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
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.