Sony Announces OLED TVs

As expected, Sony has announced its plans to ship its XEL-1 OLED TVs later this fall. The sets weigh less than five pounds, and are just 3 mm thin; that’s a bit more than a tenth of an inch. The screens are only 11″ diagonal, which is small by any standard, even for a standard definition display. And that’s exactly what these sets are. They only have 940 by 540 pixel resolution, which is a wide format of standard resolution.

The XEL-1 may not be high definition, but it sure is priced as if it were. The price is reported to be 200,000 yen, which translates to about US$1,750. That’s nearly twice the price of some 42″ LCD HDTVs, one of which would have the screen area equivalent to about 15 of these tiny displays. Not that you’ll have to worry about spending so much for so little; Sony is only going to make 2,000 units a month (if they can sell that many), and the new sets will go on sale only in Japan, starting December 1.

These displays looked stunning when they were demonstrated at CES last January, but as good as they may look, they really don’t mean much at such a high price and low production volumes. It looks as though it may be a long time before OLED turns into the LCD-killer that many hope it might be.