SID’s 50th Anniversary – Then & Now

This past weekend marked a milestone for the electronic display industry, the 50th anniversary of the Society for Information Display (SID) which was celebrated at its birthplace, Boelter Hall at UCLA.  SID is the preeminent organization serving the display industry, sponsoring symposiums for display technology and display business.  Several of those early contributors have passed away in recent years.  Looking back 50 years, the industry was still using Nixie tubes and was only developing commercial CRT displays.  I have a clear memory of my early days at Xerox R&D as a co-op student more than 40 years ago, asking my boss what the ideal display would look like.  With only a moment’s thought he pointed to a memo on his desk and said that it would look just like this – paper, but would be instantly reconfigurable.

While displays have come a long way they still do not look as good as paper.  Even though paper doesn’t emit one photon of light, nobody ever says that it doesn’t look bright enough or colorful enough or flexible enough or thin enough or low power enough or sufficiently viewable from all angles.  One has to wonder if in 50 years we will yet have a display with the attributes of paper.

I could never have imagined in those early years  that anyone would ever complain that a display was too colorful.  Yet, that is exactly the conclusion of Ray Soniera of DisplayMate.  He says that the display in the Galaxy S3 is too colorful because it has a color gamut in excess of sRGB, a standard that was historically picked for studio monitors. The iPhone5 has an LCD that very closely matches sRGB, so presumably that make this better that the Galaxy S3 that has a gamut that is ~105% of 1953 NTSC

On the other hand, every TV showroom is filled with TVs that strive for 1953 NTSC color gamut, a gamut that is 41% larger than sRGB.  It was correctly noted by some bloggers that if one offered a TV with only sRGB consumers comparing TVs would be very unlikely to pick the sRGB model for their TV.  You need to be a judge of this attribute for yourself.  While sRGB has been the gamut standard for web content, smartphones are increasingly displaying video, where the standard has been NTSC.  There are those who now expect their smartphone to be able to display both video and web content with the color of the most demanding application.

At this link you can see a comparison of both NTSC and sRGB


When I have demonstrated my Galaxy S3, those people that I have polled have been very impressed with the color and the contrast.  None have said it has gaudy colors.

Ray also comments that the Galaxy S3 needs to be brighter.  On this point I might agree.  If you want to use the S3 in full sunlight it is difficult to compete with an LCD that is also partially transflective.  It takes considerable brightness to compete with the sun.  That said it is largely due to PenTile technology that the S3 display is as bright as it is.  Brightness correlates to current density.  Lifetime is affected by current density.  Thanks to PenTile which reduced current density, the S3 is still viewable in rather bright environments.

Neither the Galaxy S3 nor the iPhone 5 display are yet up to the standards of paper, but I must say that both of these displays have come a long way from where this industry began only 50 years ago.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>