light control.

Apart from the TFT, another differentiating factor of AMOLEDs is that they tend to expend less energy than OLEDs. Each pixel in an AMOLED screen has a capacitor and transistor, providing better control of energy consumption.

The next time you shop for an OLED laptop, confirm if the display specification indicates OLED or AMOLED.

Who Should Buy an OLED Laptop?

OLED laptop sample
Source: OLED-info

An OLED-screen laptop is ideal for two types of computer users: gamers and creative professionals, such as post-production editors and graphic designers.

Let’s start with gaming enthusiasts. Casual and hardcore gamers will surely appreciate the eye-popping visuals produced by an OLED gaming laptop. The great refresh rates and superior picture quality positively contribute to the overall gaming experience.

OLED laptops are also suitable for people in the creatives industry. Photo editors and graphic artists can expect their work to look stellar onscreen. Pro-tip: If you’re tech-savvy and know how to calibrate display settings for professional work, you could tune your OLED laptop to produce better results than the standard or default configuration.

You might be asking, “What about the general computer users?” Although OLEDs have many advantages over LCDs, the beauty and benefits come with a price. OLED laptops don’t come cheap.

Computers with this display technology are more expensive than conventional display options.  An article from Laptop Mag reported that an affordable OLED gaming laptop costs $1,299 — and this price is only for a limited time.

If you want a laptop with an OLED display but feel unsure about justifying this purchase, try basing your decision on two things: use and budget. If you want to buy an OLED laptop simply because it makes playing games and watching videos look more awesome, go for it. Whether or not the added expense is worth it is completely up to you and your wallet.

A Look at Some of the OLED Laptops on the Market

laptop with touch screen pad
Source: Laptop Mag

The field for OLED laptops is fairly small as of this writing. The reason is that many popular laptops in 2020 still use LCD as the display technology, including the MacBooks that you see in the Apple stores.

If you’re planning to buy an OLED laptop as a holiday gift for yourself, here are a few options you’ll find on the market:

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga

This oldie-but-goodie second-generation OLED laptop delivers an excellent mix of stunning visuals, utilities and performance. The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga is a 2-in-1 laptop that rocks a stylish and slim design. If you value both OLED and versatility in your purchasing decision, make this laptop your first choice.

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

What makes this OLED laptop brand unique is that it’s Pantone Validated, a certification telling users that the electronic device adheres to the color standards from the Pantone Matching System.

Another unique feature of this laptop is its secondary display. This additional display doubles as a huge touchscreen, making this ideal for multi-tasking. Users can dock a maximum of three different applications in the secondary display for quick view and access.

Samsung Galaxy Book 12

This detachable notebook offers a stunning OLED screen and a highly comfortable keyboard. The sleek design of the Galaxy Book gives off a stylish appearance.

If you like taking down notes, you’re sure to fall in love with this OLED laptop. The Samsung Galaxy Book 12 comes with an S Pen stylus that offers a responsive and sharp writing experience.

When you buy an OLED laptop from a reputable brand, you can look forward to high contrast, deep blacks and excellent color production. However, only a few players in the market right now offer this display technology.

Unlike LCDs, OLEDs are a bit more difficult to manufacture. Although you can expect an awesome display from an OLED laptop, be prepared to shell out money, as this technology comes with a hefty price tag.

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