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CES 2008, Revolution, or Evolution?

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  • CES 2008, Revolution, or Evolution?

    CES 2008, which wrapped yesterday in Las Vegas, offered more than the usual glimpses of a future that is coming on fast. The trends that stood out for me:
    • Although LCD panels look on the surface to be winning the “flat” display race, some intriguing new options are coming on line–and some older ones are raising the bar with features that LCD is not ideally suited for.
    • The LED-based illumination trend that is revolutionizing the theatrical lighting world is coming to displays–even to video projection.

    On the flat display front, CES brought the usual forays into higher res from–who else–Sony. Sony has been floating 4K resolution at shows for several years, and at their booth, the most impressive new technology for my book was a 4K resolution LCD panel. Is 4K necessary for commercial AV-installed boardrooms, or for digital signage? Never say never. Case in point: Sony’s demo had the 4K panel showing, in one segment, four 1080P images on one screen.
    But the star of the Sony booth was the “the industry’s first Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) television in the United States,” according to Sony. The 11-inch diagonal XEL-1 model is 3 millimeters thin and offers picture quality with extremely high contrast. “The launch of an OLED TV is one of the most important industry landmarks,” said Randy Waynick, senior vice president of Sony Electronics’ Home Products Division. “Not only does the technology change the form factor of television, it delivers flawless picture quality that will soon become the standard against which all TVs are measured.” Nice thought… and, indeed, at the Sony press conference, I stood side-by-side with jaded AV journalists who were in awe of an 11-inch screen. Hard to believe. It was all due to this OLED panel’s remarkable contrast ratio. 1,000,000:1, supposedly. It looked like it, and this contrast ratio fooled a lot of folks in attendance into thinking that the image was “sharper” (it wasn’t; in fact, there were some fuzzy edges), more “high-resolution” (it was 1080P, no big deal these days). Sony also had a prototype 27 inch model on display.
    Display gurus have been anticipating OLED for years. The OLED display panel uses low power levels since the light-emitting structure of the panel eliminates the need for a separate light source. This could be a market-driving factor as governments seek to impose energy standards on gear.
    Sharp said at CES that they are exploring OLED, but also alluded to problems with the technology. The expected life of an OLED screen is just three to four years, said a Sharp executive at CES, and they added that they won't consider an OLED display product until its expected lifetime is at least 10 years. It's also difficult more difficult to mass-produce OLED panels in the large sizes, but this is at the end of the day a chicken and egg question. Economy of scale follows market acceptance.
    Samsung also showed two OLED screens at CES, 14-inch and 31-inch units, but said that they don’t plan to market for at least another year or so.
    In the Display world, the other technology that has been coming on is LED-based illumination. Not to confuse with big LED walls (Barco, Lighthouse, etc) where one LED emitter = one pixel. I’m talking about using just a few each, turbo-charged/high brightness Red, Green, and Blue LEDs as an alternative to a lamp, for a flat panel or for a video projector.
    We’ve seen the demos at CES for a couple of years, of LED-based LCD panels. And of course, Samsung has been selling LED-based DLP HD televisions for several years. (Using just one each RGB LED’s in place of a bulb for a one-chip DLP engine eliminates the need for a color wheel.)
    After seeing these LED-based LCD panels and LED-based DLP TVs at CES for several years, I got a different perspective this year when I went to a private demo in a suite at the Mirage, of the technology at the heart of these systems.
    Luminus Devices showed me a variety of both consumer and professional display products illuminated by their PhlatLight LED technology, including large screen LCD backlight units, projection TVs and several categories of front projectors.
    With fewer LEDs required, the PhlatLight technology reduces the cost and complexity of large screen LCD backlighting, enabling enhanced brightness and color uniformity over the life of the TV. Because it is edge-illuminated, it also enables thinner LCD TV designs.
    They also showed PhlatLight-powered LED DLP TVs from Samsung.
    The new 67” model from Samsung, which was also on display at the Samsung booth and at the TI/DLP booth, is the largest LED-illuminated rear projection TV available. (These new models are the third-generation LED DLP TVs illuminated by PhlatLight LEDs… Samsung has in fact been selling these units in mass at Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.)
    Most intriguing, Luminus showed a home theater front projector prototype powered by their LEDs, producing over 700 ANSI lumens, and the front projection system is on track to break the 1,000 lumen barrier in 2008. This could enable home cinema front projector manufacturers to provide the benefits of LED technology, which include “instant on” operation, ultra high contrast, uniform brightness and wide color gamut performance with the elimination of the need to replace lamps during the life of the product.
    David Keene, Executive Editor, Digital Signage magazine

  • #2
    Nice coverage

    Glad this media is out there for a noobish guy like me to read through. I have gained valuable inf from this site/fourm already....

    I would like to have attended this show but was unable due to other considerations, it would be nice if we could get a show highlights and lowlights type article.


    • #3
      David, next year if you return to CES, make sure you swing by our booth (MTI). Sorry we missed you this year. Here's a link to my recap from the show: