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Manufacturing a challenge for OLED TVs, Sony confirms

Large OLED screens look great, but making them is not a million laughs. Producing them in large quantities remains a work in progress, executives say.

LAS VEGAS--Why do the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TVs from Sony measure only 11 inches across? Because large OLEDs are really tough to make.

While praising the OLED format during a press conference here with a few reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday morning, Sony executives acknowledged that producing large OLED screens in large quantities remains a work in progress. OLEDs now are mostly used in cell phones, which have small screens.

"The difficult challenge with the larger screen sizes is improving the yields. There are a lot of complications, many more than with LCD," said Katsumi Ihara, executive deputy president and head of Sony's Consumer Products Group. "The yields tend to be low. That is the biggest challenge."

Michael Kanellos

The company declined to provide dates for when it might provide larger versions of the TV for sale. Sony is showing off a 25-inch diameter OLED prototype at the show this year, but it's the same size as a prototype the company showed last year. (We questioned whether yields were an issue in a post on Sunday, and here's your answer.)

Ihara added that Sony may seek collaborators in expanding OLED. Sony and Samsung have a joint venture in LCD TVs, and Sony worked with Toshiba and IBM to develop the Cell processor.

"It is too early to tell, but it is probably one of the options that we will have to consider," he said.

Despite the difficulties, Sony wanted to be first in OLED TVs, added Sir Howard Stringer, Sony's CEO. Sony was late to LCD, he said, and was subsequently forced to catch up.

"I was amused to see analysts say it is not good to be first and that it is better to be last," Stringer said.