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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 Awax on 10/3/2007 5:15:02 AM , Rating: 2
WARNING, there are different types of LCD LED backlighting.

Laptops currently released with LED backlighting are using them the same way they were using the previous light source : the same light level for the whole screen. The color accuracy is just a little bit better, the consumption is lower and the screen can be a bit thinner.

Screen using LED to create sub section in the backlighting are VERY thick and VERY VERY expensive.

Anyway, the main difference between LCD and Plasma/OLED/SED is the way the light is generated. In the LCD, you have a blacklight, blocked by the LCD. In a Plasma/OLED/SED, every pixel is its own light source. As blocking light is harder then not generating it, LCD will always be disadvantaged. The trick used by LCD maker is to get closer to other screen technology : have a light source dedicated per pixel or pixel group.


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