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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: Awesome!
By s12033722 on 10/2/2007 4:38:43 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, contrast ratios are not additive, they are multiplicative, so 1,000,000 times more than zero is in fact zero. That's what the above poster is referencing. The contrast ratio means that a fully white pixel is one million times brighter than a dark one. That is certainly possible, since almost no light should be coming out of an OLED pixel that is turned off.

Consider this case. An LCD TV has a 10000 to 1 contrast ratio. An OLED has a 1000000 to 1 contrast ratio, but the dark pixel is 1000x darker than the LCD. Now, since the bright pixel of the LCD is 10000 times brighter than the dark pixel of the LCD, and the dark LCD is 1000 times brighter than the dark pixel of the OLED, the bright LCD pixel is 10x brighter than the OLED. That's what he is concerned about.

I have an additional concern: What's the controllable contrast ratio (dynamic range)? So a 0 is 1000000x dimmer than full on, what is a 1? How about a 10? I'd be pretty shocked if that is beyond a 4096 to 1 contrast ratio (12-bit).


RE: Awesome!
By idconstruct on 10/3/2007 2:33:28 AM , Rating: 2
The ratios are actually exponential. As you approach absolute blackness, the contrast ratio goes to infinity. Not that it really changes the meaning of your post, but I just thought I'd add that.

Oh, and a general statement, everyone seems to be thinking that normal LCD contrast ratios are around and upwards of ten thousand to one... My $700 24" LCD is 1000:1 which is above the average, which is about 800:1 ... and the highest contrast I found after searching newegg was 3000:1, which is probably due, in part, to a dim backlight.


RE: Awesome!
By geddarkstorm on 10/4/2007 1:41:21 PM , Rating: 2
But, contast ratios are 1,000,000:1. In words, one million to one. That is, absolute black would be put to 1. Even in your LCD TV comparison, it's 10,000 TO 1. Since 1 becomes the standard that you are making your adjustment on, there is no zero, so it isn't negated. However, you are still right in that an LCD's 1 is different from the perceived darkness of an OLED's 1.

Nevertheless! The fact that the brightest pixel on an OLED is a million times greater than its base (1) pixel, to our eyes, that's HUGE. Contrast is a major issue in human sight, and better contrast gives better details even in low light. Now, the amount of illumination, or amount of light, simply put off by each pixel is a totally different issue, which everyone seems to be confusing.


RE: Awesome!
By geddarkstorm on 10/4/2007 1:49:34 PM , Rating: 2
I also meant to add:

There are plenty of contrast illusions out there you can look up if you want. You can make something that's a lighter shade of gray appear much darker (or lighter!) just by playing with the constrast environment it is within. http://www.colorcube.com/illusions/illusion.htm is a site with a few examples.

So then, to our brains, a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio is a far greater thing than 10,000:1 no matter where the 1 starts (within reason of the rest of the environment you are in, as in, if the frame around the monitor is much darker than the monitor's 1, then its 1 will never be black to your perception)


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