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The XEL-1 OLED TV sports vivid color and contrast.  (Source: Sony Japan)

The XEL-1 OLED TV's razor thin profile.  (Source: Sony Japan)
Sony introduced the world's first OLED TV, which is quite a looker, carries a high price tag, and is only available in Japan

At 3 millimeters thin, Sony’s XEL-1 OLED TV seems to float on the air.  The almost paper-thin display hovers ethereally mounted on a beam, which is juxtaposed onto a thick pedestal base, which sharply contrasts the screens thickness.  The design of the device is very similar to the "Anglepoise" Mac and very modern in design.

The 11-inch XEL-1 brings a lot of innovation to the table at a relatively high price.  The unit, set to go on sale December 1 in Japan only, was unveiled on Sony Japan's website over the weekend. 

The device will cost ¥200,000, or around $1,744 USD -- about twice the price of a 40" LCD TV in Japan.

Overall (base included) the device has measurements of 287×253×140mm and weighs in at 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds).  It sports a 1080p input resolution, though the screen resolution only measures 960 x 540, so it downscales the image to fit the screen.

One of its more impressive features is a sharp
1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and the 45W power consumption.  According to Sony, this represents a 40 percent power reduction over conventional LCD monitors.

Sony touts the device as a display revolution.  They claim that the device has very fast response times -- up to 1,000 times faster than LCD displays -- though no test information was presented to support these claims.

The XEL-1 also boasts superior color and brightness.  The brightness is due to the OLEDs' natural electroluminescence as well as reflected light, which reflects off of "micro-cavities" within the OLED.  The end result, according to Sony, is a much brighter TV without the need for backlights.  The color is also superior and more natural according to Sony.  They explain that with flexible brightness, it is easier to reproduce the full spectrum of colors than in a device which can only be backlit or dark.

In the past, OLED displays have been crippled due to a relatively short lifespan compared to LCDs.  The XEL-1 seems to have this covered, with a declared 30,000 hour lifespan (roughly the equivalent of watching TV eight hours a day for ten years).  An average LCD lifespan is 50,000 hours, so while slightly lower, the XEL-1 isn't that far behind.

The device features some nice extras in terms of ports as well.  It has an integrated digital TV tuner for Japan, USB, LAN interface, one HDMI port, headphones plug and S-Force sound.

Despite its attractive features, Sony plans to limit its initial production to 2,000 units a month.  In contrast, its LCD TV business sells over 10 million TVs a year.

There is no word from Sony, however, on if and when the display will cross the ocean and reach the U.S. Given that Sony is heralding the XEL-1 as the start of a new sector of its TV business, it is safe to say its OLED displays will soon be coming to the U.S.

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45w is lower power use than LCD's?
By Lonyo on 10/2/2007 10:02:29 AM , Rating: 2
My 17" LCD uses IIRC a max of 40w (it's either 20w or 40w), and this 11" OLED uses 45w. I would assume a 17" OLED would use a fair whack more than 40w, even if it does offer higher contrast ratios.

RE: 45w is lower power use than LCD's?
By blaster5k on 10/2/2007 10:16:44 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the power numbers seem a little screwy. I've measured the power consumption on my Dell 2001FP 20" LCD and if I remember correctly it was at 45W in normal use. An 11" monitor would need to have a much smaller number to be an improvement over LCD.

By MrBungle123 on 10/2/2007 11:14:41 AM , Rating: 3
I'm not sure if it makes any difference but this thing has a TV tuner in it in addition to the display, is it possible that the electronics for viewing TV are eating up the extra power?

RE: 45w is lower power use than LCD's?
By Canizorro on 10/2/2007 11:33:30 AM , Rating: 3
I believe what they were pointing out was that it used only 45 watts of power to accomplish a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Your LCD probably only does a 10,000:1 contrast ratio at 40 watts. So the amount of power it would take to theoretically increase the contrast ratio of a conventional LCD to the 1,000,000:1 ratio would take 40% more power or vice versa.

RE: 45w is lower power use than LCD's?
By Anonymous Freak on 10/2/2007 3:10:12 PM , Rating: 5
Nope. Contrast ratio does not require more power.

BRIGHTNESS requires more power, but one of the big selling points (theoretically) of OLEDs was that they offered much higher brightness for less power because on an OLED, the display pixels themselves are emitting the light, whereas on an LCD, you have transparent pixels that are lit from behind. (So if you show a 100% black image on an LCD, you are essentially 'wasting' all the power of the backlight, whereas a 100% black image on an OLED will be using almost no power, because it won't even be emitting any light.) And, in fact, the reason an OLED achieves this incredible contrast ratio is because dark parts are actually DARK, not just a 'covered up light source', which means the darker parts should be drawing LESS power.)

The recent improvement in LCD power usage has been to change the backlight from a compact fluorescent or cold cathode tube to an array of white LEDs.

In addition, the claim that the TV tuner causes the power increase is also bogus. My MacBook Pro with a USB TV tuner, 15.4" LCD screen on full brightness, only draws 40 Watts. And it's using the main processor to decode the 1080i signal, not a dedicated (aka "low power") decoder chip. (I figured out the power draw using Apple's System Profiler - Power tab. 11949 mV at 3288 mA, do the math, you get 39.28 Watts.)

By Canizorro on 10/6/2007 10:06:31 AM , Rating: 2
Actually it does require more power for a higher contrast ratio when using conventional LCD technology. As it is expressed now, to gain a higher contrast ratio you would need to increase the brightest point or lower the darkest point. So to say that it's only the brightness that requires more power is false, as increasing the brightness also increases the contrast ratio. And to increase the contrast ratio without using more power to increase the brightness point will mean using a different method of lowering the darkest point.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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