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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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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.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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