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A liquid-crystal display (LCD) is a flat-panel display or other electronically modulated optical device that uses the light-modulating properties of liquid crystals combined with polarizers. Liquid crystals do not emit light directly but instead use a backlight or reflector to produce images in color or monochrome. LCDs are available to display arbitrary images (as in a general-purpose computer display) or fixed images with low information content, which can be displayed or hidden. For instance: preset words, digits, and seven-segment displays, as in a digital clock, are all good examples of devices with these displays. They use the same basic technology, except that arbitrary images are made from a matrix of small pixels, while other displays have larger elements. LCDs can either be normally on (positive) or off (negative), depending on the polarizer arrangement. For example, a character positive LCD with a backlight will have black lettering on a background that is the color of the backlight, and a character negative LCD will have a black background with the letters being of the same color as the backlight. Optical filters are added to white on blue LCDs to give them their characteristic appearance.
LCDs are used in a wide range of applications, including LCD televisions, computer monitors, instrument panels, aircraft cockpit displays, and indoor and outdoor signage. Small LCD screens are common in LCD projectors and portable consumer devices such as digital cameras, watches, calculators, and mobile telephones, including smartphones. LCD screens have replaced heavy, bulky and less energy-efficient cathode-ray tube (CRT) displays in nearly all applications. The phosphors used in CRTs make them vulnerable to image burn-in when a static image is displayed on a screen for a long time, e.g., the table frame for an airline flight schedule on an indoor sign. LCDs do not have this weakness, but are still susceptible to image persistence.
LCDs are themselves slowly being replaced by OLED displays, which can easily be made into different shapes, have a lower response time, wider color gamut, virtually infinite color contrast and viewing angles, lower weight for a given size, a slimmer profile and potentially lower power consumption. OLED displays, however, are more expensive for a given display size. An attempt to maintain the competitiveness of LCDs is the quantum dot display.