Sony has unveiled a faster, higher-resolution OLED panel for use as an electronic viewfinder. The 'UXGA' panel gives 1600 x 1200 pixels/5.76M dots of resolution, for those of you who don't still think in terms of 1980s PC monitors. This is a 25% increase in each direction, compared with the panel used in the likes of the Panasonic GH5 and Sony a7R III. Despite the resolution increase, Sony says the panel uses the same amount of power.

The panel can be run either progressively (with one row being shown after another), at 120 fps or in a dual-line progressive mode that we expect to halve the vertical resolution in return for a 240 fps mode to give a more lifelike preview.

A redesigned structure places the color filter array directly on the light-emitting silicon, maintaining the angle of view, despite the move to smaller pixels. Sony says it has also designed a circuit to mitigate some of the voltage and consistency drawbacks of the move to finer pixels.

Unusually, Sony specifies a sample price for the panel: ¥ 50,000 (~$460). We suspect this price will come down once production ramps up, especially for orders of tens or hundreds of thousands of panels, but it hints at the costs of including a high-res viewfinder in a camera, and why the a7 III misses out on the 3.69M-dot display used in the more expensive a7R III.

Sony Releases 0.5-type OLED Microdisplay with Top-of-Class UXGA Resolution, Featuring the World's Smallest Pixel Pitch of 6.3µm

Tokyo, Japan—Sony Corporation today announced the upcoming release of the ECX339A OLED Microdisplay featuring UXGA (1600 x 1200 resolution), the highest in class for a 0.5-type. This product achieves the world's smallest pixel pitch of 6.3μm by leveraging Sony's OLED display technology and miniaturization technology, enabling a resolution 1.6x higher than the previous model*1. By employing a new drive circuit design that operates on half the voltage of the previous model*1, the new product achieves the same level of low-power operation as its predecessor but with much higher resolution. When paired with Sony's original driving system*2, a frame rate up to 240 fps is supported—double that of previous product*1.

0.5-type OLED Microdisplay ECX339A
Model name Sample shipment date Mass-production shipment date (planned) Sample price (excluding tax)
ECX339A 0.5-type OLED Microdisplay January 2018 November 2018 50,000 JPY

Enhancing the resolution on microdisplays has traditionally presented problems such as deteriorating image quality due to decreased pixel pitch and inferior viewing angle properties. The new product features optimized transistors layout and process to address uneven characteristics and loss of withstand voltage, the issues associated with transistor miniaturization. The Sony original variation compensation circuit also enhances picture quality. Additionally, the color filter is deposited directly on the silicon substrate, reducing its distance from the light emitting layer, and the filter's color array has been modified. This helps to secure the viewing angle properties while achieving high resolution.

OLED Microdisplays are widely used in digital camera electronic viewfinders (EVF) for their superior high contrast, high color gamut, and high-speed responsiveness. Sony, having achieved this high resolution and high frame rate, now offers even more realistic image display and accurate capture of subjects for use in high-end cameras that demand extremely high image quality.

Going forward, Sony expects this high-definition OLED Microdisplay to be employed in a diverse range of fields and applications such as AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) head-mounted displays.

Comparison of images on OLED Microdisplays. New product (UXGA, left) and previous product (QVGA, right)

Main Features

  • 1.High-resolution UXGA in a 0.5-type
    The new product has achieved the world's smallest pixel pitch of 6.3μm by leveraging Sony's proprietary OLED display technology and miniaturization technology, and has superior resolution 1.6x higher than the previous model*1. Generally, transistor miniaturization results in characteristic variation and reduced withstand voltage. This product uses a Sony original compensation circuit and optimized layouts and process for each individual transistor to address these adverse effects. Furthermore, the color filter is deposited directly on the silicon substrate, reducing its distance from the light emitting layer, and the filter's color array has been modified to secure the viewing angle properties while achieving high resolution.
Measures to secure viewing angle even with smaller pixel pitch
New product (UXGA, left) and previous product (QVGA, right)
  • 2.High-speed frame rate
    A new drive circuit design supports a high frame rate of up to 240 fps*2, nearly double that of its predecessor*1. This has made it possible to capture fast-moving subjects in the viewfinder with higher accuracy, so users will not miss a photo opportunity, delivering a more comfortable shooting experience. In head-mounted display devices, this will help to improve image delay issue for items superimposed on real-world vision of AR and to avoid motion sickness during usage of these kinds of devices.
  • 3.Low power consumption
    By employing newly-designed peripheral circuits that operate on half the voltage of previous model*1, the new product delivers the same low-power operation as its predecessor when operating at the same frame rate, despite the nearly 1.6x increase in the number of pixels.

Key Specifications

Name ECX339A
Display Size 0.5 type (12.6 mm Diagonal length)
Resolution UXGA(1600×RGB×1200)
Pixel pitch 6.3μm
Max. frame rate 120 fps (progressive) / 240 fps (dual-line progressive)
Power consumption (200cd/m2) 310 mW @ 60 fps (progressive) / 120 fps (dual-line progressive)
Video interface LVDS/Sub-LVDS
Max. luminance 1,000cd/m2
Contrast 100,000:1 or higher
Color gamut (u'v') sRGB ratio: 110%

Footnotes

  • *1 Compared with the Sony OLED Microdisplay ECX337A (0.5-type QVGA (1280x960)).
  • *2 Driving method of dual vertical line simultaneously ("Dual-line progressive" driving technique)