I know you’re fond of your nice, new LCD HDTV, I know–it’s much better than the big CRT brute you had before. But, and trust me on this, you’re going to want to buy a whole new TV next year. It’s going to be OLED you see, and it may come from Panasonic.
That’s because Panasonic just announced a partnership with Sumitomo Chemical company to develop advanced display panels using OLED technology. The partnership will turn into a joint venture to develop and manufacture screens that are 40 inches and over by 2010.
Why all the excitement about this? It’s pretty simple, OLED is about as much of a technological leap in display technology over current LCDs as the LCD was over your old cathode-ray-tube telly. In an LCD, each pixel consists of bunches of tiny packets of liquid crystal that change their structure when a voltage is applied–they don’t actually radiate any light themselves, and that’s why LCD screens need a cold-cathode or LED backlight. The technology works, and it’s been steadily improving for sure, but viewing the displays from different angles results in non-ideal pictures, and it’s difficult for true black to be displayed.
But in an OLED screen each pixel is an array of tiny, colored light-emitting diodes–each one actually glows with the corresponding color from the TV signal. As a result, the brightness, contrast and sharpness of an OLED screen is whole streets ahead of LCD. You can view them from any angle, they can show a wider range of colors than LCD and black areas show up as truly black. Oh, and because they don’t need a backlight they consume far less electricity, and can be much, much thinner. Down to millimeters deep, in fact. Do you want a new TV yet?
Panasonic’s clearly hoping to steal the march on this new tech–the only OLED TV on the market thus far is Sony’s XEL1 which is 3mm deep, but just 11-inches across and comes at a whopping $2000+ price point.