AUO says it will soon start commercialising MicroLED TV displays

Mike Wheatley

The Taiwanese display maker AU Optronics has said it will start commercialising MicroLED displays by the end of the year, kicking off with smaller screens for smart watches and later moving onto TV and car infotainment displays.


AUO announced its plans during a recent earnings call, when it said it will invest NT$700 million ($21.6 million) into a 6-inch MicroLED production line in Taiwan, in partnership with the MicroLED design firm PlayNitride.

The company said it will begin mass production of MicroLED displays for smart watches before the end of the year, with TVs and vehicle displays to follow, though it didn’t provide an exact timeline for these products.

In addition, AUO told investors it will no longer expand its LCD manufacturing capacity. While it will continue to maintain its existing factories, all future investments will go towards next-generation display technologies, it said.

MicroLED is an emerging display technology that has long been touted by companies such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics as being superior to OLED. It promises to deliver higher brightness and more saturated colours, meaning better HDR pictures. It also comes with no risk of burn-in, unlike OLED, and has superior contrast. MicroLED technology is modular too, and so displays can come in almost any size at up to 16K resolution

The problem with MicroLED as a TV display is that it is incredibly expensive to manufacture. The earliest MicroLED TV models were commercial displays that came in enormous sizes and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Samsung has announced a few consumer models, but these are also very hefty and eye-wateringly expensive.

AUO’s partner PlayNitride has previously exhibited various MicroLED prototypes, including a 1.39 inch circular display for smart watches and a 37-inch panel for TVs. However, despite all of the promises of the technology, the prototypes did not look that great, at least not in the video below:

It’s for this reason that most industry analysts remain very skeptical that AUO’s announcement will prove to be a game-changer for MicroLED TVs.