Sony plans OLED TV launch

Plans release in Japan later this year

Sony Corp. hopes to steal a lead on its rivals this year by launching televisions that use organic LED displays, the company said today.

OLED screens have several advantages over the LCDs and plasma display panels (PDP) used in today's flat-panel TVs. The OLED pixels use an organic material that emits its own light, so no backlight is needed. That means the screens consume less power and can be made thinner. OLEDs also handle fast-moving images better and offer good color reproduction.

Sony plans to launch an OLED TV with an 11-in. screen in Japan this year, said Daichi Yamafuji, a spokesman for Sony in Tokyo. No other details of the product's launch had been decided. The target release date applies only to Japan and not to international availability, Yamafuji said.

Sony wowed visitors at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January with prototype OLED screens that included 11- and 27-in. panels. The 11-in. prototype was 11 millimeters thick and offered a resolution of 1,024 by 600 pixels.

The plan could help Sony regain the lead it once enjoyed in the television market. The company was slow to make the switch to LCD TVs and lost its market-leading position to Sharp Corp., which committed to LCDs several years before other makers and has been enjoying the results of that gamble. A switch to OLED could help Sony claw back market share, especially if the thinner OLED TVs, with their more vibrant pictures, can be made cost-competitive with other flat-panel TVs.

Sony wouldn't comment on pricing plans for its OLED TVs.

It's not the only company that has been developing OLEDs for use in televisions. Samsung Electronics Co. has developed 21- and 40-in. prototypes, and Seiko Epson Corp. has demonstrated a 20-in. screen. Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology Co. said this week that it has developed a 20.8-in. OLED display for use in future television sets.

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