Citing unnamed sources in the component industry, DigiTimes claims Apple has already stared developing its second generation iPad. As the report goes, the Cupertino company plans to outfit the followup device with an OLED panel and is shooting for a 2011 launch.
That's probably wishful thinking, even as panel makers put more resources into OLED production. The technology's high cost has prevented it from marching into the mainstream, and even for a $500 to $900 tablet, it seems unlikely that a pricey OLED panel would be part of the package.
Nevertheless, the sources insist that OLED prices are falling and will drop significantly enough that Apple could use them on the next gen iPad. We remain highly skeptical. According to Mingchi Kuo, a senior analyst with DigiTimes Research, the current price of the 9.7-inch LCD panel for the iPad runs about $60-$70. By comparison, an OLED panel of the same size would cost about $500. It's tough envisioning that kind of price gap narrowing significantly by 2011.
If OLED's the future, where does the technology fit into the present? Not anywhere, according to Sony, at least when talking about high definition television sets. Sony announced plans to end sales of OLED sets in Japan until costs come down.
Probably a good idea too, considering the only model Sony released was an 11-inch set that commanded roughly $2,222. That's barely larger than most netbooks, but a whole heck of a lot more expensive, to state the obvious.
This doesn't mean that Sony is turning its back on OLED technology in general, the company just wants no part in selling obscenely overpriced displays. Instead, Sony said it will focus on research and development, and may even dabble in overseas production.
"We will continue to consider new products and applications including OLED TVs," Sony spokesman Shigenori Yoshida said.
OLED displays are widely accepted to provide some of the best image quality money can buy. The problem is that it does take a lot of money to buy them. The current generation of manufacturing tech means that small OLEDs, like the one found on the Nexus One, are really at the upper limit of cost effectiveness. A start up called Kateeva wants to change that. They are developing a system for printing OLED displays.
Kateeva’s manufacturing process has been shown to be capable of printing 1.8 by 1.5 meter OLED displays. They estimate the costs to be roughly 60% of current methods. Don’t get too excited yet. The OLED printer is set to be tested by display manufacturers next year. Just imagine, in a few short years you may be tossing out your tired old plasma or LCD HDTV and buying an OLED version.
Touchscreen digital cameras are all the rage (just ask any teenage girl who's seen Ashton Kutcher pimping a Nikon Coolpix), and while that isn't new territory for Samsung, the company's upcoming CL80 boasts a few new tricks.
Electronista describes the CL80 as "Samusng's first real connected camera," which points to the model's Wi-Fi connectivity to upload photos to Facebook, Flickr, Photobox, and Picasa without having to sync up with a PC.
The CL80 will also sport a 3.7-inch AMOLED touchscreen display with haptic feedback, a 14MP sensor, a 7X wide-angle lens, and hardware image stabilization. And of course it will come ready to take H.264 videos at up to 720p.
No word yet on price or a projected release date, both of which are likely to be revealed during CES next month.
It's too early to say the OLED revolution has begun, but it's probably a safe bet that you'll see a lot more OLED products in 2010, at least if the end of 2009 is any indication. According to research firm DisplaySearch, worldwide OLED revenues "shattered its previous record" climbing to $252 million in Q3 2009, up 31 percent from the previous quarter.
DisplaySearch attributes much of the growth to Samusng, who the firm says maintained its strong lead in OLED shipments and captured 73 percent of the AMOLED revenue market share.
"While the mobile phone industry continues to suffer as a result of the economy, Samsung’s marketing initiatives have propelled high-end AMOLED mobile phone demand to new heights," noted Hiroshi Hayase, DisplaySearch Director of Small/Medium Displays. "The company is forecast to maintain its lead in mobile displays in 2010."
Not doing so hot is PMOLED, which DisplaySearch says didn't grow from 2008 to 2008, largely the result of the shift from clam-shell type phones that use PMOLED to higher-end smartphones that use OLED.
Coming as somewhat of a surprise, Kodak announced it is selling all the assets of its OLED business to a group of LG companies.
OLED technology hasn't yet hit its stride, but is gaining steam, particularly in the handheld market, as prices continue to come down. Kodak, however, isn't turning its back on OLED completely. Through a signed cross-license agreement with LG, the company will still have access to OLED technology, and both will have broad access to each other's patent portfolio, TGDaily reports.
As part of the license agreement, Kodak will also receive royalties, through the company didn't say how much. This and other financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
It looks like the ever-elusive Apple tablet will stay out of sight a little longer than last planned. According to the latest chatter from component makers, Apple plans to postpone the launch from next March to sometime in the second half of 2010.
Apparently Apple has decided to fiddle with its component selection, including a model that will launch with a 9.7-inch OLED panel from LG. Another model said to be in the works will sport a 10.6-inch TFT LCD panel.
Outside of the rumored panel choices, we still don't have any information on what hardware Apple plans to use, but the chatty sources were able to estimate a price. Most 9.7-inch OLED panels run about $500, which typically makes up about 30 percent of the device's total cost. That being the case, Apple's tablet could end up commanding $1,500 to $1,700, the sources say. However, those figures are based on today's prices, and OLED panels are dropping in costs. By the time the second half of 2010 rolls around, the Apple tablet could drop to $1,200 to $1,500, based on the above scenario.
As for the 10.6-inch LCD tablet, sources expect the device to cost anywhere from $800 to $1,000.
Organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, are often touted as the next big thing in display technology, offering brighter colors, true black, lower power consumption, and better off-axis viewing than traditional LCD screens. They’ve popped up in gadgets from high-concept to mundane: The infamous Optimus Maximus keyboard, for example, utilizes many tiny OLED screens in its programmable and customizable keycaps, and both Sony’s new X-series Walkman and Microsoft’s new Zune HD have OLED screens. OLED technology has made great strides in the past 10 years, and cheaper and better manufacturing processes mean they’ve started appearing in everything from media players to phones to high-definition televisions—even keyboards. But what are OLEDs?
During the FPD show in Japan, LG laid out its future plans for OLED displays with a roadmap that extends into 2016. And according to Wom Kim, LG's sales and marketing VP, that's the year OLED panels will cost less than LCD displays, providing it can leap over a handful of technological hurdles.
"We will be able to use a lwo-temperature polycrystal silicon with the sixth-generation size glass substrate," Kim said. "However, for 40-inch and larger panels, we have to use the eight-generation size glass substrate.Therefore, we have to develop equipment that can deal with an SPC process at a temperature of more than 700C."
Despite the challenges facing low-cost OLED displays, Kim believes his company will be able to transition from 50 percent higher material costs and 30 percent lower yields compared to LCDs in 2012, to a 20-30 percent lower material cost and equivalent yield in 2016.
Up until then, don't look for too many deals when it comes to OLED.
"Forty-inch and larger OLED panels will be fairly expensive in 2012, but they will be available in the market," Kim added.
Common sense dictates that most displays don't fare well under water, and that includes OLED technology. Or at least it used to. According to Kodak, OLEDs "are notoriously moisture-sensitive," so kudos to Kodak for demonstrating its flexible display under water.
The quirky demonstration consisted of a small flexible OLED screen submerged in a cup of water surrounded by Playmobil people. A fish (what else?) swam across the display just under the water line. Aside from the gee-whiz factor, a flexible underwater display opens the door to some innovative designs.
"Fleixble OLEDs have the potential to be a game-changer for the display world, realizing a unique form factor at lower cost," Kodak said. "They also have broad applications in the lighting industry."