Sony hopes to steal a lead on its rivals this year by launching televisions that use OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays, it says.
OLED screens have several advantages over the LCDs (liquid crystal displays) and PDPs (plasma display panels) used in current flat-panel TVs. The OLED pixels use an organic material that emits its own light, so no backlight is needed. That means the screens consume less power and can be made thinner. OLEDs also handle fast-moving images better and offer good colour reproduction.
Sony plans to launch an OLED TV with an 11-inch screen in Japan this year, says Daichi Yamafuji, a spokesman for Sony in Tokyo. No other details of the product had been decided. The target release date applies only to Japan and not to international availability, Yamafuji says.
Sony wowed visitors at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January with prototype OLED screens that included 11-inch and 27-inch panels. The 11-inch prototype was just 11 millimeters thick and offered a resolution of 1024 pixels by 600 pixels.
The plan could help Sony regain the lead it once enjoyed in the television market. The company was slow to make the switch to LCD TVs and lost its market-leading position to Sharp, which committed to LCDs several years before other makers and has been enjoying the results of that gamble. A quick switch to OLED could help Sony claw back share, especially if the thinner OLED TVs, with their more vibrant pictures, can be made cost-competitive to other flat-panel TVs.
Sony wouldn't comment on any planned prices for its OLED TVs.
It's not the only company that has been developing OLEDs for use in televisions. Samsung Electronics has developed 21-inch and 40-inch prototypes, and Seiko Epson has demonstrated a 20-inch screen. Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology says it has developed a 20.8-inch OLED display for use in future television sets.