A Greener Player in the TV Format War

Media Morph: OLED

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: OLED.

WHAT IT IS: A TV-screen technology to add to a jargon dictionary that already includes LCD, DLP and plasma. Technically, it stands for organic light-emitting diode and uses an organic carbon material as it converts energy to light.
It can be used commercially for things such as mobile-phone displays and digital picture displays but is starting to be used in TV screens. You didn't think the TV format wars were over, did you? And at a Consumer Electronics Show without a whole lot of action, the OLED screens were getting rave reviews from tech enthusiasts for their resolution, brilliant colors and lower energy consumption.

WHO'S USING IT: Sony introduced the first OLED TV at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show and began selling 11-inch screens in Japan last year. This year, Sony announced it would begin selling the product in Sony Style stores in the U.S. for $2,500. It also produced a 27-inch prototype. Samsung, meanwhile, produced some OLED TV prototypes, one at 31 inches.

THE DRAW: While the size may not have been impressive, the picture was with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio when viewed from any angle. And in a year when thin was in, it was the superlative with a thickness of three credit cards. (Unlike traditional TV formats, OLED does not need to be backlit.) Of course, the price for the size will restrict buyers to true technophiles, but remember -- LCD and plasma were prohibitively expensive at one time too.

BLOGOSPHERE BUZZ: Gizmodo writes: "It's still years away from mainstream adoption -- and there are huge barriers to manufacturing the larger screen sizes -- but Sony and Samsung are already slogging it out to achieve the largest screen size for its prototype OLED TVs. ... It makes me think that Samsung, like Sony, is going to transition to OLED more quickly than anyone guessed. Plasma's not dead, but LCD might be."
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