Aimed at the top end of the consumer market, Sony's XEL-1 television offers an 11-inch OLED screen that is just 3-millimeters (mm) thick and will go on sale in December. The screen is thinner than a LCD (liquid crystal display) or PDP (plasma display panel) set because no backlight is required: OLED materials, which are carbon-based, emit light on their own when an electric current is applied.
The XEL-1 will accept up to a 1080p video image, although the 11-inch screen has a resolution of just 960 pixels by 540 pixels.
The launch of the XEL-1, coming one day before the start of the Ceatec 2007 exhibition, gives Sony a head start on its competitors, many of whom are also working on OLED technology for televisions. After several years of being upstaged by competitors pushing into new technology areas, such as MP3 players and LCD televisions, the OLED launch puts Sony firmly ahead in the race to thinner flat-screen televisions.
OLEDs offer other advantages over LCD and PDP technology, including wider viewing angles, faster response time, and better contrast and colors. However, the technology is difficult to manufacture and the OLED material degrades over time.
Sony said the XEL-1 has a viewing life of 30,000 hours, which allows a user to watch eight hours of television each day for 10 years. The television goes on sale in Japan on Dec. 1, and will cost %200,000 (US$1,740.50). Currently, there are no plans to sell the television outside Japan, as Sony plans to manufacture just 2,000 sets each month.
The XEL-1 has a thin, widescreen display mounted on a metal arm attached to a base. The base contains all of the electronics required for the television, and has an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port, a built-in satellite tuner, as well as a USB port and an Ethernet connection.
The television, which uses the same XMB user interface found in the company's Bravia line of LCD televisions and PlayStation 3, measures 287 mm by 253 mm by 140 mm, and weighs 2 kilograms.