Toshiba Eyes Alternative Flat TV Technology

Toshiba plans to launch a television based on a new flat-panel display technology called SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display) in 2005, a company executive says.

The technology has been under development by Toshiba and Canon since the 1990s. Televisions using this technology are said by developers to produce pictures that are as bright as a conventional CRT pictures but without the slight time-delay sometimes seen with other flat-panel technologies such as LCDs and PDPs (plasma display panels).

Toshiba's first SED television will be launched during the 2005 calendar year, says Takeshi Nakagawa, chief executive officer (CEO) of the company's electronic devices and components group. Initial production will be set at a small quantity and the TVs are likely to be expensive, he says.

Plans for commercialization in 2005 match a production schedule for SED panels disclosed in September by Toshiba and Canon, which are investing $2 billion in a joint-venture called SED Inc. The plans call for SED to begin manufacturing around 3000 50-inch panels from August next year. Those plans remain unchanged, a Toshiba spokesperson says.

The two companies had prototype SED panels on show at the Ceatec exhibition in Japan in October. The technology attracted long queues for a seat at each demonstration.

Replacement Technology

Toshiba is eyeing SED as a replacement technology for PDP panels, particularly for use in panels of around 40-inches or larger. The company has already begun laying plans to phase out production of PDP televisions in 2007. It plans to keep LCD panels in small and mid-size sets and use SED for larger sets.

SED is one of several emerging display technologies that, according to their respective backers, do a better job than either LCD or PDP.

One such competitor, OLED (organic light emitting diode), is already used commercially for small screens in products such as cell phones but its development has yet to reach the stage where it can be used for televisions.

Sony and others have been working for several years on another technology called FED (Field Emission Display) but that too has yet to reach commercialization.

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