Nanosys QDEF impressions: It makes an LCD screen as bright and vivid as AMOLED

Color quality and brightness has always been a big deal, but with the growing popularity of new screen technologies like AMOLED and Apple’s “retina display,” all manufacturers of tablets, smartphones, computers, and TVs are scrambling to get their hands on the best screen technology available. Unfortunately, OLED and AMOLED can be quite expensive to implement. This is where Nanosys comes in. Using a  new screen technology called QDEF (which can be added to any LCD screen) the company has created screens that can produce 3 times more color than they can today for a price that’s low, and possibly cost neutral for electronics makers. 

The screenshots above were taken from two live iPads. The iPad on the left has been equipped with a Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF) and the iPad on the right has not. This is the only difference between them, but it’s painfully easy to see which one is more colorful. These pictures show the difference, but in real life, the QDEF screen almost looked brighter and more colorful than an AMOLED screen. I was impressed when I saw the demonstration.

Here’s how it works: The quality of color you get out of any LCD screen depends entirely on how well the color filters in that screen display in each pixel. Color filters in standard LCD monitors today project light in a wide spectrum of color. This wide spectrum includes the color you want that pixel to be, but Nanosys claims that a lot of unwanted colors are in there as well. As the three colors inside each pixel are mixed together to help make the picture you see on your screen, those extra unwanted colors are muddying up your image, making the color less accurate. This is where Quantum dots come in. These dots are able to project light at the exact color frequency you need, eliminating the excess, unwanted color. And so the picture you see looks more vivid and accurate. 

Confused? The science isn’t really all that important. Today’s LCD screens are only able to display about 35 percent of the visible color stream, or the amount of color our eyes can pick up. Remember those old, bulky CRT monitors you used to have before the thin LCD screens came out? Those were better at displaying color, reaching 50 percent of the visual color spectrum. QDEF is a step up from that, increasing color performance to 65 percent of the visual spectrum. 

Sadly, QDEF isn’t something you can just add to your iPad. It has to be integrated into a tablet (or phone or whatever) during manufacturing. It’s a great idea and we can’t wait to see it full integrated into phones, tablets, computers, and TVs soon. To learn more about QDEF, check out this explanation on the Nanosys Web site