September 14, 2004 10:45 AM PDT

Sony begins mass production of OLED screens

Sony will begin high-volume production of next-generation displays using organic light-emitting diode technology.

The consumer electronics and entertainment conglomerate announced on Tuesday in Japan that starting this month, it will produce OLED panels and use them in a new Sony Clie handheld device, the PEG-VZ90. Sony has stopped producing handhelds for every market except Japan. Many analysts had expected Sony to delay its OLED display production over technical issues.

The display will measure 3.8 inches diagonally, offer a resolution of 480 pixels by 320 pixels and will be able to project 262,144 colors. Its viewing angle will be about 180 degrees, according to the company.

Materials in an OLED display emit light when an electrical current is applied. Because of their luminescent nature, OLED displays don't require a backlight, consume less power and can result in thinner screens than LCDs, currently favored in the flat-panel industry.

Although analysts expect the market for OLED technology to grow from a multimillion-dollar to a multibillion-dollar industry by the later half of this decade, they don't expect it to unseat LCDs anytime soon. OLED displays are currently used in smaller devices, such as digital cameras, cell phones and electric shavers.

Sony has been aggressive in investing in display technologies, including OLED and LCD, for use in its consumer electronics devices. Sony has teamed with Toyota Industries to produce OLED displays. The joint venture, ST-LCD, currently produces LCDs.

Sony has also entered a joint venture with Samsung on an LCD company called S-LCD. Sony's goal is to create large LCD panels so that it can have a steady supply for its growing LCD television business. The LCD market has recently been very volatile, affecting margins on the TV for the company.

 

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