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STN LCDs require less power and are less expensive to manufacture than TFT LCDs, another popular type of LCD that has largely superseded STN for mainstream laptops. STN displays typically suffer from lower image quality and slower response time than TFT displays. However, STN LCDs can be made purely reflective for viewing under direct sunlight.

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The best known application of thin-film transistors is in TFT LCDs, an implementation of LCD technology. Transistors are embedded within the panel itself, reducing crosstalk between pixels and improving image stability. The most beneficial aspect of TFT technology is its use of a separate transistor for each pixel on the display. Because each transistor is small, the amount of charge needed to control it is also small. This allows for very fast re-drawing of the display.

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An OLED display works without a backlight. Thus, it can display deep black levels and can be thinner and lighter than a liquid crystal display (LCD). In low ambient light conditions such as a dark room an OLED screen can achieve a higher contrast ratio than an LCD, whether the LCD uses cold cathode fluorescent lamps or LED backlight.

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