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OLED TVs to Hit Mainstream in 2011

Want an OLED TV without mortgaging your home? Wait two years and it may be possible.

For the last year or so, OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) televisions have been on the minds of home theater lovers everywhere. With amazingly high contrast ratios and a thickness measuring in the millimeters, OLED TVs certainly look like the future of home theater. However, price is a major hurdle for the technology to overcome. Sony still charges about $2500 for its 11-inch XEL-1 OLED TV, making a small tabletop HDTV cost nearly twice as much as many 42-inch LCD TVs.

While new technology always comes with a heavy price tag, some are expecting the price of OLED lighting to come down some time in 2011. DisplaySearch predicts that active OLED lighting will become mainstream in two years, and its revenue will surpass that of passive LED lighting sometime around 2018.

According to DisplaySearch's Jennifer Colegrove, OLED lighting production is still in the sampling stage. However, she points to companies like General Electric, Konica Minolta, and Philips starting mass production in 2010 or 2011. Like any other technology, increased mass production and subsequent decrease in part costs leads to lower prices for the end user.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in OLED lighting, especially in Europe, the US, and Japan," said Dr. Colegrove. "Although OLED displays have been in mass production for about a decade, OLED lighting just started sampling and small volume production. This is due to the fact that OLED displays and OLED lighting face different challenges." It is important to point out that the OLED displays Colegrove refers to are passive OLED displays. Passive OLED technology is slower than active OLED, with the latter now being used in larger displays like TVs. Passive OLED displays can be found in smaller devices like phones and MIDs.

With the price of active OLED tech coming down, expect to see larger OLED TVs on convention showfloors in the near future. Who knows, maybe your next TV purchase down the road will be a 42-inch OLED TV.