Sony's Stringer Promises 27-inch OLED TV 'fairly Soon'

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Sony plans to launch a much larger version of its impressive OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) television within the next year, CEO Howard Stringer said Wednesday.

Sony launched its first OLED TV, an 11-inch model, in late 2007. The set, which also has the distinction of being the first commercial OLED TV in the world, won great acclaim thanks to the smoother, sharper and more richly colored images it offered over today's LCD (liquid crystal display) and PDP (plasma display panel) technologies.

At the same time Sony began showing a prototype 27-inch OLED screen and last month in Tokyo showed an OLED screen that was just 0.3 millimeters thick. Stringer, speaking at The Wall Street Journal's "D: All Things Digital" conference in Carlsbad, California, on Wednesday, introduced the thin prototype and talked about commercialization.

"This is 0.3 millimeters wide, it's a glass, we can produce this in plastic and you can wrap it around your arm, we're not quite sure why you would want to," Stringer told Walt Mossberg, a columnist for the newspaper and co-host of the event. "We're looking for applications for the next generation of the plastic version but this will come out in a 27-inch version fairly soon."

"Within the next 12 months, we haven't given a date," he said when asked to be more specific on timing.

Stringer didn't give much away when it came to pricing. The 11-inch model, which Sony calls the XEL-1, carries a relatively high price-tag of US$2,500.

"It's a complicated process and obviously we are working very hard to find out how to mass-produce it but until then it's very expensive," said Stringer.

Stringer's reference to a plastic OLED panel was to a prototype announced by the company in May 2007. Then it showed a small 2.5-inch OLED manufactured on a plastic substrate. The screen has a resolution of 160 pixels by 120 pixels and showed full-motion video while being bent and rolled.

Sony hasn't announced any sales targets for its OLED televisions but said earlier this month that it plans to sell 17 million LCD televisions in the fiscal year from April. That's a jump of about 7 million sets on the previous year. Sony hopes to achieve this by producing more models for the mid-market based on panels it will procure from Sharp. High-end sets will continue to feature panels produced by S-LCD, the LCD panel manufacturing joint venture it has with Samsung Electronics.

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