Sharp’s IGZO Display

sharp-logoDisplay technology continues its move forward with Sharp’s new technology, Indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO). IGZO is a project that Sharp has been working on for a while now and it looks like Sharp will soon bring a finished to the market. They did show off IGZO at CES in January, but at the time, I did not get too excited with what I read about their screen technology; the next big steps in display technology seemed to take too long to come to market for the average consumer. Although still expensive, Sharp’s screens actually are being adopted by other companies faster then I realized. Admittedly, I did not read too much about the displays at the time of CES or before that time but their forward movement is worth noticing. Fujitsu is coming out with a laptop that uses the technology; Asus is has a IGZO monitor in their lineup; and several phones will use the technology are just a few examples of companies that are taking advantage of Sharp’s new display technology

What is so good about IGZO? This new display technology replaces the amorphous silicon used in the current displays. In the displays we use now, the silicon layer creates the pixels in the display requiring a backlight that shines through the layer and producing the image. By using IGZO to make the pixels, the layer is more transparent making it easier for the light in the display to come through that layer, saving power needed for the lighting. I have read claims of 20 to 40 percent energy savings on the backlight alone. I have also seen percentages around 90. With this energy savings, Fujitsu claims eleven-hour battery life out of their new 15-inch laptop.

 While all of this sounds great, I would like to see some corroborative data from a third party before I begin the celebration. But even if partly true, the new display stands to make a huge difference in mobile technology. Since the screen is the biggest component of power usage on a mobile device, Sharp’s new technology should not only help save on battery life, but also, the technology is more sensitive to the touch. Both of these factors will help the user to have a more enjoyable experience by extending the mobile phones battery life and having the touch be more sensitive. Anything that will help make the battery last longer and help me use the phone more efficiently will make me happier.

Beyond the energy savings, IGZO technology can pack more pixels into the display’s real estate, bringing sharper images. This advantage is the most exciting part of the technology to me. By way of contrast, a IGZO screen will have 498-ppi verses iPhone 5 326-ppi. The green side of me appreciates the power savings that this technology will bring. The power saving is exciting, especially if they are as good as they claim. But the sharper image is what really excites. Also, IGZO will probably incorporate other technology into the display, for example organic light-emitting diode (OLED). I may have to wait a little while for the prices to come down but the prospect of improved picture quality will make it difficult to hold off to get my hands on this technology when it becomes available.

 All in all, since companies are employing this technology and placing it on the market, it will be cheap enough to get in the hands of the average consumer faster than some of the other technologies we hear about. IGZO will come with power efficiency and better picture quality. Everyone can get excited about that.