Sony to mass produce flattest screens

Sony will begin mass production of full-color organic light emitting diode (Oled) displays next year.

Sony will begin mass production of full-colour organic light emitting diode (Oled) displays next year.

It is considering using the technology across a range of the company's portable devices with screen sizes up to 10in (25cm).

The first device to use Oled technology will be the high-end Clié PEG-VZ90 personal digital assistant, which will go on sale later this month, according to company spokesman Takashi Uehara.

The technology provides a brighter, thinner and more responsive screen for the VZ90, Uehara said.

The Oled screen is nearly three times as bright bright as precious LCD screens used on Sony PDAs. Oled displays do not require backlights. The VZ90's Oled is 2.14mm thick compared to 3.49mm for Sony's standard LCD with a backlight.

Oled also offers faster response time and better contrast. Response time is 0.01 milliseconds compared to 16 milliseconds for Sony's LCD; contrast ratio is 1,000:1 compared to 100:1; and the Oled has 180-degree vertical and horizontal viewing angles, while a Sony LCD screen of the same size has a 130-degree vertical and 125-degree horizontal viewing angle.

Oled has long been seen as a potential replacement technology for LCDs for small screens and several major Japanese companies, including Seiko Epson and Sanyo Electric have expressed interest in the technology.

Sanyo is considering using the technology on mobile phones, digital still cameras and PDAs, but will not commit to the technology because of technical issues related to screen quality, spokesman Hayato Hirata said.

Seiko Epson plans to develop Oled technology for televisions and other entertainment applications by 2007 and earlier this year showed a prototype 40in Oled display, which was the largest Oled yet shown by any manufacturer.

But the company also says it has development and technical hurdles to clear before it adopts Oled widely.

Although Sony has yet to make an official announcement, Oled could start replacing LCD screens in digital still cameras, digital video cameras and even small thin clients from 2005, said Uehara.

Sony will not produce the displays at its ST Liquid Display joint venture with Toyota, as some reports have indicated, but at Sony's Microsystems Network Corporation, Uehara said.

Paul Kallender writes for IDG News Service

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