The Future of TV is XEL-1

Dennis Faas's picture

Imagine a television set so thin that you could roll it up and carry it in your knapsack or briefcase. That kind of technology is not as far off as one might think.

Sony is currently selling a concept television set in Japan that is about an eighth of an inch think, or just over 3 millimetres. The sets are intended to replace the back-lighting of typical LCD televisions which make up the perceived "bulky" frame. (Source:

The new televisions use a thin film that glows with colors and can even be viewed from the side. The Sony XEL-1 owes its saturated colors and super-slim frame to the technological advancements made in the field of organic light-emitting diodes called OLEDs.

OLEDs are produced using organic chemicals deposited onto film that shines brightly when a current passes through them. LCDs use fluorescent bulbs that require more space and thus constitute the bulkier frame. (Source:

The XEL-1 sets are the first mass-produced flat-panel televisions in the world to adopt the new technology. Up until now, OLEDs have only appeared in a few cell phones and portable video players.

Analysts believe that televisions using OLED technology will not pose a threat to LCD televisions. This is because LCDs sell for the same price as OLED televisions and LCDs remain a popular choice amongst consumers due to name recognition. Most consumers in the West have not even heard about OLED televisions.

Still, OLEDs have their fair share of technical advantages. LCDs typically use white light filtered into primary colors which are then remixed to produce the images we see on TV. The breadth of the color spectrum that you see in the natural world is lost through this process. (Source:

OLEDs, on the other hand, emit their own light and have the potential to be produced very cheaply.

The XEL-1 is already being sold in stores all across Japan, retailing for close to $1,800 USD. Sony has revealed that release and pricing in the United States will begin sometime in January 2008.

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