New tablet computers from Samsung Electronics Co are to feature screens that are richer in color than standard LCDs.
The screens, known as AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) screens, are already found in smartphones made by Samsung and a few other manufacturers, but until now, tablets have not used them because larger AMOLED screens are more difficult to produce.
Samsung is trying to change that with its upcoming line of Android tablets, called the Galaxy Tab S. On Thursday, Samsung announced two such models, with screens of 8.4 inches and 10.5 inches, as measured diagonally.
The tablets are to start selling in the US next month at US$400 for the smaller model and US$500 for the larger one — the same as comparable iPads. Models with fourth-generation long-term evolution cellular access are expected later in the year.
Samsung is the world’s second-largest maker of tablets, behind Apple Inc and its trend-setting iPads. In recent years, Samsung has been gaining market share — at Apple’s expense — by offering a wide range of sizes and quality.
Earlier this year, it unveiled a “Pro” brand aimed at professionals. The Tab brand has been used on Samsung’s budget tablets, which do not come with a stylus as Samsung’s “Note” tablets do. With the new screens, Samsung is elevating the Tab line to become its flagship tablet.
Besides producing richer colors, AMOLED allows tablets to be thinner and use less power, because the screens typically do not require backlighting.
However, IHS analyst Sweta Dash said the performance gap between AMOLED screens and regular LCDs has narrowed, while AMOLED screens can cost 10 to 30 percent more to make.
Samsung does have the advantage of making its own screens, and the South Korean company can afford to reduce profit margins on tablets, if that boosts volume and reduces costs on the screen-production business. What it learns from making tablet screens might even help it one day make affordable AMOLED televisions.
Apple markets its displays as “Retina” and does not believe more pixels will necessarily be discernible to the eye. Apple is expected to refresh its iPad lineup this autumn.
Until now, iPad rivals have succeeded largely by undercutting Apple on price, and better hardware has not been enough, said Rhoda Alexander, director of tablet and monitor research at IHS.
AMOLED screens could change that, she said, because colors will pop out when compared side-by-side at a Walmart or a Best Buy.
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