LAS VEGAS –
Although the pickings for revolutionary new and “real” TV products at International CES have been arguably slim in recent years, the 2012 showcase proved to offer up a few enticing big-screen morsels, and even some promises of actual market introductions by the end of the year.
AMOLED TV technology – offering razor-thin panels, rich color saturation, and deep contrast and black levels – has been dangled in front of CE-starved audiences since Sony introduced its $2,500 11-inch XEL-1 AMOLED TV in 2008.
The 3mm-thin, 960 by 540 resolution small screen established a small buyer’s market but created great anticipation for the new AMOLED technology before Sony finally halted production in 2010, as analysts pointed to issues with a limited panel lifetime (17,000 hours to half brightness by some accounts) compared with 100,000 hours for some LCD and plasma sets.
The technology was also said to suffer from uneven aging of colors, with DisplaySearch reporting that after 1,000 hours blue luminance degraded by 12 percent, red by 7 percent and green by 8 percent.
But the display did establish an eager potential market, with early adopters anxious to see newer and larger screen sizes.
LG, Samsung and Sony all addressed this demand at International CES with offerings that were curiously similar, yet different at the same time. Toshiba also once again demonstrated an AMOLED TV but offered no introduction plans.
Both LG Electronics and Samsung introduced their own versions of 55-inch AMOLED TV sets, with both saying they plan to bring the products to market before the end of the year.
Sony, meanwhile, stepped a little farther out of the box when it showed what it called a 55-inch CrystalLED, billed as “the industry’s first 55-inch FullHD self-emitting display.”
Sony’s new technology is based on wire bonding three inorganic RGB LEDs per pixel (one for each sub pixel) on the front of the display.
As for the new AMOLED introductions, LG’s 55-inch unit was based on white OLED using an RGBW color filter and LG’s Color Refiner technology that the company said will produce natural, accurate and consistent colors with optimal panel sharpness. A special algorithm was also developed to improve viewing angle while further refining hues and tones.
The demo model 55EM9600 included a pedestalstyle design with the electronics built into the base to achieve a minimum 4mm panel depth.
The set was said to weigh 16.5 pounds.
In contrast, Samsung’s 55-inch AMOLED panel was based on red, green and blue OLED sub-pixels and measures less than 0.3 inches deep. Electronic circuitry is housed in an outboard box to achieve maximum panel thinness.
Samsung said the technology produces richer and more accurate color saturation while improving viewing angle and reducing motion blur, compared to LCD TVs.
Meanwhile, Sony said its CrystalLED approach dramatically improves light-use efficiency and produces images with 3.5 times higher photopic contrast, 1.4 times wider color gamut, and 10 times faster video image response compared to existing LCD panels.
Sony was careful to say the prototype was only a technology demonstration and there were no current plans for a market introduction.
A spokesman had no information on the viability of production efficiency compared to AMOLED screens, and could not say if Sony was now leaning more toward CrystalLED than AMOLED for its display technology of the future.
Also unanswered were questions about the potential longevity of the inorganic LED display compared to AMOLED technology.
For its part, LG also unveiled an 84-inch “4K” LEDbacklit LCD TV that was pitched as offering the ultimate high resolution 3D viewing experience when paired with LG’s Cinema3D passive-glasses system.
LG’s 84-inch Full HD 1080p 4K (called “ultra definition”) LCD TV, boasted 3,840 by 2,160-pixel resolution, Cinema 3D (passive glasses), smart-TV features and a Magic Motion remote with voice control.
LG did not say exactly when the set would ship to dealers or at what price.
Also in on the next-gen-tech action was Sharp, which once again showed its 8K by 4K ultra-definition LCD display as a technology statement, with no finite marketing plans.