Does OLED TV have a future?

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

CES: Gadgets from the Consumer Electronics Show

The Consumer Electronics Show is underway, with myriad companies announcing new devices and services. Here’s a sample, as seen through the lens of Reuters photographers Mario Anzuoni and Steve Marcus.


the Infoscape concept at the Intel booth


Panasonic’s 3d Camcorder. Sure, it kind of looks like a “viewmaster”. But its one of the keys to creating 3D content for consumers to see when they buy a 3D TV.


A super-thin OLED screen from LG Electronics. OLED (Organic light emitting diode) screens are clear and bright, but TVs with the screens are still mostly small and expensive.

CES: LG’s watch a secret agent could love

Mention a watch phone and many people will say the same thing: “sounds like something out of a James Bond movie.”

So when Woo Paik, president and chief technology officer of LG Electronics, introduced LG’s new wrist-wrapping, touch-screen communications device at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, he couldn’t let the moment pass without the obligatory 007 reference.

And it’s true, there was certainly something Bond-ish when Paik lifted his wrist to his mouth and placed a call to someone across the room.

CES: Consumer gadgets still hot, hotter than cars at least

Recession or not, people like gadgets and they’re going to buy them. At least that’s what Consumer Electronics Association economist Shawn DuBravac and industry analyst Steve Koenig suggested in their presentation at CES in Las Vegas.

Of course, overall consumer spending has fallen as thrift becomes thrilling, and the CEA projects it will be down 0.3 percent this year. But people will still shell out for really smart phones, tricked-out digicams and touchy-feely computers.

That’s because people having been spending more and more of their discretionary dollars on gadgets over the years, compared to the percentages they spend on other durable goods like cars and home appliances. Tech is now an integral part of people’s lives, Koenig and DuBravas said.

Gorgeous to gimmicky – new tech at Berlin’s IFA show

Technicians mount a new generation of OLED TV screen on the Samsung exhibition stand at the Internationale Funkaustellung consumer electronics fair in BerlinThe genuinely gorgeous and the jaw-droppingly gimmicky are rare sights on the floors of TVs and tumble dryers on show in in Berlin at IFA, which claims to be the world’s largest consumer electronics fair, but this year Sony takes the dubious accolade of having both on show within a few metres of each other.

First the sublime: Sony’s XEL-1 TV, based on OLED technology, will go on sale in Europe for the Christmas season for around 3,000 euros after being available in Japan for almost a year. With just an 11 inch diagonal, you don’t get much screen size for your money, but you do get a TV that’s just three millimetres thick and has strikingly more vivid picture than conventional LCD technology.

Of course, Sony isn’t going to be alone with OLED televisions for long. Samsung also has an impressive array to go on sale next year, though theirs will be pricy too — product executive Noh Young Joong told Reuters they would likely cost two to three times as much as equivalent-sized LCD units.