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Television Technologies: Competitors for the Future
Written by EditorsChoice
Thursday, 27 September 2007

CRT or tube television suited the needs of viewers for several decades. Plasma and LCD came along in more recent years competing for the affections of television buyers. These newer entrants on the market offer a slim design and the ability to enjoy a theater like experience with enormous screens that don't require an entire room for set up. For the millions of consumers still holding out on purchasing a new plasma or LCD television despite their falling prices over the past couple of years, there will of course be other technologies evolve in the not so distant future to further complicate the decision when selecting a new set. Becoming acquainted with at least the names of a few of the technologies on the horizon may help prepare buyers for what is sure to follow in a crowded marketplace.
OLED is the acronym for organic light-emitting diode. The technology was originally developed years ago by Eastman Kodak and is used for both light sources and television. Sony is one of several companies hoping to bring this technology to market. Images are produced via the electro-phosphorescent properties of certain organic materials. No back light is required in an OLED television. In addition to television, OLED may be used on small screens such as on cell phones, MP3 players, and digital cameras. An OLED television (active matrix) will use less power than the average LCD television. They offer a superior range of color and brightness as well as a wider viewing angle. These televisions are lighter weight, thinner, and yet more durable. The most significant drawback to an OLED television in this early phase is their lifetime. The longevity of some of the LEDs (the blue component) is only 3,000 to 5,000 hours at this time. Once manufacturing technology advances are made, it is anticipated that OLED televisions will have a much more competitive lifespan.
SED is a surface conduction electron-emitter display, a technology reportedly being pursued primarily by Toshiba and Canon. SED uses an electron emitter for each subpixel to light up the phosphors in the display and operates similarly to a CRT display. Unlike a CRT television however, SED provides a much thinner and flatter screen. An SED television is said to have a long working life, with only a 10% reduction in emitters after 60,000 hours. They use significantly less power than traditional LCD and plasma screens and possess excellent contrast ratio and brightness. Unlike LCD, an SED television does not experience lag (blurring during fast action scenes) and provides a 180 degree viewing angle. Like early plasma sets however, an SED television may be at risk for burn in. Laser based Television Mitsubishi may be unveiling its new laser based HDTV models by the end of the year. The television is a slimmed down rear projection model that will reportedly rival the space saving design of plasma and LCD screens. Said to be only 10 deep they should not be too imposing in any room. It is also anticipated that they will be lighter in weight, due in part to their lightweight plastic screen versus traditional glass. According to the manufacturer, other attractive features include improvements in picture quality. These sets are said to offer better color content and blacker blacks than current technologies. In addition, this new laser based television reportedly consumes significantly less power and is expected to be priced well below that of similarly sized plasma or LCD screens.
Another potential leader for the future is FED (field emission display). Sony is currently behind the FED push. FED television is said to operate more like a CRT set but offers the flatter, thinner display like LCD and plasma. They use a more efficient emitter (carbon nanotubes) and can therefore create a higher resolution picture than an LCD, use significantly less power than a plasma, and display fast motion without blurring. The good news of course is that the evolution of television technologies should present some options that offer outstanding viewing and yet are affordable for the average consumer. Only time will tell which technologies will actually reach the market and whether or not actual performance will match current expectations.

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