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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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RE: 1,000,000:1 contrast?
By kilkennycat on 10/2/2007 11:05:17 AM , Rating: 2
Seems like quite a jump form the 15000:1 or so i'm used to seeing on higher mid-range LCDs.

Pray tell me exactly which LCD models have 15,000:1 contrast ratio --- worst-case measured over the whole screen area.

RE: 1,000,000:1 contrast?
By zombiexl on 10/2/2007 11:16:58 AM , Rating: 2
Most newer (last year or so) samsungs are listed as 15000:1.

RE: 1,000,000:1 contrast?
By ira176 on 10/2/2007 2:44:12 PM , Rating: 2
Companies are confusing consumers over advertised contrast ratios. There are two standars by which companies try to lure consumers. 1. Standard contrast ratio which is usually 1000:1 or a little higher or Dynamic contrast ratio which I've seen as high as 15000:1. I often see only the higher dynamic contrast ratio advertised on certain LCD's. Companies still take advantage of the consumer mentality that higher (or more) is better. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe both types of contrast ratio measurements are applicable to any LCD panel.

RE: 1,000,000:1 contrast?
By erikejw on 10/2/2007 6:14:38 PM , Rating: 3
The best LCDs have about 1000:1 or up tp 1200:1
Any other claims is just bogus and worthless unless you watch low APL scenes. It is dynamic contrast they use and most videofiles just turn it off for a better pic.

JVSc latest LCos projector have a 30000:1 native contrast though and is outstanding in the industry right now.

“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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