Sony plans OLED TV launch this year

Sony is hoping to steal a lead on rivals this year by launching televisions that use OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays

Sony is hoping to steal a lead on rivals this year by launching televisions that use OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays, it said Thursday.

OLED screens have several advantages over the LCDs (liquid crystal displays) and PDP (plasma display panel) displays used in today's flat-panel TV. The OLED pixels feature an organic material that emits its own light, so no backlight is needed. That means the display panels consume less power and can be made thinner. OLEDs also handle fast-moving images better and offer good color reproduction.

Sony plans to launch an OLED TV with an 11-inch screen in Japan during 2007, said Daichi Yamafuji, a spokesman for Sony in Tokyo. No other details of the product had been decided. Yamafuji said Sony's target applies only to a Japan launch and not international availability.

At the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January the company wowed visitors with prototype OLED screens including 11-inch and 27-inch panels. The 11-inch prototype was just 11 millimeters thick and offered a resolution of 1024 pixels by 600 pixels.

The plan could help Sony regain the lead it once enjoyed in the television market. The company was slow to make the switch to LCD televisions and lost its market-leading position to Sharp, which committed to LCD technology several years ahead of other makers and has been enjoying the results of that gamble. However a quick switch to OLED could help Sony claw back share, especially if the thinner OLED TVs with their more vibrant pictures can be made cost-competitive to other flat-panel TVs.

Sony wouldn't comment on prices for the new TVs.

It's not the only company that has been developing OLED technology for use in televisions. Samsung Electronics has developed 21-inch and 40-inch prototypes and Japan's Seiko Epson has demonstrated a 20-inch screen. Toshiba Matsushita coDisplay Technology said this week that it has developed a 20.8-inch OLED display for use in future television sets.

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