Sony gained a lot of attention recently with the release and sale of its XEL-1, the first OLED-TV, albeit an 11-inch model that sells for $1700 in Japan. At the massive Samsung booth here at CES, Samsung devoted a king’s ransom worth of real estate to show off its latest OLED-TV offerings which includes a 14-inch and a (now you’re talking) 31-inch AMOLED display in the booth.
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Both panels were supplied to the Samsung Electronics America group by Samsung SDI based out of Gyeonggi-do, Korea. We were told by Sr. manager Tae Ill Yoon that the panels are currently made at the Tong Nang factory, but beyond the display size and the fact that these are concept samples, no other technical details were offered.
It is safe to say, from the exhibit, that Samsung does have some form of mass production process in place. In fact Yoon said that his boss, Dr. Dong Hyae Kim will be presenting a paper at this year’s SID conference on their breakthrough process. He also confided that it was using a "cell encapsulation method" and not based on Sony’s new manufacturing process called "Micro Silicon" technology. That process uses a diode laser thermal annealing process (dubbed dLTA for short) to create micro crystalline silicon TFTs.
At last year’s SID, Sony presented three papers on the new process to standing-room only crowds of engineers - this time it’s Samsung’s turn.
But beyond the short-term mass production and OLED material questions we may have for Samsung, the presence of these OLED displays go much further in validating this emissive technology as perhaps the long-term future of large display flat panels.
Just a few booths away, the Sharp folks would not entirely agree, as they were showing their vision of the "near-future" with their ultra thin 1-inch LCD’s which they say will be integrated into mainstream displays produced at the 10th generation (10G) fab scheduled to go online in 2010.
The 1-inch LCD from Sharp is considered by many to be a direct response to the emissive OLED technology threat and the company is demonstrating the ability to push the limits in thickness, brightness, weight and power consumption, in-short, almost every area the "emissive" camp claims as competitive advantage over LCD’s "gating-light" technology. And they are doing so with a track record of mass production, high yields, and above all profitability.
Make no mistake, the future of large display TV is here today, at CES. It’s just that no one knows exactly what that technology will be.