An electronic visual display, informally a screen, is a display device for presentation of images, text, or video transmitted electronically, without producing a permanent record. Electronic visual displays include television sets, computer monitors, and digital signage. By the above definition, an overhead projector (along with screen onto which the text, images, or video is projected) could reasonably be considered an electronic visual display since it is a display device for the presentation of an images, plain text, or video transmitted electronically without producing a permanent record. They are also ubiquitous in mobile computing applications like tablet computers, smartphones, and information appliances.
These are the technologies used to create the various displays in use today.
Additionally, Cathode-ray tubes were widely used in the past and microLED displays are under development.
Electronic visual displays present visual information according to the electrical input signal (analog or digital) either by emitting light (then they are called active displays) or, alternatively, by modulating available light during the process of reflection or transmission (light modulators are called passive displays).
|Electronic visual displays|
|Active displays||Passive displays|
|present visual information by emitting light||present visual information by modulating light|
|Principle||Liquid crystal display (LCD) + backlight
(this combination is considered an active display)
|Example||LCD TV screen, LCD computer monitor||LCD watch (reflective)|
see LCD classification
also see Electronic paper
|Example||Cathode ray tube (CRT)
Field emission display (FED)
Vacuum fluorescent display (VFD)
Surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED)
|Research & manufacturing:|
|Example||(thin or thick film) electro-luminescence (EL)
(inorganic or organic) light emitting diode (LED, OLED)
gas discharge display (Nixie tube)
|Research & manufacturing:|
|Example||Plasma display panel (PDP)||Research & manufacturing:|
|Example||Numitron, a 7-segment numerical display tube||flap display|
digital micromirror device (DMD)
Interferometric modulator display (IMOD)
Electronic visual displays can be observed directly (direct view display) or the displayed information can be projected to a screen (transmissive or reflective screen). This usually happens with smaller displays at a certain magnification.
|Display modes of observation|
|Direct view display||Projection display|
|transmissive mode of operation||front-projection (with reflective screen)|
e.g. video projector
|reflective mode of operation||rear-projection (with transmissive screen)|
e.g. rear projection television screen
|transflective mode of operation
(e.g. transflective LCD)
|retinal projection (with or without combiner)|
e.g. head mounted display
A different kind of projection display is the class of "laser projection displays", where the image is built up sequentially either via line by line scanning or by writing one complete column at a time. For that purpose one beam is formed from three lasers operating at the primary colors, and this beam is scanned electro-mechanically (galvanometer scanner, micro-mirror array)) or electro-acousto-optically.
Depending on the shape and on the arrangement of the picture elements of a display, either fixed information can be displayed (symbols, signs), simple numerals (7-segment layout) or arbitrary shapes can be formed (dot-matrix displays).
|Layout of picture elements|
characters, numbers and symbols of fixed shape (may be multiplex addressed)
The following layouts are well known:
sub-pixels are arranged in a regular 2-dimensional array
(multiplex addressing required); arbitrary shapes can be formed and displayed
Colors can be generated by selective emission, by selective absorption, transmission or by selective reflection.
|Color emission and control|
primary colors add up to produce white light
filters, dyes, pigments (e.g.printing) subtract (absorb) parts of white light
|temporal mixing (additive)
e.g. rotating primary color filter wheel in projectors
|spatial mixing (additive)|
closely spaced sub-pixels
|spatio temporal color mixing|
combined spatial and temporal mixing
|arrangement of sub-pixels
for additive color mixing
see sub-pixel arrangements 1
see sub-pixel arrangements 2
see sub-pixel arrangements 3
|subtractive color mixing does not require special sub-pixel arrangements|
all components (e.g. filters) have to be in the same path of light.
PenTile arrangement, e.g. RGB+White
Each sub-pixel of a display device must be selected (addressed) in order to be energized in a controlled way.
|Addressing modes (selection of picture elements)|
each individual picture element has electrical connections to the driving electronics.
several picture elements have common electrical connections to the driving electronics,
e. g.. row and column electrodes when the picture elements are arranged in a two dimensional matrix.
|active matrix addressing
active electronic elements added in order to improve selection of picture elements.
|passive matrix addressing|
the nonlinearity of the display effect (e.g. LCD, LED)is used to realize the addressing of individual pixels in multiplex addressing. In this mode only a quite limited number of lines can be addressed. In the case of (STN-)LCDs this maximum is at ~240, but at the expense of a considerable reduction of contrast.
|The matrix of active electronic elements can used in transmissive mode of operation (high transmittance required) or a non-transparent active matrix can be used for reflective LCDs (e.g. liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS)).||
|Driving modes (activation of picture elements)|
activation of pixels by voltage (e.g. LCD field effects). If the current is low enough this mode may be the basis for displays with very low power requirements (e.g. μW for LCDs without backlight).
activation of pixels by electric current (e.g. LED).