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Friday, May 23, 2008
Sony to Offer Larger OLED HDTVs in 2009

Sony plans to invest additional US$200 million in volume production of larger OLED displays, ready to go by 2009.

The announcement was made by Yoshito Shiraishi, general manager of E-Products and Business Development Department, TV Business Group, Sony Corp, at "SID 2008."

The new investment plans come just Sony's previous announcement of the a capital investment of 22 billion yen (US$213 million) in volume production of 20" OLED panels on Feb 19, 2008.

Sony has already released its its first 11-inch OLED TV in Japan and the U.s.

OLED panels are said to be energy-efficient, make thin and light displays, and have strength in showing fast-moving images. AM OLEDs (active matrix-based) consists of two glass substrates and light-emitting fluorescent organic compound which fills the gap between two substrates. AM OLED TV is much slimmer than LCD TV and much better than LCD TV in terms of video quality, response time, contrast, and power consumption. However, they still have a product life less than existing LCD TVs.

At the same event, Sony compared the performance of its XEL-1 OLED display with the company's BRAVIA 20J3000 series of LCD TVs.

The comparison included contrast ratio, gamma characteristics and power consumption parameters. The company said that the panel power consumption of OLED displays depends on the type of TV program. In programs such as music, sports, movies documentaries or news, the OLED TV has significantly lower power consumption, compared to the BRAVIA LCD TV. However, LCD TVs consume less when the level of the displayed signal higher, which means that the displayed picture includes more bright and white variations of colors. Reduced power consumption makes OLEDs superior to LCDs, which require more power due to the backlight of the display module. Being emissive in nature, OLEDs offer power-saving capabilities that reduce the long-term application costs.

Besides Sony, Samsung is also planning to invest in OLED displays and offer its first larg OLED TVs in 2009-2010. The company claims that it has the technological ability to produce 40-inch AM OLEDs. A 31-inch AM OLED TV prototype was on display at CES 2008 in Las Vegas last January.

Toshiba Matsushita Display has also announced that it aims to launch TV-use organic light-emitting diode panels in three years, taking aim at the $35 billion market dominated by LCD and plasma panels. The company will start commercial production of OLED panels for flat TVs by 2009.

OLED displays are already popular and are used in digital cameras, cellphones and other devices with relatively small panels.

But cost and technology hurdles have so far prevented them from being mass produced for use in larger equipment such as TVs.

Constant price reductions in LCD technology will make the OLED market a niche market. In the long term, the OLED market will grow at a faster rate due to the low competency level of thin film transistor (TFT) plants. At the same time, the anticipated price stabilization of active matrix OLEDs in a few years will increase the growth rate of the OLED market. The emergence of OLED TV will have an impact on the market only in the long term and it will remain a niche product until then.

OLEDs are expected to face strong competition from LCDs. Although the performance benefits of OLEDs surpass LCDs, the decreasing cost of LCDs remains a key factor constraining the industry. The best strategy to overcome this could be the development of applications where OLEDs and LCDs can coexist, for example, in the backlight of an LCD panel.

To establish a significant market presence, OLED manufacturers should build on energy efficiency, improve resolutions and boost OLED life cycles, analysts suggest.

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