What’s LED Display? What’s the difference in between LED display, MiniLED & MicroLED?


     The LED display was widely used in our daily life, you can see LED display application everywhere, on the road, home appliance, motorcycle … etc.

Beside this LED display, there are some advance technology , For Example, MicroLED ,MiniLED and OLED, that have similar structure.
     Firstly, We will introduce the common type of LED display and it’s characteristic. Secondly, We will clarify the difference in between LED display, OLED , Micro LED and Mini LED. Finally,We will explain the pro and cons between these technology.

The type of LED display

     The DISPLAY means to display the Words, Pictures, it can be classified to 4 types:

  1. Words.
  2. A certain picture.
  3. Limited words +certain pictures.
  4. Any pictures.

The LED display’s characteristic

     The LED display’s structure is sample and can easily meet outdoor requirement in brightness and emitting color by change LED current and LED material. In addition to ,The epoxy-base LED display assembly make it easy to pass the high reliability test to outdoor application.

     The price for standard type LED display is not too high, normally to be used for traffic light, thermal meter display, indicator for home appliance, count down meter…..etc.

▲ LED Display –The 7 segment display’s application on Microwave oven &Water drinker.

     The NRE (Non-recurring engineering Expense) cost for custom display (ex. Special size, height, involve more components, special color…etc.) is much lower than LCD/Mini LED/Micro LED, especially for the irregular shape & size. Reader can see this article about full customization tooling cost for LED display. 

Custom LED display example – Dashboard for Gogoro 2Plus Motorcycle

   Generally speaking, to custom a LED display, Opto Plus requests a US$3,000 – 6,000 tooling cost according to the overall design.

The common type of LED display – 7 Segment display

     The main structure for 7 segment display is 7 segment emitting area & 1 right bottom emitting area.  Therefore, why we call it “7 segment display” or “8 number display” (when all segment light up, it is a 8 number) or even call “numeric display” (display number).
     Most of 7 segment display have a right bottom side emitting area, we call it DP point (Data point).
     Opto Plus LED Corp. defines each emitting segment clockwise from A segment to G segment & DP point.  Please refer to Data Sheet for OPS-S4010SE-GW as below:

▲ OPS-S4010SE-GW : internal circuit structure
▲ OPS-S4010SE-GW : 7 segment display’s appearance and clockwise define A-F segment
▲ OPS-S4010SE-GW : 7 segment display’s appearance and clockwise define A-F segment

     The difference in between Common Anode & Common Cathode is polarity reverse. To design a LED display with a limited current resistor, you can refer to this article “How to design a 7 segment display with limited current resistor? “ .

7-segment display’s digit font and true table

The 7-segment display’s main function is to display numbers 0 – 9.  Please refer to below simulation chart and truth table:

▲ OPS-S4010SE-GW - simulation chart.to light up numbers 0 - 9 and true table (PDF Version)
▲ OPS-S4010SE-GW – simulation chart.to light up numbers 0 – 9 and truth table (PDF Version)

The common type of LED display – Alphanumeric display

     Alphanumeric display is a complicate 7 segment display, specially design to display the numbers 0-9 and the English Letters A-Z.
     Alphanumeric display have similar naming rules in 7 segment display. To perform all English letters in capital & low cases letters, the main emitting segment numbers have 3 kind design (9 segment, 14 segment, 16 segment):

  1. 9 emitting segment – Nine segment display
  2. 14 emitting segment – Fourteen segment display
  3. 16 emitting segment – Sixteen segment display.

     The most popular alphanumeric display is Fourteen segment display.
Same as 7 Segment display, Opto Plus LED Corp. defines each emitting segment by A segment to P segment & DP point.  Please refer to Data Sheet for OPD-AS8020(1)LA-GW  as below:

▲OPD-AS8020(1)LA-GW Alphanumeric display’s appearance & internal circuit structure
OPD-AS8020(1)LA-GW Alphanumeric display’s appearance & internal circuit structure

Alphanumeric Segment Display’s display English letter font and true table

 The Alphanumeric Segment Display’s main function is to display English letters A-Z.  Please refer to following simulation chart for upper-case letter and lower-case English :

▲ OPD-AS8020(1)LA-GW- LED alphanumeric display’s simulation chart To light up English Upper case Letters A-Z
▲ OPD-AS8020(1)LA-GW– LED alphanumeric display’s simulation chart To light up English Upper case Letters A-Z
▲ OPD-AS8020(1)LA-GW - LED alphanumeric display’s simulation chart To light up English Lower case Letters A-Z
▲ OPD-AS8020(1)LA-GW – LED alphanumeric display’s simulation chart To light up English Lower case Letters A-Z
▲ OPD-AS8020(1)LA-GW - LED alphanumeric display’s turth table for  English Lower case Letters A-Z (PDF version)
▲ OPD-AS8020(1)LA-GW – LED alphanumeric display’s truth table for English Lower case Letters A-Z (PDF version)
▲ OPD-AS8020(1)LA-GW- LED alphanumeric display’s turth table for English Upper case Letters A-Z (PDF version)
▲ OPD-AS8020(1)LA-GW– LED alphanumeric display’s truth table for English Upper case Letters A-Z (PDF version)

The common type of LED display – Icon/Bar display

     Use the pictures to display the information is very common application in home appliance products. Moreover, to use light bar to display the rate of progress is very easy & intuition way. The advantage for using pictures & bar can overcome the different languages to be used all the world.
     Below are 2 example products to present Icon (pictures) + Bar + 7 segment display (OPS-V32)  & Light Bar display (OPS-B500LA-UT-GW). The OPS-V32 is a very typical custom display combined with 7 segment + icon (pictures) + Bar for customer display purpose. OPS-B500LA-UT-GW can be connect more than 1 display together to meet customer requirements.



The common type of LED display – Mix-Type Display

     Most of mix type display is customize display to meet customer’s special application – might be very big size, irregular appearance or very small size, or very thin size. 
For example, the Dash Board display like Gogoro 2 Plus is a typical Mix-Type display, this display involves all below function and make the Dash board more fashion, availability, functionality, colorful & activity performance.

  1. Big size, irregular appearance.
  2. Huge 7 Segment to display the Speed of motorcycle.
  3. Function pictures to display direction light, ABS, IOS…etc.
  4. Bar to present battery volume.
  5. RGB color circumstances light.

The common type of LED display – Dot Matrix display

     LED dot matrix is to using the emitting dot to display the pictures or letters (all languages), can be classify to (display limited information) & (display any information), please refer to below introduction:

LED dot matrix display in traffic sign
▲ Traffic sign LED display Example: stop and pass sign

Dot Matrix display – To display limited information

     The most typical application is the numbering indicator for traffic light, this kind of display is just be designed to display limited information.For example, the top light was designed to (only) can display 2 yellow numbers for count down function & the red little men is to prohibit to walk. The bottom light is a Walking Green Little Men when the top light is in count down model.  This is using a mono color LED’s emitting light to perform the dot matrix function to display limited information.  Normally, it is used for big size application, and use DIP/THT LED mono color lamp or SMD LED to perform Dot matrix function.  The cost is lower. 

​Dot matrix display – Can display any information

     Most of mono color or full color moving sign is belong to this type display.Below photos is the LED moving sign structure made by OPD-M58810W-GW.

White color
White color LED dot matrix made by 96pc 5*8 LED dot matrix display OPD-M58810W-GW

     Inside the dot matrix, there are 1 white LED inside the dot, when the LEDs are connected to the right voltage & current, it will emitting white light.For full color moving sign, we need to put 3 chips (Red/Green/Blue LED) inside the dot, and need to be drive separately, then can display full color by mixing color.

 OPD-M58810W-GW LED dot matrix display with RGB Full color LED display 

     Below moving sign is a 32*192 dot mono color dot matrix display, using 96 pieces of 8 x 8 dot matrix display – OPD-M58810W-GW.  After programming, can display 6 kind of languages.

   To perform a complete English letters needs to have a 5 x 7 bit, 3*5 bit, 4 x 6 bit, 7 x 5 bit…etc.
     To perform a complicate Chinese needs to have 16*16 bit or 24*24 bit to 64*64 bit.  As the complicate Chinese is more complicate, so need to use higher bit to perform the letters. 
     Except complicate Chinese & English, LED dot matrix can perform pictures by using Bitmap (dot chart). 

The difference in between LCD display, LED Display, OLED ,Mini-LED & Micro-LED.

There are two mainstream display in the market – LCD display and LED display. Most of TV or Screen made by LCD technology to express complex information. Traditional LED display like 7-segment LED display , dot matrix LED display are widely use in home appliance, dashboard display that display simple information like digit or icon. LED display made by OLED, Mini-LED & Micro-LED technology to express complex information have more advantage than LCD display in brightness and contrast. On the other hand, LCD display’s price were cheaper to these LED display due to a much mature mass production technology.

Typical LCD screen with “Mini led” word

Traditional LED display ,OLED , Mini-LED and Micro-LED were made by similar technology with different scale and color mixing method.

In this article, We try to explain with these two points of view .

Use scale to understand what’s the major difference in Traditional LED display, Mini-LED and Micro-LED.

Basic idea is use single color chips in a area to perform all information & pictures.

Use OPTO PLUS Standard dot matrix LED display OPD-M21610(1)LR-GW as a example to explain the difference between traditional LED display to Mini-LED / Micro-LED display.The dot size for a LED display and the spacing between the dot usually call dot diameter and pitch,For Mini-LED / Micro-LED / LCD display are pixel and pixel pitch. A main difference between LED display , Mini-LED / Micro-LED or LCD display is the size of the dot. For OPD-M21610(1)LR-GW,A the 12 x 12 Dot Matrix LED display present 144 dot with 1.9 (mm) dot diameter and 2.54 (mm) pitch. The OPD-M21610(1)LR-GW outline dimension and light up GIF show as below.

OPD-M21610(1)LR-GW dot matrix LED display Outline dimension,PCB and light up picture.

 As we mention earlier, The difference LED Display and MiniLED/MicroLED major in scale. Following Table and picture show the size difference.

Dot diameter / Pitch
LED Display1.9(mm)
MiniLED500 (um)
MicroLED10 (um)
Typical Dot diameter / Pitch of LED Display / MiniLED /MicroLED
LED display MiniLED MicroLED size difference
OPD-M58810W-GW ,MiniLED & MicroLED size difference.

In order to demo the scale difference between these display, We use arrange three display side by side as following picture to show the size difference.

LED display size compare diagram
Put Traditional LED display(OPD-M58810W-GW),MiniLED & MicroLED side by side to show the scale difference of each other.

The advantage to use MicroLED/ MiniLED/ OLED display to replace LCD display

  1. As small pixel as better to perform high resolution display. So, the MicroLED/ MiniLED/ OLED can perform better resolution than LCD display.
  2. The MicroLED/ MiniLED/ OLED display is self emitting light, but LCD display is using a back light through a conduct light board to perform different colors.  So, the MicroLED/MiniLED can react quickly and the color contrast better than LCD. Is’s hard for a LCD display to achieve TureDark , On the other hand, the self emitting light characteristic for MicroLED/ MiniLED/ OLED make it easy to achieve TureDark and better image quality.
  3. The MicroLED/ MiniLED/ OLED display is more save energy than LCD display.
  4. However, the yield rate for MicroLED & MiniLED is still no good. Hard to be mass production.The price is too high for the market. 


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