Does OLED TV have a future?

February 16, 2010

sony oled

Two years ago at the annual Consumer Electronics Show,  Sony unveiled an OLED television — that’s an Organic Light Emitting Diode TV. It was sleek, sporting credit-card thinness, superior picture quality and energy efficiency, and some thought the technology might eventually overtake plasma and LCD. Its only hang-up was sticker shock: $2,000 for an 11-inch screen. No worries — the price will drop and demand will rise and more units are manufactured, right?

Maybe not. Sony has pulled the plug on OLED TV sales in Japan due to poor sales. It is still difficult — and expensive — to make big OLED displays, especially when prices for other forms of TVs are shrinking while sizes are increasing. Sony showed off a slightly bigger models at this years CES, including a 3D prototype. As for the models on store shelves,  New York Electronics retailer J&R Music and Computer World is selling one for $1,500 after a whopping $1,000 discount.

But OLED isn’t dead: LG, which bought Kodak’s OLED business, showed off retail-ready 15-inch OLED TVs at this years CES.

It also seems to have a future on smaller devices, such as Microsoft’s latest pocket-sized Zune HD media player, and HTC’s new Desire mobile phone. It remains to be seen if the technology makes a difference for which consumers are willing to pay a premium.

Photo: Reuters; Youtube

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It took 25 years for LCDs to progress from calculator displays to televisions. Be patient.

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