Think Tech: The Future of Electronic Displays

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are thin, bright, and energy-thrifty.


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Photo Credits: Image courtesy of Sony

If you've looked into buying a TV lately, you are familiar with the alphabet soup that seems to come with choosing even the most basic model: HDTV, 1080p, LCD, NTSC, and more. But before you give up the whole thing in frustration, here's one more acronym that could make your choice a lot easier: OLED.

The innovative thing about OLEDs (for organic light-emitting diodes) is that lots of tiny OLEDs can be "printed" onto a single big sheet, allowing engineers to make a digital display that uses less power than a plasma screen and offers higher contrast, a wider range of viewing angles, and richer colors than an LCD screen.

Already used in cell phones and other small devices, OLEDs were not initially employed in TVs because of a short life span of only a few thousand hours of use. But now Sony has announced the XEL-1 (pictured above), the first OLED-based TV. Currently available only in Japan and the United States, it has a price tag of almost $2,500 and a modest 11-inch screen. Still, if OLED manufacturing continues to improve, TV screens as large and as slim as those in old home-movie projection systems may become common.

For the latest news on OLED-based products, visit

Photo Credits:

Sporting a 5-by-5-inch OLED display, this touchpad control allows users to command advanced home-theater setups.

Photo Credits:

This brushed silver watch uses OLEDs for a bright digital display that doesn't

need a backlight.

Photo Credits:

A 3G smart phone comes with a large, low-power OLED display.

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