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They have a refresh rate about 1,000 times faster than a traditional LCD, so they will be far superior for video applications. They have fewer parts than LCD or plasma and can be manufactured using a novel ink jet printing process. This promises to keep prices low as technology is implemented. It is expected to see sub 20" displays in stores by 2006 with larger units following one to two years later.
Other promising display technologies on horizon include SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display) and carbon Nanotube. SED was developed by Canon, who began research into technology in 1986. SED is basically same principle as CRT, however there are important differences. The most important from a consumer standpoint is thickness. An SED display is only an inch or two thick, depending upon screen size.
The basic construction is two glass plates separated by a vacuum. One of plates is coated with phosphors other is mounted with electron emitters. Electrons are ejected when a voltage of about 16 to 18 V is applied to emitters. These electrons are then accelerated by a higher voltage into a beam similar to that in a CRT display.
The visual advantages of SEDs are as for CRT displays, great color, deep black levels and quick motion response. These advantages, combined with slim form factor, low cost and small power requirement should make for a real winner.
A unit shown by Toshiba at a Japanese trade show in April of 2005 even had it’s contrast ratio up to an incredible 100,000 to 1 by significantly reducing black luminance. Even if specs were a bit inflated this would still amount to a fantastic contrast ratio, on order of 5 times that of a traditional CRT. Toshiba has indicated they will move to this technology for all displays over 40” by 2006.
One fly in SED ointment however. On April 21st, 2005 US firm Nano-Proprietary has filed a suit against Canon in U.S. District Court of Western District of Texas, alleging that surface (SED) televisions that Canon plans to release violates a licensing agreement signed 5 years ago between Japanese giant and Nano-Proprietary.
The pace of change in home theater and entertainment display market has just kept accelerating. There are some promising technologies around corner that will allow, as usual, higher performance, lower cost and more compact form factors. As prices for advanced technologies plunge and technology improves, it will make it even easier for average person to have a fantastic media system almost anywhere in their home.
Steve has 15 yrs in electronics. He is a CEDIA certified designer with ISF and THX certificates. Experience includes: installer and programmer; system designer; business unit director for an a/v importer; sales rep for a CE distributor; and principal of a $1.5M+ CEDIA firm. He's now senior sales engineer for Digital Cinema Design in Redmond, WA. See him at The Home Theater and Automation Guide