The Steam Deck is a technological wonder that brings affordable and powerful gaming on-the-go. There is a lot of good that comes from the device, but it does have its flaws. One of the most apparent, and my personal biggest flaw, is not using an OLED screen for the Deck.
Compared to the LCD screen the Deck uses, OLED has a much higher color contrast, which means we would see more vibrant and have better black levels than LCD. Instead of using a backlight for the entire screen like LCDs use, each pixel on an OLED screen provides its own light, allowing each pixel to adjust accordingly instead of depending on a single light source. There are pros and cons to both types of screens, but OLED performs admirably and produces a much more appealing image.
A small example of LCD vs OLED screen differences when it comes to color and darker blacks.
While I had a feeling that Valve knew about this technology and would look into applying it, it's nice seeing an official statement about it from someone who works on the Steam Deck at Valve! PCGamer spoke to Valve engineer Pierre-Loup Griffais about this and while acknowledging the limitations of the LCD screen, it isn't an easy plug-and-play for an OLED.
When talking about swapping out the screen, Griffais goes a little bit deeper into the reasoning why it wouldn't be so simple:
I think people are looking at things like an incremental version and assume that it's an easy drop-in, but in reality, the screen's at the core of the device. Everything is anchored to it. Basically everything is architected around everything when you're talking about a device that small. I think it would be a bigger amount of work than people are assuming it would be. […] I don't think we're discounting anything. But the idea that you could just swap in a new screen and be done—it would need more than that to be doable."Pierre-Loup Griffais
After this, he mentions that while it's something they need to plan, OLED isn't a dealbreaker to be put in a Steam Deck, it's just about design:
[...] But there's nothing about LCD vs OLED, different screen technologies that makes that a dealbreaker. It's about how you're designing the whole system, and what's in between the screen and the SOC (system-on-a-chip).Pierre-Loup Griffais
My takeaway from this is a more positive one though. It shows that Valve has acknowledged OLED technology and seems to be thinking about it logically on how it could be implemented. Personally, I would love to see a Steam Deck with OLED tech implemented, but until then, I will just have to use VibrantDeck to satisfy my vibrant cravings!
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