Earth-friendly simplicity with OLED and Solar-Panel

oled_panels-1We all love a sandwich, but how often does your sandwich light up from power it has collected itself?  If you’re chowing down on a prototype from the Florida Energy Systems Consortium then it might just do that (though probably not tasting particularly good in the process): they’re working on the idea of layered OLED and solar-cell panels, which would capture sunlight during the day and recharge a back battery plane, before lighting up at night.

As well as reducing space the system would also avoid the need for a power inverter, since the solar-cells output direct current, the batteries store direct current, and the OLED panel runs off direct current.  The FESC reckon it could be ideal for parking lots or other installations where you want minimal maintenance.


MOTO announces OLED tablets range

The MOTO Development Group is no stranger to Android – they showcased an Android-based e-ink prototype a while back – and now they’re cashing in on that familiarity with a number of new devices targeted at developers.  The MOTO Android Media Platform will eventually consist of three models – 3.5-, 5- and 10.4-inches – each with OLED displays as standard, OMAP processors and capacitive multitouch-capable touchscreens.


First to market will be the 5-inch AMP, which MOTO are positioning as ideal for PMP, PND and portable-data-terminal use.  It’ll have an OMAP3430 processor with 256MB each of RAM and ROM, an 8-megapixel camera up front and WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 and optional 3G.  Capable of 720p output via HDMI, the MID has a digital compass, accelerometers and runs Android 2.0.  According to MOTO, it’s available now but you’ll need to get in touch in order to find out how much it costs.

As for the other two models, the 3.5-inch gets an OMAP3630 processor with a 3-megapixel camera on the rear, the same connectivity as its mid-range sibling, and whatever the current Android version is whenever it finally hits the market.  Finally, the 10.4-inch device has Android as an option (Linux 2.6.29 is the standard OS) and gets an OMAP4x processor, FM and GPS in addition to the connectivity of the other models, a front 3-megapixel camera and rear 8-megapixel camera, and a pen digitizer.  Apparently it’ll be available sometime in 2010. 



Large(ish) Scale production of OLED imminent

Could we soon be looking at large(ish) scale, reasonably priced OLED and AMOLED displays?  Probably not, at least when it comes to the pricing part, but both LG Display and AUO have announced mass production plans for their OLED and AMOLED panels, LG expecting to kick-start production in 2011 while AUO claims to be ready to start now.


The AUO plant will be pumping out 14-inch OLED displays, running at Full HD resolution and 157ppi density.  Each display boasts a 100,000:1 contrast ratio and 200cd/m2 brightness, and is capable of 16m colors.  They cover 72-percent of the NTSC color gamut and run at 120Hz.  No news on whether AUO are positioning the OLEDs for TV or laptop use, but we’d quite like to whip out an OLED ultraportable in our local Starbucks.

As for LG Display, they’re planning to begin AMOLED mass production at their new 5G plant in the second half of 2011.  The company will produce 30-inch and above displays in 2011, before shifting to 40-inch AMOLED production in 2012.


Philips Lumiblade OLED lighting

Philips have been showing off their latest efforts in OLED lighting at the “100% Design Fair” in London recently, and while they’re still concepts we’re hoping someone at the company realizes that there’s likely a paying audience out there somewhere – at the very least the Mathmos-loving crowd – and decides to, you know, release some of the darned things.  The Philips Lumiblade concepts range from home to commercial in their application, but all promise low power consumption.


The concepts range from a motion-sensitive “pebble” decorative lamp, through the “Reflections” mirror which automatically dims and brightens squares of OLED light around your reflection.  There are also some vaguely gimmicky “lightbulb shaped” pendant lamps, which seem ideal for accidentally banging your head on.

So far, so good, but we won’t be content until the interesting lighting concepts end up in Philips’ Lumiblade shop.  So far you can buy an “experience kit” with a few differently-shaped panels, but no end-product like you see here.

Philips Lumiblade OLED - Demo Video


LG reveal 15-inch OLED TV to cost $2.5k-$3k

LG have confirmed that their 15-inch OLED TV will be priced at between $2,500 and $3,000 when it launches in Korea this November.  A senior executive from the company has told OLED-Info that, while the flat-panel’s final price is yet to be decided, it will be in the same bracket as the existing Sony XEL-1 OLED TV.

While the Sony is roughly the same price as the upcoming LG, it has a smaller, 11-inch OLED panel.  It’s still expensive, but then if you want a 1.7mm-thick screen running at 1,366 x 768 resolution and with an impressive 100,000:1 contrast ratio, then it’s time to start saving; the LG set is expected to arrive worldwide in 2010.


Cheaper, Larger displays with new OLED inkjet technology


OLED is still the bouncing, potential-filled baby of the display tech world, but manufacturing costs mean it’s still taking its time to replace LCD and plasma in our living rooms.  Startup Kateeva reckon they can change all that, using inkjet printer technology combined with proprietary inks and drying systems to produce large-scale OLED displays that will eventually cost, the company predict, 70-percent of an equivalently-sized LCD panel.

The difference between existing inkjet-style methods and Kateeva’s is in their drying process, which uses a “T Jet” that sits in-between the nozzles and the substrate.  This T Jet aids in precision of the printing process.

“The material is first heated to 100 Celsius to evaporate the carrier liquids. The remaining solids then get heated to 300 Celsius, turned into a gas, and deposited onto the substrate, where it solidifies”

Just as with the desktop printer business, much of Kateeva’s profit will come from actually selling the ink rather than licensing out the technology itself.  They suggest their first, Gen 3.5 equipment will begin shipping in Q2 2010 – enough to print 61 x 72 cm OLED panels – the first step on the way to Gen 8 (more than 6ft per side) processes.


Samsung OLED Laptops by 2010

Samsung is a fan of OLED. We’re seeing it more and more in their manufactured phones, and no one is arguing that it’s the best way to view anything of any kind of importance. And now it looks like Samsung plans to see OLED in the next best thing: laptops. It’s a great idea, and one that we hope to actually bear into fruition. Especially if it hits mainstream, so that way it doesn’t hit everyone’s wallets too much.


First and foremost, if OLED does get enveloped into the fold of laptop screens, then we would see an instant alteration to the current models. Thinner frames (shocking, we know), longer battery life, and of course lighter in weight than ever before. Speaking recently at an event that took place earlier in the week, Kyu Uhm, Head of Worldwide Sales and Marketing for Samsung’s Computing Division, said that the company would look to release towards the end of 2010. He went on further to add that Samsung is the largest OLED manufacturer in the world, and that when it becomes commercially available for laptop displays, Samsung will adopt it, probably sometime Q3 of next year.

The implications are numerous with this one, but all we can do is hope that OLED takes off with more companies than Samsung, so that the technology can be more viable for the market. Even as the TVs start to show up, we’ll get closer to seeing an OLED revolution, and we couldn’t be happier about it.


Introduction – LED TV technology

ledtechnologyLED (Light Emitting Diode) technology has actually been around since the early part of the 19th Century, gaining a certain notoriety in the 70s with the arrival of bright red lit LED watches.

It is the recent integration of LED’s into the familiar LCD flat panel TV however, that marks an exciting new development of a technology which offers the potential for a superior viewing experience.

LCD TV’s have traditionally relied on a fluorescent ‘backlight’ (something like the one in many household kitchens) for their illumination. The problem with this ‘always on’ backlight is that it is difficult to achieve the rich deep blacks that we take for granted on Plasma screens.

Note: LED, LCD and Plasma TV’s all fall into the HDTV (High Definition TV) category.

LED TV advantages

An indication of the depth and purity of black levels produced by this new wave of LED TV’s can be gleaned from the manufacturers claimed contrast ratios (in a nutshell the difference between the brightest white and darkest black that can be produced onscreen). Always to be taken with a pinch of salt, LED TV’s will however invariably claim a contrast ratio of around 1,000,000:1 rather than a figure closer to 50,000:1 for traditional LCD TV’s.

LED TV’s consume much less power than your the traditional LCD TV’s; About 40% less compared to a similar sized screen.

Certain implementations of LED technology produce much slimmer screens.

LED TV’s offer a greatly expanded range of colours (gamut), particularly when RGB-LED backlighting is used.

With the removal of lead from the manufacturing process along with longer life, they are considered more environmentally friendly.

Ultimately, LED TV’s produce sharper on screen images with a greater range of colours, faster response times along with superior contrast ratios.

All LED TV’s are not the same

ledtechnology1It is useful to remember that LED technology in this case is being applied to LCD screens which still rely on LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) to produce the picture – LEDs are simply being used to replace the traditional CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps) backlight.

You may have come across the term OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) which is a more revolutionary TV technology which self illuminates, applying a thin internal layer of LED for the actual display.

Nevertheless, LED backlighting offers real performance improvements over traditional LCD TV’s. Various manufacturers offer subtle variations of LED technology which are already generating a fair amount of debate as to which is the superior implementation.

Edge based LED lighting uses white LEDs arranged around the inside frame of the TV along with a special light diffusion panel designed to spread the light evenly behind the LCD screen. The edge based system allows for much slimmer panels.

LED TV’s using LED Arrays or Local Dimming light the entire rear of the screen, not just the perimeter, which allows various sections of the panel to be more precisely controlled.

A variation on locally dimmed LED TV’s with white LEDs introduced RGB arrays. RGB LED’s use red green and blue to produce an expanded colour gamut. The combined light output from red, green and blue LEDs also produces a more pure white light than is possible with a single white light LED setup.

Are LED TV’s really that good?

 Early indications are that LED TV’s in all of their various implementations produce a superior viewing experience over traditional LCD TV’s while maintaining all of the advantages of HDTV.


LG releases 47-inch 3DTV

lg3dtvhdLG has shown off its latest dip into 3D technology, the 47-inch 47LH50 LCD.

The television is the first of many that LG will be releasing which utilises three-dimensional viewing.

Like most other 3DTVs on the market, you will have to watch movies through polarised glasses to get the full eye-popping effect.


LG is betting a lot on the technology to revitalise the home entertainment market. In fact, it’s hoping that by 2012 it will have launched around 30 million 3DTVs in the market. By anyone’s calculations, that is a lot of TVs.

Earlier this week, LG also showed off a 15-inch OLED screen at an expo in Korea. It’s nice to see that the company not afraid to innovate in what can only be described as hard times for the electronics industry.

It’s just a shame that both TVs will be hitting the Korean market first, with no firm word on when they will be coming to the UK.


What’s new in television technology

The television industry is changing. With high-quality flat panels at nearly impulse-buy prices — a brand-name 37-inch 1080p display, the highest-resolution screen standard, can now be had for as little as $600 — the ongoing price war is losing significance. That’s led manufacturers to compete on new fronts, including energy efficiency, web media- and PC-connectivity, and game-changing technological advancements, such as LED backlighting and OLED displays.

All the buzzwords and specs can get pretty confusing, so we’ve broken out the living room display landscape into three technologies — LCD, plasma and OLED — and highlighted some of the recent innovations and differentiators in each category.

Suffice it to say that shopping for a television is no longer as simple as comparing prices and making sure there are enough of the right kinds of ports.

LCD still leading the way

The biggest news in the world of liquid crystal displays has to do with the impressive strides that manufacturers have made in “greening up” their products and processes to make them more environmentally friendly.

Many current LCD panels from recognizable manufacturers are now almost free of toxic substances, such as lead and mercury. Plus, vendors such as Sharp have streamlined their manufacturing processes to cut down on the carbon footprint generated by supplier shipments. Packing materials have also been drastically reduced, allowing more TVs to be hauled around the world for much less.

But as far as consumers are concerned, LCD technology’s most obvious environmental advancement comes in the form of significantly reduced power consumption. The 2009 models from most major manufacturers — including Samsung, Sony, Sharp, LG, and Panasonic — meet Energy Star 3.0 criteria, with some models exceeding the environmental standard’s efficiency requirements by 30 per cent or more.

Samsung’s Marco Nalli says his company’s 2009 LCDs “are 25 to 30 per cent more efficient than last year’s models,” which results in significant savings in total cost of ownership, especially as energy prices continue to rise.

And as power consumption drops, picture quality continues to improve. Over the past year most manufacturers have begun offering panels running at 240 Hz (hertz being the number of times a frame refreshes in one second). A piece of video typically enters a display at 60 Hz, so a panel running at 240 Hz has to insert three additional frames between each source frame. The best such televisions have processors that predict the action between frames, creating entirely new images to fill the gap between original frames, which can drastically reduce unwanted motion artefacts in, say, sports programming and video games.

Also relatively new to the market are light-emitting diode (LED) panels. These displays employ a novel form of backlighting that makes possible localized dimming, or a decrease in light in specific sections of the screen. This results in, among other visual improvements, enhanced detail in dark scenes.

LED sets have also led to thinner form factors. Some LED panels are only about a centimetre thick, making them thinner than the frames of many paintings and photographs people hang on the walls of their homes.

Beyond tweaks in power consumption, performance, and design, LCD manufacturers are offering more models that have the capacity to connect to a home network. Users can now stream video, music, and pictures from the web or their home computer and set up on-screen widgets that provide immediate access to news, stocks, sports, and weather. They can also download on-demand content.

Think of it as the sort of features traditionally obtained via a television connected to a computer or a special set-top box, but now without that extra box. So far, most manufacturers are offering these features only their higher-tier models, but they’re bound to spread to midrange models before too long.

Plasma lives

While LCD has clearly won its war against plasma (research firm DisplaySearch reported last year that LCD panels were outselling plasma displays eight-to-one), plasma technology is far from dead. It simply plays a lesser role in the market.

Major manufacturers such as LG, Samsung, and Panasonic are still producing and profiting from plasma panels – primarily large screen models with high-end feature sets. And indeed, many cinephiles still tout plasma as the technology preferred by enthusiasts, thanks to its continued strong performance in the rendering of deep blacks and smooth motion (though it’s worth noting that modern LCD technology has made impressive strides towards eliminating these advantages).

Recent innovations in plasma have been less extreme than those in LCD, but are nonetheless noticeable to discerning eyes. Manufacturers continue to tweak the gases that create plasma display pictures to improve their colour reproduction. Panasonic, for example, has been working with Hollywood colourists to enhance the accuracy of its displays, earning THX certification for its premium models.

Panasonic has also introduced 600 Hz technology, which means that its panels refresh each original frame 10 times, resulting, the company’s engineers claim, in unmatched smoothness of motion.

And, once decried as energy hogs, many plasma panels are now surprisingly efficient. Panasonic’s Barry Murray says that one of his company’s current 50-inch sets can cost as little as 1.2 cents per hour to operate given current energy prices in Ontario – though this assumes that the video being displayed is composes mostly of very dark scenes. The Dark Knight, for example, would cost significantly less to watch than Horton Hears a Who.

Aside from tweaks to picture quality and a reduction in power consumption, plasma makers are developing extra features, including the same sort of web connectivity seen in higher-end LCD panels, and, in the case of Panasonic’s new top-of-the line sets, the ability to wirelessly stream 1080p HD content from a transmitter to antennas built into the display itself.

These sorts of perks drive up the price of top-tier plasma sets considerably, but enthusiast television buyers have done nothing over the past decade if not prove that they’re willing to pay a premium for latest, greatest display technology.

A future called OLED

On the horizon for living room displays is a new technology called OLED that many analysts and manufacturers believe will become the de facto standard for home displays inside a decade.

The electroluminescent layer of an OLED display is composed of organic light-emitting diodes, or tiny bits of organic material stored in pixels that can be lit up individually. Consequently, the technology facilitates stunning contrast ratios of one-million-to-one, leading to unmatched detail in both dark and bright scenes.

And since the light source is located within the pixels themselves, the panels have the potential to be remarkably thin – as in just a few millimetres deep. This gives OLED a variety of distinct advantages, from ultra-sleek designs to significantly reduced weight. Indeed, OLED promise a leap forward in video viewing technology as significant as the leap from cathode-ray tubes to flat panels.

“We believe that OLED technology will, over time, one day replace [other flat-panel display technologies],” said Sony’s Patrick Lapointe.

But mass market OLED sets are still years away. Sony unveiled the first consumer OLED screen, the XEL1, last fall. Its display measures just 11 inches diagonally, but it sells for a whopping $2,499.

Experts predict Sony may unveil a living room-sized model later this year, but how much it might cost is anyone’s guess. Still, there’s some hope of affordability within the near future.

“We want to be sure that when we launch larger OLEDs the product will be viable for the market,” Lapointe said.

Representatives from several other television manufacturers have confirmed they’re working on their own OLED displays, but that slow-to-conquer production barriers will keep the technology from becoming affordable any time soon.

Sharp’s Andrew Thompson said that he sees OLED technology going mainstream “in perhaps four to five years.”

Until then, consumers will just need to make do with state-of-the-art LCD and plasma technology.

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