Sony Plans To Release OLED TV Display In December - InformationWeek

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Sony Plans To Release OLED TV Display In December

If Sony releases the XEL-1 on time, the company would become the first consumer electronics company to offer an organic light-emitting diode TV.

Sony on Monday said it plans to launch on Dec. 1 in Japan a next-generation high-definition TV that has superior picture quality to today's LCD and plasma screens and is much thinner.

If Sony releases the XEL-1 on time, the company would become the first consumer electronics company to offer an organic light-emitting diode TV (OLED TV). Rivals Toshiba and Panasonic are working jointly on OLED TVs, but are still in the research and development stage. Samsung Electronics in May unveiled a prototype of a 40-inch set.

Sony in a statement issued in Tokyo said it began mass production of the XEL-1 in September. The company has been selling OLED panels for mobile phones since 2004. The first TV to go on sale in Japan will be an 11-inch model with a screen 3 millimeters thick, The Wall Street Journal reported. The set would cost about $1,700.

OLED screens have brighter pictures, higher contrast, and better color than seen on today's LCD and plasma screens, analysts say. The reason is the technology uses an organic material that emits light, rather than depending on a backlight like other HDTV technologies.

Because of its size and price, Sony's initial OLED display isn't expected to be a part of the mainstream TV market. To penetrate the latter, the set would have to be at least 20 inches and cost much less, according to iSuppli.

The most popular HDTVs today are in the 37- to 42-inch range, with LCD screens the clear market leader. Sony has said it plans to build bigger OLED screens.

While OLED TVs are not expected to be a strong competitor in the TV market for a dozen years, Sony is pushing the technology early in order to avoid missing out on the next big thing, analysts have said. The company trailed in the LCD market for a while after failing to recognize consumer preference for large screen LCD TVs before competitors. Sony, however, partnered with Samsung three years ago, and the joint venture is now the biggest seller of LCD TVs in terms of revenue.

OLED-TV shipments worldwide are expected to increase to 1.2 million units in 2012 from 8,000 this year, iSuppli said. This would amount to a revenue increase to $691 million from less than $1 million. These numbers, however, reflect a very small share of the overall TV market, accounting for less than half of 1% of the 242.7 million TVs expected to ship in 2011.

Before OLED TVs can reach the size and price to compete against other technologies, manufacturers will have to develop the processes necessary to make the screens in large volumes, and to build the equipment needed to build the panels efficiently.

Today's TV market is flooded with display options, including CRT, LCD, plasma, and four types of projection systems. In addition, there's the potential for a variety of novel technologies, such as surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED) and carbon-nanotube field emission display (FED).

With so many options, makers of OLED TV screens may find it difficult to attract the attention of device makers and channel suppliers, iSuppli said.

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