Sony has already boasted the first OLED TV released on the market, called the XEL-1, which cost £3,489. This device was really only for early-adopters of new technology who wanted the latest impressive gadget to display on their desk at office or home. Since SONY was the first to produce this OLED technology they did not feel the need to compete with LG and Samsung in terms of coming up with a larger screen OLED TV. Instead, there were discussions at the CES show in January about SONY using a new display called Crystal LED technology. It is claimed that this technology will produce 3.5 times higher picture contrast and 1.4 times richer colours. This new display technology is still in the prototype stage and there have been no plans released for a commercial release as of yet. In April 2012 SONY had a change in management and what they termed a corporate overhaul. A new CEO Kazuo Hira has said that SONY would make sure to focus on Crystal LED technology and OLED technology in future.
Let us take a look at the original SONY OLED TV. The XEL-1, as it was called, was an ultra-slim OLED and was the first OLED television in the world. It was released in September 2008 and claimed to have superior high contrast, perfect clarity and vivid colours. What’s more, the company boasted that the model had record response times with no blurs even during Hollywood Blockbuster scenes or when watching live, fast moving sports. The panel could respond in less than a microsecond, making it one thousand times faster than the response time of an LCD TV. This could be achieved because as soon as the device is switched on the electric current stimulates individual organic elements.
SONY also claimed that the TV set was highly eco-friendly, as it was manufactured with bioplastic material, and since there was no backlight needed, (OLED screens are self-illuminating), there was less material needed in the manufacturing stage to make the TV. Furthermore, since the panel is OLED less energy is consumed in showing the pictures on the screen. Energy consumption is also reduced because when a single pixel is not in use it is completely turned off and receives and consumes no energy. The ‘Idle TV’ function switches off the television if no user activity is recorded in a set time to save energy.
The TV itself comes with a built in table-top stand and is only 3mm in depth and has an 11 inch screen. Its dimensions are 28.7x 25.5x 14.7 cm. The colour of the device is described as piano black. It comes with a remote called the RM-ED015. There are two HDMI inputs on the rear to connect to Blu-Ray Disc and PLAYSTATION3, which are High Definition sources. There is a USB photo viewer or memory stick slot for viewing digital photos on the screen. There are integrated tuners which allow you to watch free to air HD, SD Terrestrial, digital TV and Cable TV. The exact specifications may alter from country to country.
At the moment the SONY XEL-1 model is being sold in the UK for approximately £1000 with Freeview. However, it was reported in January 2012 from the Daily Yomiuri Online publication that Sony was to stop producing OLED TVs for the home market and instead to concentrate on LCD TVs for that market. Productions of OLED TV sets was to be stopped for the time being, however Sony would continue sales to corporate clients. Certainly, the XEL-1 was only ever destined to be a luxury product and was not going to make massive sales. On the horizon in May 2012 there has also been talk of Panasonic and Sony uniting to produce an OLED TV to rival its competitors LG and Samsung, who have both produced 55 inch OLED TVs. Some in the industry are predicting a new Panasony model prototype to be exhibited at the next CES. However, whether Sony will be able to catch up with its rivals in the OLED market remains to be seen.
Sony uses small-molecule OLED technology as opposed to polymer OLED technology because of its longer lifespan. It is estimated that 105% of the NTSC colour space can be achieved by Sony OLED technology. What happens is that red, green and blue pixels are mounted onto a printed circuit board directly. Each of these elements is fitted into a micro-cavity structure, which helps to diminish ambient light interference. A colour filter then filters the colour without the need for a polarizer. Viewing angles of the TV are exceptional and you can see the screen from practically any angle, thanks to no backlight being present. The set itself is ultra-portable and you can easily move it anywhere or tilt the screen for the perfect viewing angle. The weight of the display panel and stand combined is only 2kg.
A contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 is achieved since individual pixels are turned off when black is reproduced. The Sony patented ‘Super Top Emission’ structure also makes better brightness and more vivid colours. The combination of colour filters and the micro-cavity structure really creates stunning colours. The TV menu has been made easier to navigate with the XrossMediaBar menu which lets you easily browse through all the TV functions.
The XEL-1 was a stunning device and Sony did well to prove that it could master and release this technology before its rivals. As of now, there are even more rumours that Sony will consider OLED technology important for the future of its televisions.