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Toshiba pledges 30in OLED TV will ship in 2009

Rather bigger than Sony's latest

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Toshiba has cocked a snook at the 11in OLED TV Sony announced this week and pledged to bring a 30in model to market effectively within the next two years.

A company spokeswoman yesterday told IDG that the screen would go on sale in 2009.

Sony unveiled its XEL-1 OLED TV in Japan - an ultraslim screen that contains a display panel that's just 3mm thick. That, along with a massive contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, are the big advantages to OLED (organic light emitting diode) technology.

It's all about the backlight - or, rather, the lack of it. Because the diodes themselves emit light, no backlight is needed. That allows the panels to be made much thinner than LCDs and plasma TVs, and since there's no light illuminating even black pixels, the image is brighter and displays a higher contrast. Power consumption is reduced too, partly because there's not always-on backlight, but also because unilluminated diodes consume no power.

The downside: OLED panels don't last as long as LCDs and they're harder to make, which is why Sony's starting out with a small, 11in screen. OLED lifespans are currently rated at around just under three-and-a-half years' continuous usage, compared to under six for LCD technology. That's continuous use, not the much more occasional usage of the real world.

Toshiba is also developing, with Canon, TVs based on SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display) technology, said to produce a picture a bright as an CRT TV's but in a flat-panel casing. However, both companies have had a tough time getting the system out of the door.

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