Toshiba and Canon are planning to launch their first televisions in 2007 based on a new flat-panel display technology called SED (surface-conduction electron-emitter display), they said last week.
The companies had originally been planning to put SED-based sets on sale in 2005 and as recently as February Toshiba had said it was planning to sell SED TVs in small quantities in the early part of this year.
Both companies are debuting the technology now with Olympic gold in their sights. "The market for flat-panel televisions is continuing to grow because of the global shift to digital TV," said Makoto Yasuda, a spokesman at Toshiba in Tokyo. "We see the Beijing Olympics as the target for the full-scale sales of SED."
SED technology has been under development for more than 20 years and is being positioned by Canon and Toshiba as a better option for large-screen TVs than PDP (plasma display panel) technology. SED panels can produce pictures that are as bright as CRTs (cathode ray tubes), use as much as one-third less power than equivalent size PDPs and don't have the slight time delay sometimes seen with some other flat-panel displays, according to the companies.
Toshiba and Canon built a factory in the Tokyo suburbs last year to manufacture the displays and trial production of 36-inch panels began there in the latter half of the year. Test production of larger screens has also been carried out at the plant but the technology is proving difficult to scale, according to engineers.
The companies had decided to hold off on commercialization to give it time to improve production methods and reduce costs, Toshiba said. They now plan to begin first-stage mass production in July 2007 and launch TV sets based on the screens in the fourth quarter that year.