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Thin Is In For Flat TV At CEATEC

Chiba, Japan — Thin is in at the CEATEC JAPAN 2007 show, here at the Makuhari Messe, when it comes to HDTV, that is.

Prototypes or introductions from Hitachi, Sharp and Sony all emphasized almost fashion-model thin depths of HDTVs in several formats

Hitachi showed a 32-inch LCD prototype using an brand new backlight technology (as yet undisclosed) that could be introduced in Japan during 2009, according to Daniel Lee, marketing VP of Hitachi America, who was visiting the show. The prototype may be shown at International CES in January but its U.S. debut has not been decided upon as yet.

It is 1.9 cm thin, and should make its Japanese market debut probably in the second half, said Makoto Ebata, president/CEO of Hitachi’s consumer business group. Larger sizes, such as 42 inches and 50 inches, are being considered.

Ikuo Yuki, GM of Hitachi’s digital A/V products division, said the technology has been planned and considered for the past three years with actual engineering being done in the past year.

Sony caused quite a stir with the introduction of its XEL-1 OLED TV, an 11-inch diagonal thin-screen unit to be sold in Japan on Dec. 1 for around $1,725 each.

There was no word as to when the format might come to the United States, however, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it at Sony’s International CES booth in Las Vegas come January. Sony showed a 27-inch prototype here, along with a plethora of 11-inch units for dramatic effect.

OLED screens are comprised of LEDs that use an emissive electroluminescent layer using a film of organic compounds. The OLEDs are deposited in rows and columns onto a carrier panel using a printing process. Light is emitted directly from each pixel, and the pixel matrix will emit light of different colors.

The primary benefit of OLED displays over traditional LCDs is that OLEDs do not require a backlight to function, and draw less power during operation. Eventually, OLED displays are expected to be more efficiently manufactured than LCDs and plasma displays.

The displays are also generally brighter and thinner than the current LCD and plasma screens. So far, screen sizes have been small and used primarily in handheld devices such as cellphones and portable media players.

Sony said it expects to be able to produce the 11-inch panel in quantities up to 2,000 units per month. Sony Electronics U.S. president Stan Glasgow told TWICE the OLED TVs will have a lifespan of about 50,000 hours, comparable to most LCD and plasma TVs.

The screens on the new OLEDs will measure just 0.11 inches (3mm) thick at their thinnest point, the company said.

And Sharp showed a series of 52-inch LCD screens with thin-bezels and a 2 mm (main display section); 29 mm (thickest part) thickness. The contrast ratio is 100,000:1, color reproduction is 150 percent of NTSC color gamut and weight is 55 pounds, according to a press release here. Annual power consumption, becoming a bigger factor all the time, is 140kWh per year. — Additional reporting by Greg Tarr