When you get back home after attending a show like CES, the most common question you get asked is: "So, what was the coolest thing you saw?"
This year’s show had a lot to offer and I was pretty impressed by a number of the gadgets being shown. But in terms of sheer visual impact, not even Panasonic’s behemoth 150" plasma TV compared to the prototype OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) TV’s at Sony and Samsung’s booths.
OLED represents the absolute bleeding-edge in display technology. Capable of super high contrast ratios (some have claimed 1,000,000:1), ultra-thin bezels (typically in the 3-5mm range) and gloriously rich colours, these new displays are also energy misers, consuming much less juice than LCD – and far less than the power-hungry plasmas.
These TV’s were simply stunning to behold. The realism of the images was breathtaking. The units that I saw (Samsung’s prototype 14 and 31-inch models) were all running video from Blu-ray players at full 1080p resolution.
The other thing that struck me (other than the sheer beauty of the images) was that unlike LCD or plasmas which seem less impressive at smaller sizes, small OLED’s look better – somehow even more vivid – than their larger cousins. Perhaps this is because, like plasmas, each pixel in an OLED display emits its own light. Whereas LCD displays rely on a single backlight for their brightness. Regardless of how it is achieved, the smaller OLEDs are jewels – I would happily trade my current 19" LCD TV for an 11" OLED.
Currently, Sony is the only company shipping TV’s that use this new technology – and it doesn’t come cheap. Their 11" XEL-1 retails for $2,500 in the US. For now, we’ll have to wait and see if Sony and the others will back up their CES strutting with some OLEDs that the average consumer can afford.