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OLED vs. LCD: A Comprehensive Comparison

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What is OLED, and what is LCD?

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) are two prevalent technologies used in display screens today. They form the backbone of contemporary screen technology and are found in everything from mobile phones and tablets to large-screen televisions and computer monitors. However, a debate has emerged in recent years over which is superior: OLED or LCD.

First, let’s take a brief look at how these displays are structured. LCD displays utilize a backlight that shines through liquid crystals to create an image. These crystals control the amount of light that passes through, thereby dictating the color and brightness of the pixels. On the other hand, OLEDs are composed of organic material that emits light when an electric current is applied. Each pixel in an OLED display produces its own light, eliminating the need for a separate backlight.

Contrast Ratio and Black Levels:

When it comes to contrast ratio and black levels, OLED technology outshines LCD. Because each pixel on an OLED screen is independently lit, OLEDs can achieve pure blacks by simply turning off individual pixels. This results in an incredible contrast ratio. In contrast, LCDs, regardless of the backlight technology used, always emit some level of light, even when trying to display black, leading to a lower contrast ratio.

Color Accuracy and Saturation:

Both OLED and LCD can deliver impressive color accuracy and saturation. However, OLEDs typically have a slight edge in this department due to their ability to control light emission at the pixel level. This precise control results in more vibrant colors and deeper blacks. Nevertheless, advancements in LCD technology, particularly in Quantum Dot LCDs (QLEDs), have allowed these displays to come close to matching the color performance of OLEDs.

Viewing Angles:

Viewing angles are another important aspect of display quality. This refers to the range of angles from which the screen can be viewed without degradation of image quality. OLED screens have almost perfect viewing angles because each pixel emits its own light. LCDs, however, can suffer from reduced color accuracy and contrast when viewed from acute angles.

Lifespan and Burn-In:

However, LCD displays do have an advantage over OLEDs when it comes to lifespan and burn-in. The organic materials in OLED displays can degrade over time, reducing the lifespan of the screen. Moreover, if static images are displayed for extended periods, OLED screens can suffer from burn-in, where ghost images are permanently imprinted on the screen. LCD screens, not relying on organic materials, are less susceptible to these issues.

Energy Efficiency:

Energy efficiency is another area where LCDs tend to excel. LCD displays generally consume less power than OLEDs when displaying bright images or white backgrounds. However, the tables turn when dark or black images are on the screen as OLEDs consume less power since they can turn off individual pixels.

When comparing OLED and LCD, it’s clear that each has its own strengths and weaknesses. OLED displays provide superior contrast ratios, better color accuracy, and almost perfect viewing angles. However, they can be more susceptible to burn-in, and their lifespan might be shorter than that of LCDs. LCDs, meanwhile, have improved their color performance and are generally more energy-efficient with bright images, with a longer lifespan and less susceptibility to burn-in.

Ultimately, the choice between OLED and LCD depends on the specific use-case and individual preferences. For those seeking the best possible picture quality and aren’t concerned with lifespan or burn-in, OLED may be the better choice. For users looking for a balance between performance, energy efficiency, and durability, an LCD could be the better option.


OLED TVs are well-regarded for their superior color accuracy, deep blacks, and nearly perfect viewing angles. The self-emissive nature of OLEDs allows them to achieve superior contrast ratios, essentially reaching “infinite” contrast. Additionally, OLEDs offer faster refresh rates, resulting in smoother motion, an essential quality for watching fast-paced action or sports broadcasts. However, OLED TVs are typically more expensive than LED TVs. There’s also the potential for burn-in over time, especially if static images are displayed for extended periods.

LED TVs, essentially LCD TVs with LED backlights, are generally more affordable and can reach higher brightness levels than OLEDs. They are also less susceptible to burn-in and have a longer overall lifespan. The main drawbacks are inferior contrast ratios, less accurate color reproduction (especially compared to premium OLEDs), and narrower viewing angles.

Computer Monitors: OLED vs. LCD:

For computer monitors, OLED displays provide excellent color reproduction, quick response times, and high contrast ratios. They’re ideal for graphic designers, photographers, and video editors who require accurate color representation. However, the static interface elements (like the taskbar and window borders) can lead to burn-in over time. Additionally, OLED monitors are generally more expensive than their LCD counterparts.

LCD monitors, especially those using LED backlighting, have made considerable strides in performance. They offer decent color accuracy, are much less prone to burn-in, and are typically more affordable. High-end LCD monitors also offer features like high refresh rates and adaptive sync technologies, making them popular for gaming. However, they can’t match OLEDs in terms of contrast ratio and black levels.

Home Appliances, Industrial, Military, Marine, and Medical Devices:

In home appliances and industrial devices, LCD displays have traditionally been the preferred choice, primarily due to their lower cost and longer lifespan. Their performance in various lighting conditions and resistance to burn-in makes them suitable for appliances that often display static images.

For military, marine, and medical applications, the choice between OLED and LCD may depend more on specific requirements. OLED displays, with their wide viewing angles and high contrast ratios, can be advantageous in situations that require quick, clear image interpretation. However, in high-brightness environments or situations that demand longevity and durability, LCDs might be preferred.

In the medical field, the superb color accuracy and contrast of OLEDs can be beneficial for accurately interpreting medical images. However, high-end medical monitors often employ specialized LCD technology that can match or exceed the performance of typical commercial OLED displays, albeit at a higher price point.

Ultimately, the decision between OLED and LCD for any given application should consider the unique requirements and constraints of that application. Factors such as cost, viewing angles, color accuracy, brightness, lifespan, and susceptibility to burn-in can all influence the optimal choice.

Here are the key points from the comparison between OLED and LCD, and their specific applications in TVs, computer monitors, and other devices.


  • Composition: OLED displays consist of self-lit pixels, while LCD displays use a backlight shining through liquid crystals to create an image.
  • Contrast Ratio and Black Levels: OLED displays achieve superior contrast ratios and true blacks, while LCDs always emit some light, even when displaying black.
  • Color Accuracy and Saturation: Both OLED and LCD can offer impressive color accuracy and saturation, but OLEDs generally have the edge.
  • Viewing Angles: OLED screens provide almost perfect viewing angles, while LCDs can suffer color accuracy and contrast reduction when viewed from sharp angles.
  • Lifespan and Burn-In: LCD displays have a longer lifespan and are less susceptible to burn-in compared to OLEDs.
  • Energy Efficiency: LCD displays are generally more energy-efficient when displaying bright images, while OLEDs are more efficient with dark or black images.


  • OLED TVs: Offer superior color accuracy, deep blacks, perfect viewing angles, and faster refresh rates but are typically more expensive and susceptible to burn-in.
  • LED TVs: More affordable, can achieve higher brightness levels, less prone to burn-in, and have a longer lifespan, but can’t match the color accuracy and contrast ratios of OLED TVs.

Computer Monitors: OLED vs. LCD:

  • OLED Monitors: Excellent color reproduction, quick response times, and high contrast ratios but more expensive and prone to burn-in from static interface elements.
  • LCD Monitors: Decent color accuracy, less prone to burn-in, generally more affordable, and often include high refresh rates and adaptive sync technologies popular for gaming.

Home Appliances, Industrial, Military, Marine, and Medical Devices:

  • LCD Displays: Preferred for home appliances and industrial devices due to lower costs, longer lifespan, and resistance to burn-in.
  • OLED Displays: Beneficial for military, marine, and medical applications that require quick, clear image interpretation, thanks to their wide viewing angles and high contrast ratios.
  • High-end Medical Monitors: Often employ specialized LCD technology that can match or exceed the performance of typical commercial OLED displays.

Below there is a table that outlines some of the most important parameters of OLED and LCD displays and their typical values. Please note that these values can vary significantly depending on the specific model and manufacturer of the display.

Contrast RatioInfinite (due to true blacks)Varies, typically around 1000:1 to 5000:1
Color GamutWide, can cover nearly 100% DCI-P3Wide, but usually less than OLED
Viewing AngleAlmost 180 degreesReduces color accuracy at acute angles
Response TimeLess than 1msVaries, typically 1ms to 5ms
LifespanShorter, varies based on usageLonger, can be over 100,000 hours
Risk of Burn-InYes, especially with static imagesNo
BrightnessVaries, can be less than high-end LCD displaysHigh, particularly with LED backlighting
Energy EfficiencyMore efficient with dark imagesMore efficient with bright or white images
CostTypically higherTypically lower

Please note that the actual performance of any given display will depend on a wide range of factors, including the specific technology employed (for example, different types of OLED or LCD technology), the quality of the manufacturing process, and the settings used on the device.

Designing or refreshing electronic devices with OLED or LED displays

Designing home appliances or industrial devices with displays requires careful consideration of several factors. Here are some pieces of advice for electronic engineers and designers in these fields:

  1. Understand User Needs: Spend time understanding the user’s needs and the context in which the device will be used. This includes the environment (indoor or outdoor, bright, or dim lighting conditions), frequency of use, and common use cases.
  2. Prioritize Readability: Given that home appliances and industrial devices are often used in various lighting conditions, prioritize displays that can be easily read in both dim and brightly lit environments. LCD displays with LED backlights often excel in this regard.
  3. Opt for Durability: Industrial devices are often subject to harsh conditions, including potential impact, dust, moisture, and temperature extremes. Consider opting for robust and durable display technologies that can withstand these conditions.
  4. Consider Burn-In Risks: For devices that display static images for long periods of time (like clocks, timers, or certain readings), LCDs may be a better choice due to their lower susceptibility to burn-in compared to OLEDs.
  5. Think Energy Efficiency: Power consumption is a critical factor, especially for battery-powered devices. Depending on the display content, either LCD or OLED can be more energy efficient. LCDs usually consume less power when displaying bright or white content, while OLEDs are more efficient for darker content.
  6. Ensure User-Friendly Interfaces: Prioritize user experience in your design. This involves not only the visual display but also the user interface. Make sure buttons, icons, and text are clear and intuitive.
  7. Keep Cost in Mind: Finally, cost is always a factor. While you might want the best performing display, it’s crucial to balance performance and cost. LCDs are typically more cost-effective than OLEDs and can still provide excellent performance for most home appliances and industrial devices.
  8. Futureproof Your Design: Design your devices with future upgrades in mind. If possible, make the display module easily replaceable to accommodate potential future advancements in display technology.

Each project and device will have unique requirements and constraints, and it’s important to make informed decisions based on these factors.

When considering designing or refreshing electronic devices with OLED or LED displays, there are several factors electronic engineers should consider:

  • Use Case: Understand the primary application of the device. If the device is meant for high-end media consumption, like a premium smartphone, TV, or a professional-grade monitor, an OLED might be the better choice due to its superior color accuracy and contrast. However, if the device is designed for general use, where the priority is cost-effectiveness and longevity, LCD displays might be more appropriate.
  • Static Images: Consider the nature of the content that will be displayed. If the device will frequently display static images or have fixed on-screen elements for extended periods, there’s a risk of burn-in with OLED displays. An LCD might be a better choice in this scenario.
  • Brightness and Viewing Conditions: If the device will be used frequently in bright conditions or outdoors, LCD displays can often reach higher brightness levels than OLEDs and may perform better.
  • Viewing Angles: For devices that need wide viewing angles without losing color accuracy or contrast, such as collaborative displays or certain medical devices, OLEDs would be the superior choice.
  • Energy Efficiency: If power consumption is a significant concern, the choice can depend on the content that will be predominantly displayed. OLEDs can be more power-efficient for devices that primarily display dark content, while LCDs might be more efficient for devices with predominantly bright content.
  • Device Lifespan: If the intended lifespan of the device is long and continuous operation is needed, the potentially shorter lifespan of OLED displays should be considered. LCD displays are generally more durable and have a longer lifespan.
  • Budget Constraints: Budget should also be considered. If cost is a critical factor, LCD displays are typically more affordable than OLEDs.

Overall, there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” display technology. Electronic engineers should consider the unique requirements and constraints of the specific device they are designing to determine the most suitable display type.

Why Riverdi?

Riverdi is European Manufacturer that specializes in providing innovative portfolio of TFT display solutions designed to cater to unique business needs. Riverdi catalog of products which is segmented into various categories, each crafted to meet specific business needs, based on the same unified sizes from 3.5-inch to 10.1-inch. These displays are designed to be user-friendly and adaptable, boasting features like built-in controllers and touch panels. They are customizable, catering to various industries and applications such as IoT, medical, military, industrial, and many more.

All Riverdi displays, across the different categories, are based on the same high brightness up to 1000 cd/m2 IPS matrix. This ensures excellent image quality and a wide viewing angle, enhancing the visual experience for the end-users. The IPS technology in Riverdi displays guarantees vibrant colors, deep blacks, and exceptional contrast ratios, regardless of the viewing angle. These high-brightness displays are designed to offer great readability, even in high ambient light conditions, making them ideal for both indoor and outdoor applications.

In addition, Riverdi displays utilize industrial-grade touch controllers. These controllers ensure reliable, precise touch response, which is a critical factor in today’s interactive applications. Whether it’s resistive or capacitive touch technology, these touch controllers deliver high performance and robust operation, even in harsh industrial environments.

With Riverdi, you can count on having a display solution that not only meets but exceeds your expectations in terms of image quality, touch responsiveness, and durability. Here’s a little more detail about each product group:

  • STM32 Embedded Displays: Our STM32 series of displays leverage the power of STMicroelectronics’ STM32 microcontrollers. They offer an embedded solution that is not only reliable but also packed with features. With a range of sizes and touch panel options available, these are highly versatile and customizable for your application.
  • RGB/LVDS/MIPI DSI LCD Displays: This series features advanced display solutions with RGB, LVDS, and MIPI DSI interfaces. These high-quality LCD displays offer superior image quality and are designed for sophisticated applications that require higher resolution and vivid color reproduction.
  • EVE4 Intelligent Displays: Our intelligent displays come with built-in Bridgetek EVE4 graphic controllers, offering ease of integration with any host microcontroller or processor. They offer a range of interface options, including UART, SPI, and I2C, as well as a choice between resistive and capacitive touch panels. These are ideal for an array of applications, including IoT, industrial control, and more.
  • HDMI Displays: These are high-definition displays that offer superior resolution for a crisp and clear visual experience. They come with a HDMI interface, ensuring high-quality video output and are compatible with any equipment with a HDMI port.
  • Customized Solutions: Understanding that off-the-shelf products may not always meet unique project requirements, we provide custom solutions that can be tailored to suit your specific needs. This could include custom touch panels, bespoke screen sizes, or specific communication interfaces.

Riverdi also provides a variety of evaluation boards to help engineers and designers test and streamline your development process. These boards are compatible with our display modules, enabling you to evaluate the functions and features of our products before integration into your final design.

Each of our product groups is designed to provide top-tier quality, ease of use, and scalability for your projects. We invite you to explore these categories in depth on our website.

To ensure that Riverdi products are as useful and functional as possible, we also offer additional features, here are just a few:

  • TouchGFX Library: Riverdi STM32 Embedded Displays come with the support for the TouchGFX library. TouchGFX is a high-end software framework created by STMicroelectronics which enables high-performance graphics on embedded systems, leveraging the capabilities of STM32 hardware. It’s designed to provide beautiful and smooth animations and transitions, ensuring your interfaces are visually stunning and user-friendly.
  • LVGL Library: Riverdi displays also support the LittlevGL (LVGL) open-source graphics library, perfect for embedded systems with limited resources. It’s designed to help you create visually appealing and easy-to-use graphical interfaces on any hardware that has a pixel-based display and an input device. It offers a variety of widgets with extensive customization options and is memory efficient.
  • RiBUS Connector: The Riverdi RiBUS connector allows for fast and easy connection between Riverdi displays and your development system. It’s designed to make your display integration as straightforward as possible, saving you time during the development process and making the setup more robust and reliable.

These features are part of Riverdi commitment to providing versatile, high-quality display solutions that can be easily integrated into your unique projects. Riverdi continuously strives to incorporate leading technologies and tools into our products, ensuring that they provide exceptional performance and adaptability.

Frequently Asked Questions: OLED vs LCD

Q: What is the primary difference between OLED and LCD displays?

A: The primary difference lies in how they create and emit light. OLED displays consist of pixels that emit their own light, whereas LCD displays use a backlight to shine through liquid crystals to produce an image.

Q: Which has a better contrast ratio, OLED or LCD?

A: OLED displays typically have a superior contrast ratio because they can achieve true black by turning off individual pixels.

Q: What about color accuracy and saturation?

A: Both OLED and LCD can offer impressive color accuracy and saturation. However, due to the ability to control light emission at the pixel level, OLEDs generally have a slight advantage.

Q: Which display technology is more susceptible to burn-in?

A: OLED displays are more susceptible to burn-in, especially when static images are displayed for extended periods.

Q: Which one consumes more energy, OLED or LCD?

A: It depends on the content displayed. LCD displays are generally more energy-efficient with bright or white images, while OLEDs are more efficient when displaying dark or black images.

Q: What’s the lifespan of OLED and LCD displays?

A: LCD displays generally have a longer lifespan due to their inorganic components. The organic materials in OLED displays can degrade over time, reducing the screen’s lifespan.

Q: Which display type is more cost-effective?

A: LCDs are typically more affordable than OLEDs. However, the overall cost-effectiveness can depend on specific use-cases and individual requirements.

Q: Which one is better for TVs and computer monitors?

A: Both OLED and LCD have their advantages. OLED TVs and monitors provide superior picture quality but are more expensive and can be prone to burn-in. LCD TVs and monitors, on the other hand, have improved color performance, are generally more affordable, and are less susceptible to burn-in.

Q: Which is preferred for home appliances, industrial devices, military, marine, and medical devices?

A: LCD displays have been the traditional choice for home appliances and industrial devices due to their lower cost and resistance to burn-in. For military, marine, and medical applications, the decision could depend on the specific requirements of the situation.