Why are character LCDs still so popular?

Why not use a bright colored TFT for every new design? They look good. Because, for many non-consumer products, 64 million unique colors with video and capacitive touch screen capability is a waste of money and development cost. Many times, a single-color module displaying only letters and numbers is enough. And that is a very large reason why character LCD are so popular.

More isn’t always better, Linus. Sometimes it’s just more.


Below are four reasons why many OEMs/Design houses still favor a simple, monochrome character module to OLEDs.

One: Low probability of discontinuance

When the first sentence from your supplier include the words: Sorry, didn’t see that coming, you know your next few weeks of time will be wasted invested in finding a second source.

Your company invested the money to develop a new product and then after just a few months in production – BAM, your LCD is discontinued and you’re back to starting the whole, stupid qualification process over again. (Arrrrr)

Character LCDs have a very low probability of reaching End-of-Life because they contain a minimum number of components that are readily available from a surplus of suppliers located all around the world.

So, if a tsunami hits one area, suppliers in ten other regions of the world are still in full production to keep your character LCDs coming.

Two: Low Cost

Character displays have very few components: PCBs, Glass, Aluminum bezels and a Driver. All very common, very low-cost parts, allowing some displays to be built in the three-dollar range.

Unlike OLEDs, there is a surplus of Character display manufacturers to easily absorb any sudden upswing in demand.

Three: Quick and easy to program

Character displays contain a controller/driver with built in character table for quick programing from an almost limitless supply of freeware sources. No need to address and refresh each segment/pixel.

Four: Standard stock item

Some things will always be available because they are in high demand: Gold, Coffee and Character LCDs. Having availability on demand is another large reason why Character LCDs are popular.

The form, fit, and function of character modules hasn’t changed in several years and won’t. They will continue to hold the same dimensions and pinouts. This allows Focus to hold a large selection of uncommitted inventory in our Chandler, AZ warehouse for same day shipping.

Just say NO to: Long-Lead times, Obsolesce. Weak coffee.

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