The Next Big Thing in TFT Displays

The next big thing in TFTs? It might just be HDMI.

Nothing beats a great smile.”

-Karl Urban

“Nothing beats a sharp looking TFT Display”

-Focus LCDs

TFT (Thin Film Transistor) displays have been around for years and are the single most popular multi-color display technology. TFT displays can be found on anything from TVs, laptops, tablets and older phones. They are also in every industry including aviation, military and medical products. 

They hold on to their popularity because of their low price and long-term availability. No self-respecting OEM engineer wants to design a display into their new product, only to have it go obsolete a few months later. When it happens, buyers and engineers alike use verbiage that would make a sailor blush – and who can blame them?

For years, the TFT interface of choice has been SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface), parallel, RGB and in some cases LVDS. Now HDMI has taken TFTS to a new level of sharpness and ease of programming.

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) is an all-digital bus/interface where data signals are transmitted in a digital format (thinks 0’s and 1’s). The majority of TFTS are not yet available with a HDMI interface, but that is changing. And although they are a bit more expensive, their benefits far outweigh the price.

So, why all this excitement about a new interface?

Advantages of HDMI TFTs

One cable does it all:

All signals are transmitted through a single cable. Gone are the days of one cable for video, one for audio and one for control.

Color and more color:

The HDMI interface can support 10 or 12 or 16-bit RGB (Red, Green, Blue) which translates into more colors. This new interfere far exceeds the 64K color limits of older TFT interfaces. The more unique colors, the more the display stands out. (the better looking the display, the better looking your product will look to your customers).

No need for reboot:

The old days of windows XP (did I spell that correctly?) that required a reboot for every configuration change are gone and this is also true with HDMI equipped TFTS. The display can be plugged into an already operating unit and will instantly fire up.

This screen really looks sharp:

HDMI has a lower ‘loss of transmission’ and provides a sharper or higher quality video. In other words, it has higher resolutions to produce a more outstanding screen. Far superior to older analog or slower cereal serial interfaces.

The days of signal degradation are in the past:

With HDMI, data signals are transmitted as is. Old technologies required conversions which degraded and delayed the signal. No one wants to wait in line for their morning coffee because the coffee show is running slow, and no one wants a poor-quality display due to slow transfer speeds. 

Things to Keep in Mind When Considering HDMI Displays


HDMI’s are more expensive than older SPI, Parallel or RGB technologies. This may not work for higher volume production where price is king. Many industries such as industrial or test and measurement may find it difficult to justify the additional spending. If your customer can live with a mere 64K unique colors, something unheard of a few years ago, then stick with a SPI or RGB interface.

Many industries, such as medical, aviation and other higher end products require this added sharpness.

Keep your display close:

HDMI is limited to 10 meters (9ish feet) for Category 2 cables and up to 35 meters (a bit over 100 feet) for category 1 cables. Most of the time this isn’t an issue since your display is close to where your mother board lives.

HDMI equipped TFTS are stock items with some of the most popular sizes ranging from 2.4 inch and higher.