Plasma displays are all but dead, and as any Maximum PC subscriber knows by now, the quality of LCD monitors can (and do) vary wildly, even among the same manufacturer (see VX2035WM and VLED221WM). Even still, LCDs dominate the PC landscape, and because prices have fallen so far in the past year, LCD televisions are also becoming increasingly commonplace. But there's a new contender on the horizon.
Researchers from Microsoft and the University of Washington talked up a new technology called "telescopic pixels" in this week's Nature Photonics. As the name suggests, the new tech takes advantage of an old concept and finds its roots in the optical telescope. How it works is each individual pixel consists of two opposing mirrors with one changing shape based on applied voltage, and the other reflecting light through a hole on the primary mirror and onto the display screen. Arstechnica has the full technical rundown, but what's most interesting are the several potential upsides over today's pixel technology.
Backlight and Battery Life
If LCD technology has an Achilles' heel, it's with the backlight. Few displays manage to get it just right, with many of them suffering from either washed out black coloring, or a display that's too dark all around. According to the article, telescopic pixel technology looks to improve backlight transmission to 36 percent, with the promise of reaching 56 percent as the technology matures. Should that happen, battery life in laptops could potentially increase by up to 45 minutes without reducing the screen brightness.
Response Time and Contrast
While most LCD displays advertise single digit response times as low as 2ms, telescopic pixel displays look to be as low as 0.625ms, which should come as good news to any hardcore gamer. Where the technology falters is with contrast ratios, where experimental measurements were noted at just 20:1. But the article states that up to 800:1 may be possible, which would make it competitive with LCD technology.
Where telescopic pixels go from here is anyone's guess, so let's hear yours: Are LCDs on their way out?