Sony EL display is paper thin

Sony demonstrated a new electroluminescent display that is paper thin at the Display2008 conference in Japan.

Sony XEL-1 EL TV currently sells in Japan for just under $2,000
Sony XEL-1 EL TV currently sells in Japan for just under $2,000 Sony

There's thin. Then there's paper thin. Sony showed an electroluminescent (EL) display that's print-paper thin at the Display2008 conference in Tokyo.

The Sony EL display is based on organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology that uses electroluminescent organic materials. OLED panels are extremely thin because they don't need backlights. The electroluminescent layer contains a polymer substance that directly converts electricity to light.

The panel shown this week at Diplay2008 is about 0.3mm thick, besting Sony's current 1.4mm-thick EL TV (photo). Epson lists its Premium Glossy Photo Paper as 0.3mm thick. So by this standard the panel is literally paper thin.

Sony also exhibited an 11-inch panel.

The most cutting of cutting-edge technology is always a sticker shocker. Sony currently sells an 11-inch EL TV (960×540) for a staggering 190,000 yen, or just under $2,000. That's right, an 11-inch display. Even smaller than the displays on subnotebooks, which typically come with 12-inch LCDs.

The image quality is stunning, however, producing the best--or close to the best--of all of the following: color, contrast, viewing angles, and refresh rates.

"It has a superhigh contrast ratio (allegedly, 1 million to one), it boasts faster response times than LCD or plasma, it looks incredibly sharp with colors that really pop--and because OLED screens don't require a backlight, they're more energy efficient than plasma or LCD," according to this CNET review.

Another thing: the organic matter used can by ruined by the elements, so special sealing technology is necessary for the displays.

Sony has been making smaller, 3.8-inch OLED displays for gadgets since 2004.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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