Print 11 comment(s) - last by Discord.. on Jan 11 at 7:08 PM

Toshiba and Canon show off new display technologies that could leave the very best of LCDs and Plasmas in the dust

CES has always been the place to go see what's coming in the short future for TVs and flat panel displays. This year was no exception as Toshiba along with Canon showed off what could be the "next-big-thing" for television screens and computer displays.

Called SEDs or Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display, Toshiba and Canon demonstrated a 32" wide 720p display that had the audience floored and raving for more. Not only were pictures sharper and more vivid than LCDs, but the demo left some top-end plasma screens in the shadow.

The technology, which is also refered to as FEDs, or Field Emmision Displays, uses techniques found in age-old cathod-ray-tubes. By using phosphors and electrons, SEDs/FEDs create images by immiting a stream of electrons onto a glass coated with phosphors. Canon has figured out a way to do this using its experience with inkjet technology -- spraying the screen with electrons. The result is a product that is thinner, sharper, more vivid and more responsive than even the very best LCDs and plasmas currently on the market. Obviously, the ability to create a display without the (relatively) bulky LCD substrates is extremely attractive to several companies who do not have glass patents, and other companies who cannot overcome the billion-dollar factory "barrier to entry."  Since an SED does not need a separate backlight either, manufacturers are already predicting that we will see flexible displays and "stitched" displays that are really made of several SED panels connected together. 

Larger screens are expected to show up later this year and ramp up in 2007. At this point, the future looks bleak for LCDs although plasmas may still have a chance -- that is until Motorola unleashes its technology which grows cathode emitters for SEDs/FEDs using carbon nanotubes. Motorola has not yet released details on how far along development on nano-cathode emitters is coming and has not licensed the technology to anyone else.

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No thank you
By Discord on 1/10/2006 4:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
I've had enough of electron guns being pointed at my head in my lifetime. Yes there are some positives to having your head glow in the dark but I really sleep better when it doesn't.
I find it very hard to believe that this technology could be made flexible. Electron emitters are spaced from the phosphorus layer so that would make a rigid structure. Flexing it would cause the emitters to concave or (whatever the opposite word is (someone help me out here I can't think of it)).
While these things may some day be cheaper than LCDs, they are still going to be expensive to make. Fixed pixel electron emitters are extremely difficult and expensive to produce.
SEDs take a big hop forward but also a baby step back. They have better brightness, contrast, picture and ghosting qualities, than LCDs, but they require more juice, irradiate your head and may or may not cost more.
This technology might have made it if it was released on time a couple of years ago, same with LCOS, but it doesn't have a chance now. If they come out later this year they will be in direct competition with OLEDs.
OLEDs will be cheaper to make, flexible, transparent, and require far less juice. They will also have all the positives of SEDs; better picture qualities and no ghosting or viewing angle restrictions.
The only negative is the blue pigment lifespan. Even at the 10k rated hours you should make it three years. Many early model Plasmas and LCDs were hard pressed to make it that long. And frankly, how many people here are using a five or six year old LCD? If you are, I bet your eyeing a new one right now. Even if your OLED burns out before 3 years, you'll be wanting that five inch larger model at half the price and twice the rated lifespan any way.

RE: No thank you
By Enoch2001 on 1/10/2006 10:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
CRT televisions/monitors don't erradiate your head; that's an urban myth - the electron guns have been sheilded for quite some time.

I saw it on "Myth Busters". ;-)

CRT radiation
By kaborka on 1/11/2006 5:25:45 PM , Rating: 2
The electrons in color CRTs hit the phospors with > 20KV energy. This is enough to produce soft x-rays. CRTs use leaded glass to trap these, one reason they're so heavy. Radiation is very low, but not insignificant.

The outer glass allows the light generated by the phosphor out of the monitor, but (for color tubes) it must block dangerous X-rays generated by the impact of the high energy electron beam. For this reason, the glass is made of leaded glass (sometimes called "lead crystal"). Because of this and other shielding, and protective circuits designed to prevent the anode voltage rising too high, the X-ray emission of modern CRTs is well within safety limits.

Dunno what the voltage is between emitters and phosphors are in these, but it's probably just as high so the phospors glow as brightly.

RE: No thank you
By Discord on 1/11/2006 7:08:03 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, then myth busters did a crappy ass job.
I sold computers at Office Depot when I was a kid. I had a potential customer walk up and asked which monitors emitted the least amount of radiation. I pointed to a couple of MRPII (is that right? I forget...) badged screens and said that these were probably the best.
So he walks up to the screens and, to my astonishment, whips out a Geiger counter and starts taking some readings.
The measurements were in the yellow up to about 3 feet away from the screen. Touching the screen spiked the meter into red orange zone. None of the different brands showed any noticeable difference.
These were just 15 and 17 inch screens. Imagine what 19"+ sizes do.

It's taken them longer than expected
By pm on 1/10/2006 10:37:44 AM , Rating: 3
I remember when I first read about SED displays in the EETimes they were expected to be available to consumers in 2002-2003. I presume that they are running into manufacturing problems - in one of the presentations they said that the emitter gap is less than 10nm wide - compare this with the minimum feature size on a silicon chip sitting currently at 65-90nm. In addition, I've read that they are not using photolithography and are relying on deposition techniques... which could reduce cost dramatically, if they can get the recipe right.

If I were a betting man, I would put my money on SED to eventually replace CRT's by being able to drop to the <$300 price point for a >32" display. I look at plasma and LCD's and there are just too many expenses built into the system - they are both hard, complex ways to make a TV. SED and printed OLED's look like the two methods which can enable high-volume, lower-cost manufacturing of large screen HD-capable and of the two, I think SED is more likely.

By Aquila76 on 1/10/2006 1:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
I definitely think SED will replace CRT. It is basically a much thinner version of a CRT in the way it works. The image is as sharp and as high contrast with no ghosting as any PC monitor which unquestionably outpaces any other display technology. I think it's going to end up being SED and LCD/LCoS displays being the main tech from here out. The LCD/LCoS is going to be the low power use but more expensive option, whereas the SED will be (eventually) cheaper but likely use more power. I can't wait for the trickling of SED into PC displays.

By jtesoro on 1/9/2006 9:57:22 PM , Rating: 2
At what sort of price points will this be introduced at?

RE: Cost
By CaptainSpectacular on 1/9/2006 11:55:10 PM , Rating: 2
expensive as hell at first, but this is undoubtedly the way of the future.

another LCoS?
By RamarC on 1/10/2006 9:04:15 AM , Rating: 3
I'm still skeptical considering the way LCoS limped into the market-place. It wowed CES shows and was supposed to combine the best of LCD and DLP and supercede them both. But it wound up being only so-so intially and some of the launch vendors wound up dumping their lines. (The new Sony implementation is reportedly great but 4 years 'late'.) LED/LCD still seems to have the most near-term potential for image quality, power consumption, and size.

Can i afford it?
By BillyBatson on 1/10/2006 6:09:23 AM , Rating: 2
Is the comparison going to be the same with the new LED backlight LCD's? And yes what will be the initial launch price and will there be different tiers of quality/price and if so what will some of the sacrafices be for the affordable home use models?
I for one own a 43" Plasma and if this thing can compare and even best at the same price point, i'll be sold.

By Tracker on 1/10/2006 8:26:48 AM , Rating: 2
Power consumption should be a factor in whether or not SED technology succeeds. LCD's have the lowest power consumption so far. Polution is becoming an important political issue, and if SED's use to much power they will fail.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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