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How thin can TVs get?

Flat-panel TV as thin as just 6.5-millimeters at the International Consumer Electronics Show

  • Samsung Electronics plans to unveil a flat-panel TV that's as thin as just 6.5-millimeters at this week's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it said Sunday. The TV set is between 6.5mm and 7mm across its width and has an LED (light emitting diode) backlight.

  • LG Display is on the verge of beginning commercial production of a 15-inch OLED (organic light emitting diode) panel that's suitable for use in televisions and laptop computers, the company said. The screen is just 1.4 millimeters thick and is expected to go into production in June this year. OLED is an emerging flat-panel display technology that uses an organic material in the pixels that emits its own light, so a backlight isn't needed. That helps make the displays thinner and much less power-hungry. OLED screens also handle fast-moving images better and offer richer color reproduction than current LCDs (liquid crystal displays) and PDPs (plasma display panels).

  • The demos of the latest and greatest in TV tech from Samsung, JVC and LG at this year's CES made it clear that thinness is the latest battleground in the competitive flat-panel TV business.

  • JVC joins the race to thinner flat-panel TV by unveiling a prototype 32-inch television that's just 7-millimeters thick. The TV set is one of the thinnest yet developed and, like a similar prototype that Samsung Electronics showed, benefits from the use of an LED backlight. The backlight sits behind the LCD panel and generates the light that shines through it to allow the image to be seen. Most LCD panels use thicker backlights that make use of fluorescent lights but LEDs are fast finding favor with TV makers for their thinness and better overall light.

  • The compact design has led to other benefits too, said JVC in a statement. The prototype TV weighs 5 kilograms. JVC doesn't currently offer a comparable 32-inch set but models from Toshiba and Sharp weigh 13.5kgs and 15.5kgs respectively.

  • Until now that record was held by Europe's Philips, which unveiled an 8mm prototype LCD television at the IFA electronics show in Berlin last year. At the same event Sony took the wraps off a 9.9mm set that has already gone on sale and is the thinnest LCD TV available in retail stores.

  • The backlight sits behind the LCD panel and generates the light that shines through it to allow the image to be seen. Most LCD panels use thicker backlights that make use of fluorescent lights but LEDs are fast finding favor with TV makers for their thinness and better overall light. The Samsung TV stands at present to be the thinnest LCD TV yet demonstrated.

  • The first commercial OLED television, Sony's 11-inch XEL-1, was launched at CES 2008. Several other competitors have followed with prototype OLED TV sets but to date no other company has followed Sony into the commercial market. LG Display said it's in talks with sister-company LG Electronics about putting the screen in a commercial product. Sony's XEL-1 carries a price tag of around US$2,500 making it a tough sell to many consumers at the best of times and even more so during a recession.

  • It can also be made using 10 percent fewer LCD module parts and 50 percent less material resources. The switch to an LED backlight from fluorescent lighting eliminates mercury.

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