I wrote a piece not long ago that advocated for higher-refresh rate screens on Chromebooks, and there’s a chance we’re a step closer to that reality than we were before. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this latest news is necessarily intended for Chromebooks, but it is a step closer to seeing that high-refresh reality.
Reported by Ars Technica today, Samsung is apparently readying “very large quantities” of their 14-inch OLED displays for use in laptops this year. For reference, Samsung makes screens for a ton of the electronics you see around you every day, including phones from Apple, Google, Samsung, and OnePlus, so it isn’t odd seeing the company ramping up production for manufacturing outside of itself.
Those displays look absolutely amazing, but the bigger news here is the fact that we’re likely going to see more options across the board for both higher-refresh and OLED in laptop displays. As you likely already know, OLED is easily the best-looking display type you can get. They tend to be a bit more expensive and can be a big hit on battery, but there are ways around this. While OLED is great at conserving battery with darker pixels, those white and lighter-colored spots on your display really pull on the battery as witnessed by the abysmal battery life on the original Samsung Galaxy Chromebook.
However, as Ron Amadeo notes in his article, Samsung figured out battery woes with OLED screens on phones over time, and will likely do so with laptops in time. It is unclear at this time whether or not these latest displays will leverage any new tech to help in this department, so we’ll simply have to wait and see on that front. Based on the video above, however, I’m inclined to feel like Samsung is quite proud of these new panels and is ready to get OLED laptops normalized in the market.
What about Chromebooks?
So, with these large quantities of OLED laptop screens, does that mean we could see our first 90hz OLED Chromebook this year? That’s anyone’s guess, really, but I’m not getting my hopes up just yet. Screen tech tends to roll out on Windows laptops first and then to Chromebooks, so it may take a bit before we see these panels on a Chromebook.
That logic does get upended with the fact that Samsung opted for the 4K OLED panel on the original Galaxy Chromebook a full year ago. At a time when very few OLED laptops existed, we got the Galaxy Chromebook and all of it’s $1000 extravagance. If it could get paired up with a larger battery and some better optimization, there’s no reason one of these panels couldn’t end up in a Chromebook in 2021 to easily become the best panel we’ve seen yet on a laptop running Chrome OS. There’s already built-in support for higher refresh rates, so why not?
At this point, we’ve found no evidence of this being the case, but the exact display panel isn’t always clear when we’re digging in the Chromium Repositories, so that isn’t indicative either way. While I’m hopeful we’ll see a 90hz OLED Chromebook this year, my bet is we’ll see Windows laptops arrive with this screen tech first, the market will normalize a bit around the idea of standard, non-gaming laptops with high refresh rates and OLED screens, and then we’ll start seeing it in Chromebooks. But it’s one step closer either way, right?