News and Reviews....

    Here Comes SED !   Sept. 2004

 By Robert Lieto

    Just when you thought you had it all understood about the latest TV Displays. When you finally sorted all the facts out and came up with your preference for your future, whenever that might be, TV. Just when you thought you had it all covered a new kid on the block emerges. A TV that claims CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) picture quality in a slimmer form factor. 

     It seems that Canon and Toshiba are forming a new company called SED, Inc.. SED stands for Surface-Conduction Electron-Emitter Display. Canon & Toshiba have put together a $1.8 Billion venture and expect to produce their first 50 inch glass panels by next summer. Just as Plasma panel prices are falling and LCD sizes are gradually scaling up, officials believe to begin marketing the SED next month (October 2004) to the public. They also believe to have a volume production fab operational by 2007.

    Tadashi Okamura, president and CEO of Toshiba, said that the large-sized flat-TV market , with about 1.5 million units in the world this year, "is still immature." Both companies expect the operation to turn out more then 3 million 40 - 50-inch panels annually by 2010. The market for flat-panel TV's in those sizes is expected to be under 30 million units annually by then, with Plasma panel shipments, expected to total 18 million in 2010. Plasma would be the closest competitor to the SED technology.

    The SED panel basically has a CRT-like structure but replaces the electron gun with electron emitters. The electron emitter has a plane structure and a emitting area that consists of an ultra fine palladium oxide (PdO) particle film layer, electron layer and Glass Substrate. There is a slit in the PdO film layer that is several nanometers wide. Appling voltage on the electrodes in this tiny slit creates a tunneling phenomenon that emits electrons, which are accelerated to hit a phosphor-coated glass substrate on the opposite side. Sounds Simple. The result is a wall-mounted display with a thickness measured in centimeters. What's more, the SED provides color reproduction, viewing angle and video response equal to a CRT, but achieves a contrast in dim light of 8600:1, said to be nearly three times higher then the best dim contrast of (PDP) Plasma Display Panels. In addition the SED's display emission efficiency of over 5 lumens/watt is much higher than the 1 to 2 lumens/Watt of PDPs. The prototype 36" Panel requires about half the power needed for PDPs' and LCDs when it displays movie content and one-third of PDPs and LCDs when showing news content.

    Analysts remain skeptical that a technology with only one key supplier can achieve the cost reductions and production yields needed to drive sales in a price-sensitive consumer market.

    The two companies are not taking any chances by putting all their eggs in one basket. They believe that the LCD will be the competition and have capabilities of 40-50 inch screens, and so have made their venture a two prong strategy by announcing that they would establish a joint LCD fab in January of next year (2005) with Hitachi Ltd. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd.. The fab will produce LCD TVs 26 to 37 inch panels with 37 inch being their biggest.


UPDATE: (Nov  2004)  The prototype 36" SED TV was unveiled at the Japanese Electronic Show called CEATEC. The set claims a contrast ratio of 8600:1, 300cd/m2 brightness and one third the power consumption of a comparable plasma display. Additionally, it claims to better handle fast-moving images, graphics and color accuracy. Consumer models are now expected in 2006. Although the SED promises to be competition for the Plasma (PDP) and LCD sets of today. It was predicted by a Panasonic Company president, that PDP will be the dominant technology by the end of the decade. He went on to say that micro-displays (projection) are temporary and LCD will fall due to inherent manufacturing costs.

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