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Samsung Builds World's Biggest OLED TV

By Jay Lyman
Jan 4, 2005 1:44 PM PT

Today's technology announcements typically involve smaller and smaller components, computers and other gadgets, but Samsung this week touted the "world's largest" television based on organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology -- a 21-inch flat panel display.

Samsung Builds World's Biggest OLED TV

While Samsung has addressed common OLED issues such as power and resolution with an active matrix (AM)-based OLED, analysts emphasized that the 21-inch screen was merely a demonstration and still a long way from the consumer market, where traditional liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma technology are among the hottest commodities available.

Nevertheless, the future does look bright for OLEDs, which may offer benefits over other technologies, including price, flexibility and durability.

TV Target

Samsung said its 21-inch OLED display features 6.22 million pixels in wide ultra-extended graphics array (WUXGA). The OLED offers brightness of 400 nit, contrast ratio of 5,000:1, color gamut of 75 percent and fast response times, making it ideal for high definition video, Samsung said.

While OLED technology has been used for smaller displays on mobile phones, digital cameras and similar devices, its use for larger television screens has been held up by technological issues as well as cheaper competing technologies.

"With the development of the world's largest OLED at WUXGA resolution, Samsung has achieved a technological advantage and is positioned well to be a leader in the large-sized OLED for the TV market," said Jun-Hyung Souk, Samsung senior vice president of LCD research and development, in a statement.

Lagging Behind

Recent research from Texas-based DisplaySearch indicates that LCD and plasma display panel (PDP) are the most popular flat screen technologies today.

DisplaySearch, which just released its quarterly market report, said LCD TV shipments exceeded expectations in the third quarter of last year, rising more than 100 percent over last year to 2.2 million units shipped.

As for plasma screens, DisplaySearch reported that shipments reached 714,000 units with strong growth in North America and Europe. According to DisplaySearch analysis, Samsung was the number four worldwide television seller behind Sony, Philips and market leader Sharp, which had 28 percent market share as of the third quarter 2004.

OLED Hurdles

Gartner research Vice President Martin Reynolds said OLED technology is still limited to niche status. Beyond small hand-held device displays, he said, the longevity issues with the organic cells used in OLED displays will continue to hamper their progress.

"It's really a concept demo," Reynolds told TechNewsWorld. "It will be some time before we see OLEDs having an impact since they're not even [fully developed] on cell phones."

Reynolds said OLEDS demand far more power and can deteriorate faster than today's LCDs and plasma screens.

"OLEDs do have technical problems, but the problems will be solved -- just not in the next year or two," Reynolds said.


DisplaySearch Senior Vice President Barry Young told TechNewsWorld that although there have been other announcements of prototype OLED TV screens, the Samsung OLED was produced with the amorphous silicon technology, which translates to larger, better displays.

"What this says is they will be able to build large in OLEDs," Young said.

Young credited OLED technology with higher performance, including faster response time, wider viewing angle with high contrast, and better black images that are off instead of hidden. He said OLED screens do not need backlight, making them even thinner and reducing material costs for manufacturers.

However, Young also said today's OLED technology -- which averages 10,000 hours until it becomes half as bright -- still lags behind the 30,000- to 50,000-hour lifespans of today's large televisions.

Young believes OLED displays will be in play within three to five years. "[OLED lifespan] has jumped from 5,000 to 10,000 in the last year," Young said. "Samsung expects this around 2007 to 2008. By then, the lifetimes will be sufficient to meet public demand."

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