Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thinking Aloud: Uncertain Future for OLED Displays

Sony-XEL-1Recently Sony announced that it would cease the sales of its XEL-1 model in Japan once inventory runs out, which probably soon since they do not produce many of it per year. Sony was first to the OLED Display market with its 11” XEL-1 model with the price tag of $2500. OLED has enjoyed more widespread used in handheld devices such as mobile phones, but going from 3.3” to 11” was proven troublesome even for Sony, the leader in the technology. Last year Sony said it would release a bigger model. The fate of that plan is unknown currently.

OLED technology is supposed to be the saviour in high fidelity display. Delay after delay of the larger display models from LG, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and other CE companies and the falling prices of LCD displays and the full steam campaign of 3D Displays may make it more daunting for any companies to champion OLED TVs of reasonable size and price to the market in the next two to three years. I am afraid OLED may be put back into company’s R&D vault to be revisited another day.

OLED stands for organic light emitting diode. It is organic because the layers that make up OLED contain carbon instead of the typical semiconductor materials of ordinary light emitting diode. OLED display has several advantages over typical LCD because OLED display pixels directly emit lights unlike LCD that requires backlight. Since the pixels of OLED display are directly lit, colours will be displayed correctly when viewing angle changes. White will be white even when you shift your view. Colour changes or shifts with LCD as you move your viewing angle because of its used of backlight and that has been major annoyance for high fidelity.

Another advantage of being directly lit is that when displaying black OLED pixels are actually off while LCD will try to block out the light, but the backlight still leak anyway, making true black impossible on LCD. True black will give OLED several order of magnitude of contrast ratio. Even this will not make a different in the typical living room but in a light controlled home theatre, the extra contrast will be very noticeable. Therefore, until OLED takes over in who knows when? If you are looking for high fidelity display, you will need to go for Plasma display for now. However, I do hope that some companies will bring out a 24”-30” OLED Displays for desktop use, as I feel all the current flat screen displays on the market are inadequate.

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