Sony eyeing OLED TVs for 2008

Flat panels based on organic light-emitting diodes may be just around the corner, execs say. Photos: Sony's LED prototypes

LAS VEGAS--Another thin-TV standard looms on the horizon.

Sony Electronics is looking at ways to bring flat-panel TVs based around organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer and Sony Electronics President Stan Glasgow said in an interview.

"It is not as far off as you might think," Glasgow said. "Perhaps next year."

Sony has managed to make large OLED screens. At the Consumer Electronics Show here, Sony is showing off a 27-inch OLED panel, along with other, small OLED screens.

Still, a lot of work remains, and both executives emphasized that Sony is not announcing products or a definitive commitment to OLED TVs. The company, for instance, has to figure out how to mass-manufacture them at a price consumers are willing to pay. SED, a TV format promoted by Toshiba, has been delayed several times. Critics say that when it comes out, Toshiba will have challenges making SED, which stands for surface conduction electron emitter display, competitive in price with plasma or LCD.

Materials in an OLED display emit light when an electrical current is applied. Because of their luminescent nature, OLED displays don't require a backlight, consume less power and can result in thinner screens than LCDs, which are currently favored in the flat-panel industry.

To date, manufacturers have used OLEDs for screens inside phones and MP3 players. Samsung, like Sony, has also shown off larger OLED screens that can function as TVs.

They are "breathtakingly bright," Stringer said of OLEDs. "The reality is connected to price, but it is so beautiful we want people to see it."

If Sony does come out with an OLED TV, it would likely come out in Japan first, Glasgow said.

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