Report: Sony to Sell OLED TV in Europe in 2009

Sony will expand sales of its 11-inch OLED (organic light emitting diode) television to Europe in 2009, according to a Japanese press report.

Detailed launch plans for the TV, which went on sale in Japan in December 2007 and in the U.S. in January 2008, including its price are yet to be determined, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported in its Wednesday morning edition.

OLED is an emerging flat-panel display technology that uses an organic material in the pixels that emits its own light, so a backlight isn't needed. That helps make the displays thinner and much less power-hungry. OLED screens also handle fast-moving images better and offer richer color reproduction than current LCDs (liquid crystal displays) and PDPs (plasma display panels).

Sony didn't confirm the report but said the XEL-1 television has received a positive reception from consumers in Japan and so an expansion of sales into other markets is being considered.

Should Sony decide to launch the set in Europe the announcement could come as soon as the IFA trade show, which begins on Aug. 29 in Berlin and is Europe's largest consumer electronics show.

Sony's XEL-1 has won broad praise for its thinness and bright, vivid images. But at around ¥200,000 (US$1,829) in Japan and around US$2,500 in the U.S. the TV set remains too pricey for most consumers. For Sony to significantly expand sales it will need to increase production from the current 2,000 sets it manufactures per month but technical hurdles remain as OLED is a new technology and production processes are still being refined.

Several of Sony's competitors are also working on OLED screens.

Panasonic is working on the technology and a recent report said it plans to have a set of around 40-inches screen size on sale within the next three years. Toshiba has also said it plans to launch a 30-inch-class OLED set but hasn't provided details while Samsung has also been showing OLED panel prototypes.

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