Buying a flat screen TV: Will 2010 be the year of OLED?

Buying a flat screen TV: Will 2010 be the year of OLED?

Take a trip to the shops today and you'll see two main types of flat panel televisions on the shelves - plasma and LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). But will 2010 be the year OLED televisions storm our lounge rooms?

The general consensus is that the best plasmas look better than the best LCDs, but LCD has come a long way in recent years - with advances such as 100/200Hz refesh rates, RGB LED backlights and Matrix-lit backlights closing the gap on plasma.

Over the last few years there has been a lot of talk about the potential for OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) to replace LCD. Unlike traditional LCD televisions, OLED panels don't require a backlight - which means they can offer blacker blacks (and thus greater contrast) while chewing through less power. It looks like OLED will even offer better contrast and colour reproduction than plasma.

This could be the final nail in the coffin for plasma after it lost the marketing war with LCD (thanks to Sony) and key players such as Pioneer abandoned the plasma market despite making perhaps the best televisions money can buy in the awesome Pioneer Kuro plasmas.

Dream thin: Sony's OLED TV
Dream thin: Sony only has one 11 inch OLED TV on sale in Australia right now

OLED might show a lot of promise, but unfortunately it has been very slow to come to market - mostly due to price and manufacturing complications. The delays have also supposedly pushed back the release on the Apple tablet.

Right now Sony has the only OLED television on sale in Australia - a tiny 11 inch television with a hefty $7000 price tag. OLEDs should get slightly bigger and cheaper in 2010, with the possibility of competitors such as LG dipping their toe into the market.

Even so, it doesn't look like the size and price of OLED televisions will rival LCD and plasma for a few years yet. OLED will remain in early adopter territory for a while and, if you've got $7000 to spend on a television in 2010, you'd be better off looking at a big Pioneer Kuro plasma (if you can get one) or a Sony XBR LCD.

Buying a flat screen TV? Have a question you'd like us to answer? Add your comments or questions about flat screen TV issues to the discussion below.

Also in this series, How to Pick a Great Flat Screen TV, And Not Get Sucked In By Marketing Hype:
Part 16: Super-thin TVs come at a price
Part 15: How big a TV is too big?
Part 14: Should I care about refresh rates?
Part 13: How do I compare HDTVs in the store?
Part 12: Hiding your television
Part 11: calibrating your television
Part 10: those pesky upscaling issues explained
Part 9: video inputs and future proofing
Part 8: Logitech Harmony vs AV Link remote controls
Part 7: Should you upgrade your TV for DLNA?
Part 6: TV tuners and "Digital Capable"
Part 5: HDMI and component ports
Part 4: LED and backlighting
Part 3: Screen size
Part 2: Refresh rates
Part 1: Brightness and contrast ratios

Also see our 5 tips for buying a digital TV set top box

And also see the lowdown on Freeview, and whether you should care
If you're new to Digital TV, or have yet to make the leap, start by reading Prepare yourself for Digital TV



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