Sony XEL-1 OLED TV

The Good Produces absolute black levels; excellent color saturation; superb viewing angle and screen uniformity; sleek design featuring ultrathin panel.

The Bad Ridiculously expensive; tiny screen; inaccurate primary colors; less than HD resolution; no anti-judder processing; screen reflects ambient light; minimal inputs; thin panel cannot be removed from base.

The Bottom Line The Sony XEL-1, the world's first OLED TV, costs $2,500 for an 11-inch screen, but its beautiful picture ably shows the promise of the new technology.

Editors' Rating
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 8.0
7.7 Overall

Compare

Sony XEL-1 OLED TV
Sony XEL-1 OLED TV
TCL 55P605
TCL 55P605
TCL 55P607
TCL 55P607
LG OLED65C7P
LG OLED65C7P
LG OLED55C7P
LG OLED55C7P
Price $600 Best Buy $736 Amazon.com $2,700 LG $1,700 LG
Design
8
7
7
9
9
Features
7
9
9
10
10
Performance
8
8
8
10
10

Review

Sony XEL-1 OLED TV

One of the most-common questions we get as CNET HDTV reviewers, after the overwhelming favorite "What HDTV should I buy?," is "What's the next big thing in HDTV?" Granted, we don't hear that question as often as we used to, perhaps because LCD, plasma, and microdisplay sets have become more commonplace--but we still hear it. A couple years back it seemed that the next big HDTV thing might be SED, a flat-panel technology backed by Toshiba and Canon that promised to surpass the picture quality of current panels, with better blacks, faster response times, and punchier colors. SED is basically D.E.A.D., but those same promises are now being made by OLED.

Sony's XEL-1 represents the first widely available OLED-based TV. OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode, and its benefits, according to the company, include improved contrast ratio, wider viewing angles, and better color reproduction. According to our tests on the Sony XEL-1, most of those claims have merit. Of course, this is an 11-inch TV for $2,500, and its 960x540 native resolution doesn't even qualify it as an HDTV, so its appeal as a product is limited to only the most profligate wastrels. Sony hasn't announced any plans to produce larger sizes in 2008, and we expect that bigger OLED sets, whether from Sony or another manufacturer--Panasonic, Hitachi, Samsung Electronics, at least, have made large investments in OLED--will cost a mint thanks to manufacturing difficulties and the usual high price of early-generation technology. Nevertheless, if the XEL-1 is any indication, OLED looks like the real (next big) thing.

Design
The first thing most people notice when they see the minuscule XEL-1 is the outsize base, and the second is the sliver-thin panel itself. These two design characteristics go hand-in-hand. OLED allows the XEL-1's panel to measure a vanishing 3mm deep, and thinner OLED prototypes have been demonstrated--even ones that can be rolled up like a parchment scroll. We don't see much utility right now for a thinner thin-screen TV--what, is 4 inches too thick?--and the panel's lack of depth poses a significant design problem: where do you plug everything in? The width of an HDMI port, for example, is about 6mm without including the housing required to secure it, and other, older port types are larger.

Continue Reading

Specs / Prices

  • Brand Sony
  • Type OLED TV
  • Diagonal Class 11 in
  • HDMI Ports Qty 2 ports
  • Display Format 576p
See full specs

Report errors

How To

Winter Olympics 2018: When they start, how to stream and more

Winter Olympics 2018: When they start, how to stream and more

Oscars 2018: Start time, how to stream and more

Oscars 2018: Start time, how to stream and more

Super Bowl 2018: How to watch Patriots vs Eagles online, start time and much more

Super Bowl 2018: How to watch Patriots vs Eagles online, start time and much more

How to stream the State of the Union 2018

How to stream the State of the Union 2018

Grammys 2018: How to watch the awards show

Grammys 2018: How to watch the awards show

How to watch Eagles vs. Vikings online

How to watch Eagles vs. Vikings online

How to watch Patriots vs. Jaguars online

How to watch Patriots vs. Jaguars online

How to watch the College Football Playoff if you don't have cable

How to watch the College Football Playoff if you don't have cable

5 tips to improve your TV’s streaming quality

5 tips to improve your TV’s streaming quality

New TV? Here's how to set it up

New TV? Here's how to set it up

How to watch NFL games if you don't have cable

How to watch NFL games if you don't have cable

Latest News