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Yet another new TV technology! … It’s a real headache having to choose whether to go for an LCD or Plasma flatscreen, then along comes another … OLED.

So what’s so good about OLED, why is it worth our attention and ever our money?

Back to Basics …. What’s OLED?

Lets start with the basics, OLED stands for: Organic Light Emitting Diodes. LEDs surround us in every day life these days, you’ll find LEDs used in a number of ways, in many of your devices in your home, for example they exist in digital clocks, forming the digits to indicate the time and also provide a way of visibly indicating whether your electrical devices are powered on or in standby. The difference here is the O in OLED, which refers to the use of organic materials, these materials make up a thin film and when an electric charge is applied they then create light …. Here OLED.

How OLED Technology Is Used Within The Television.

Now for the techy part …. We’ve established that OLED is based on paper thin sheets of organic materials. These sheets, typically polymer plastic, are placed within the display. Images are then produced from these organic materials which illuminate as a result of the small electric charge being applied.

OK great, but what does this mean to the average consumer? …. Well, here’s the interesting part …

Each pixel (Pixel = digital picture element) has its own light source, without a need for a backlight. If you consider that traditionally the rear of a TV would contain the backlight, with OLED there is no need. This now means that we can have truly ultra thin TVs, with OLED we are talking millimeter thinness!

What about picture quality?

The picture quality is where these TVs really separate them from the technologies we’ve become accustomed to. When choosing a TV and assessing a good display you should focus on the contrast level, since the target for manufacturers is to achieve the blackest contrast level possible and at the other end of the scale the whitest (lightest), this then creates a greater contrast of colors in between. Above all else black levels are very important. An LCD TV possess good black levels but utilizes a white backlight behind the display which manufacturers work pretty hard to hide. Your old widescreen TV, which probably weighs more than your body weight, would have had black levels deeper than current LCD screens, however space saving flatscreens and the option of high definition make the LCD an attractive advance in technology.

OLED provides black levels far more advanced than your old, weighty widescreen. It does this by completely turning off individual pixels when producing black, since each pixel has its own light source. The pixels completely turn off in different areas of the picture, improving image quality and as a result consuming less power. For those of you who enjoy figures, OLED technology gives an astounding display with a contrast ratio of 1,000,000: 1, consider this against the best LCD screens which contrast levels are of 50,000: 1 you can begin to see that we are dealing with a whole different ball game! With superior picture quality, crisper and brighter displays you get a very wide viewing angle of 180 degrees through which the picture does not degrade or distort, this means you can be very flexible where we place the TV in the home and how you tilt the display .

What are the other advantages of OLED over LCD and plasma?

– OLED TVs are more light weight and cost less to manufacture due to the technology being less complicated than LCD or plasma.

– As touched on before OLED TV will save on your energy bills due to the way they operate.

The Concern

All these great points make OLED seem the perfect TV technology, however there is currently a downside. A concern with the life span of OLED TVs is present. Reports suggest that the picture can fade severely after a few thousand hours of watching. Currently Kodak claim that they have solved this issue with an OLED TV that has a lifespan of around 65,000 viewing hours. This technology is still being perfected by manufacturers so expect this challenge to be overcome in the near future.

Sony XEL-1 – The First OLED TV On Sale

Sony is the first manufacturer to release this type of TV, which is now on sale for around $ 2500 Dollars currently. The Sony XEL-1 is a world first with a screen measuring 11 inches, it is impressively thin at 3mm and weighs just 1.9kg. Although the screen size is not exactly large enough to be the center piece of our homes, we can expect that as the technology develops larger screens will inevitably appear. Samsung are reported to be manufacturing a 40 inch shortly.

The Future

So The future of OLED TV is bright (excuse the pun), however OLED technology is not just limited to TV, it is essentially a light source and its uses can be expansive and exciting. Imagine the end to the light bulb as we know it. Talk of OLED technology replacing the light bulb filament is real. It is possible that the traditional light bulb could be replaced by a thin sheet of polymer, offering full dimming capabilities and great efficiency. Imagine screens which bend, curve and fold for handheld devices and large displays, add to this see through screens for heads up displays in cars, its all possible with OLED.

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