View Full Version : Another choice in HDTV technology... SEDs

12 December 2005, 04:21 PM
Here comes another flat-screen TV

TOKYO (Reuters) - There is little doubt that the world of television has gone flat, but consumers like Yoshinori Mimura are still confused over whether to go for a plasma, rear-projection or LCD screen.

That decision will only get tougher next year when Canon Inc. and Toshiba Corp. launch a new type of flat screen technology called SED, the latest choice for those wishing to trade in their boxy tube TVs.

"I'm really at a loss over what to do," said Mimura, a 50-year-old company employee, as he checked out the newest plasma and liquid crystal display (LCD) sets on display at the Biccamera electronics store in Yurakucho area of Tokyo.

"I'd like to buy one but I'm waiting for the right time."

Mimura, a movie buff, is looking for a TV that's bigger than 40 inches and is leaning toward a plasma model because he reckons they are better than LCDs at reproducing moving images and generate a deeper black, which important for films.

But he could also hold out for a SED TV that, proponents claim, can deliver a crisp picture with rich blacks, vivid colors, quick response times, low power consumption and a wide viewing angle -- essentially combining the best traits of plasma and LCD technology, with none of their shortcomings.

Technologically, SED is the holy grail of the flat TV industry -- images just as sharp as a traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) TV in a thin, flat form. Whether its manufacturers can actually make a profit on it, however, is another story. SED stands for surface-conduction electron-emitter display, and is very similar to CRT technology in that a picture is generated when electrons fired from the back of the set collide with a phosphor-coated screen to emit light.

But instead of using three electron guns, SED technology employs an array of hundreds of thousands of tiny electron emitters -- one for each pixel on the display.

While the CRT structure requires that electrons are beamed from deep in the back of the set, the SED's emitters can be arranged on a rear plate located extremely close to the phosphor-coated front, allowing for a much slimmer TV.

Canon, better known for its cameras and copiers, started researching SED technology 20 years ago and joined hands with Toshiba in 1999. They formed a joint venture in 2004 and plan to invest about $2 billion to develop and make the panels in Japan.

"We have big plans for the digital television business," Canon chief executive Fujio Mitarai said at an exhibition in Paris in the fall.


It is easy to see why Mitarai is so optimistic.

Flat TV sales have already surpassed CRT in Japan and the global market is expected to quadruple to about 100 million units by 2009, according to DisplaySearch, as prices fall rapidly and access to digital and high-definition broadcasting spreads.

Mitarai has said he would like to have a SED TV on the market by spring of 2006. The first set will be a 55-inch model, putting it in direct competition with plasma and to a certain extent LCD sets, which are encroaching into the 50-plus range.

But analysts say Canon will be hard pressed to profit on the venture anytime soon. SED is a wonderful technology, but capital investment is heavy and it will be years before output is at levels that ensure earning a decent return.

Merrill Lynch analyst Ryohei Takahashi notes that South Korea ('s Samsung Electronics Co. is aiming to get the price of a plasma set down to $20 per inch by 2008. That would mean $1,000 for a 50-inch TV, one-fourth current prices and a mighty hurdle for a relatively new product like SED.

"Making a profit in that type of environment will be very difficult," said Takahashi, predicting it might be 5 years before Canon gets the business out of the red. "But Canon has plenty of money and can stay in the game for 10 or 20 years."

The reality is that most flat TV makers are unable to keep up with high materials costs and as set prices fall 30 percent per year. Plasma TV giant Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and top LCD TV maker Sharp Corp. are among a select few in the black right now.

Takahashi said Canon has proven that it can make a high-quality 36-inch SED TV, which the company has been showing to the public at exhibitions, but it has yet to unveil the 55-inch model that will be going up for sale.

"I don't think there are 1,000 people in the world that have seen the 55-inch TV, so no one can really comment on the picture quality. There are still concerns that the production process is quite difficult for the large screen," he said.

But if Canon can get production kinks worked out and the picture is as sharp as it claims, indications are SED could give plasma and LCD a run for its money at the high-end.
Mimura said his ideal TV should be able to meet full high-definition (HD) specifications, meaning they are able to produce images at the highest standard of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels -- a standard that will be satisfied by the SED.

Price isn't everything. Mimura said he would be willing to shell out 500,000 to 600,000 yen (US $4,300 to $5,200) if the TV was right.

"The picture has to be nice," he said.

I am most fascinated by this because I remember reading about thsi technology almost 10 years ago and now it looks like it is finally coming to market. And it looks like finally a worthy technology to replace CRTs.

12 December 2005, 10:11 PM
What about OLED's then? And could SED tech be used for computer monitors as well or would the display be too coarse for close viewing?

12 December 2005, 11:11 PM
I don't see why they couldn't be used for larger computer monitors... and actually their speed and color reproduction might make them even better suited for a computer monitor than a TV... but in all honestly both types of displays are totaly converging and I think within a few years they will really be one-in-the-same.

I thought OLEDs were being used in those flexible displays that have cropped up the last couple of years. Not sure though.

12 December 2005, 11:48 PM
OLED's have their own limitations. They offer greater contrast ratio than LCDs, but if I'm correct they're limitations right now are life span. This is the first I've read anything on SED's.

Here's an 40" OLED Samsung Prototype (
I thought there was a size limitation as well. Guess they got around that.

12 December 2005, 06:44 PM
They seem to have gotten past that obstacle as well:

CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom, 12th December 2005 - Cambridge Display Technology (CDT) [Nasdaq: OLED] announces two major milestones in the development of long lifetime, high efficiency light emitting polymers for full color, video capable displays.

A phosphorescent red device has been produced by CDT and Sumitomo Chemical which has a lifetime* of half a million hours from an initial luminance of 100cd/m²; this is a record for lifetime of solution-processable materials of any color. The efficiency is also improved at over 7cd/A. Red efficiency is especially important as this color consumes the largest share of power input in a color device, so improvements in red efficiency have important practical implications.

The second major milestone announced is a lifetime of 150,000 hours for a fluorescent blue device based on a new material developed by CDT, and now part of the Sumation™ portfolio. Just eighteen months ago, CDT announced the achievement of 30,000 hours lifetime for fluorescent blue. The efficiency is also the highest recorded for a blue polyfluorene material at 10cd/A.

The new blue material yields very good color values and efficiency. The OLED industry has come to regard progress on blue materials as a key indicator, since this performance dictates the range of full color applications which can be implemented. The progress announced today gives a strong indication that the technology is moving rapidly to satisfy the requirements for applications including large display screens.

These new materials are fully printable - a major advantage of polymer OLED technology over other OLED technologies. They are also compatible with each other and could be combined in the same device.

30000 hours lifetime (by lifetime they mean halving of luminance), that's almost 6 years, working on the monitor 14 hours each day......not too bad.

I think OLED's biggest advantage over SED is it's potentially much cheaper to produce. You can use existing ink jet technology to "print" the OLED's. So right from the start, they could be producing screens at lower cost than even LCD panels.

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