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An Essential Guide To Low Power Display Technology

August 4, 2021

Low power display technologies have made rapid strides in the electronics sector in recent years. As a result, nowadays, there are choices to make for people considering low-power display technologies, each having its own pros and cons. The choice of display is highly dependent on the intended application, whether the application is for portable electronics, consumer electronics, or industrial purposes. In this article, we will discuss the most prevalent low-power display technologies, consider the pros and cons of each.

So, what is a low-power display?

A low-power display is a display that draws the lowest power possible. It is specifically designed to consume low levels of energy. These displays rely on technologies that allow the device to operate using minimal power inputs. 

In recent times, there is a growing demand for low-power displays in order to lessen the stress on the environment. Another reason is customers needing wireless products without big power cables or the need for frequent charging. A low-power display is perfect when you try to improve the product's hours of battery life by drawing the least amount of power possible. A device that uses less power to function is also cheaper to run.

what is a low power display

Types of low power display technology

Different applications use different types of displays. The most popular low power display technologies available on the market are as follows:

LCDs were the only choice for low power until the arrival of two exciting options into the display market - E-ink display and Electrochromic display. This article will discuss these three low-power display technologies in brief and compare different features like power consumption, display quality, and more.

Reflective LCDs

Reflective LCDs are prevalent in consumer electronics because of their low power consumption, ease of production, and cost-effectiveness. Low power seven segment display is widely used in calculators, digital clocks, radios, microwave ovens, and washing machines. It works by reflecting ambient light - such as natural light - from a reflective layer back to the viewer.

Reflective LCDs

Features:

  • Reflective LCD is most suitable for high-frequency switching i.e. if the display switches more than 600 times in a day.
  • The cost of the reflected LCD is very low.
  • These displays are not flexible enough to bend.
  • Most reflective LCDs have viewing angle dependency. It is difficult even to read some displays when observed from a 30° angle or more.
  • The typical operating temperature range of reflective LCDs is -40 °C to +85 °C.
  • These displays are extremely robust and have a very long lifetime.
  • The display is difficult to view in low-light conditions.

E-paper

Electronic paper is a display technology having a paper-like ultra contrast appearance that replicates the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. This display technology is popular because of its contrast, readability, thickness, low power consumption, and flexibility. It is widely used in e-readers like Amazon's Kindle, real-time bus arrival information, electronic shelf label (ESL) segment, menu boards, etc. When the display is electrically charged, charged ink particles rise to the top of the display to create images.

Electronic paper

Features:

  • The e-paper displays are bistable, meaning they only need energy when there is a change in display. E Ink display is the most suitable choice for low-frequency switching, i.e. if the display switches no more than four times in a day.
  • E-paper displays are ten times more expensive than both reflective LCD and electrochromic displays in terms of display cost.
  • E-paper displays have almost no viewing angle dependency.
  • For most e-paper displays, the operating temperature ranges from 0 °C to 50 °C.
  • The lifetime of e-paper displays is between 1 - 10 million display updates.

Electrochromic Display

An electrochromic display is the best low-power display technology in the market today. These ultra-low-power displays are lightweight, thin, energy-efficient, and cost-effective to produce and operate. They can also be bendable, meaning that they are easily customizable to individual business needs. As a result, these displays are widely used in logistics monitoring, consumer electronics, medical devices, smart cards, and more. Like the LCD, it works by reflecting ambient light. Using electrochromism, when a voltage is applied, the display will change color.

Electrochromic display - best low-power display technology

Features:

  • Electrochromic displays are semi-bistable, meaning they hold an image but for a lesser time than the e-paper display. 
  • The electrochromic display is the most suitable choice for medium-frequency switching, i.e. if the display switches between 4-600 times a day.
  • In terms of display cost, electrochromic displays are among the cheapest technologies both to operate and produce - as they can be produced cheaply using roll-to-roll screen printing.
  • The design is highly customizable, allowing for a range of design options, including different sizes, shapes, and forms, and it can also easily incorporate a graphic overlay.
  • Of all the three technologies, only electrochromic displays are bendable. If you need a flexible display then, electrochromic displays are the best option for you.
  • Just like E-paper displays, these displays also have almost no viewing angle dependency.
  • Electrochromic displays can operate between -20 °C to 80 °C, making them suitable for extreme temperatures.

To explore in further detail, see here where we compare the power consumption of reflective display vs. E-paper vs. electrochromic display.

Try Out Low-Power Electrochromic Displays For Yourself

At Ynvisible, we offer a full end-to-end solution for prototyping and producing low-power display solutions for a wide range of unique applications. To explore how low-power electrochromic display could work for your design ideas, why not get started with our segment display kit to see how it all works.


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