Sony's Almost-Paper-Thin OLED-TV Coming to U.S.
The sets, which dropped in Japan for about $1,700, use a newer type of display called Organic LED, or OLED. The technology isn't altogether dissimilar to that of your typical LCD television, but where an LCD display requires backlights to illuminate the picture from behind, an OLED panel illuminates itself. Without the backlight, the bezel can be made smaller, resulting in the thin set seen here. OLED also can offer brilliant brightness and contrast compared to a traditional LCD, but its biggest problem is degradation. Where an LCD will last you pretty much forever (if you replace the backlights), OLEDs eventually fade and die.
The XEL-1 suffers from this problem, rated to deliver about 30,000 hours worth of viewing before having to be retired. That's less than half your average plasma set, and at the extreme price for the size, the XEL-1 is more a design and technical exercise than anything. We saw it on the show floor at CEATEC a couple of months ago and loved the look of it. We're glad to see Sony will be bringing it to the U.S. ... even if we can't necessarily afford one.
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