Despite claims last month that Sony would still continue production of the XEL-1 OLED TV for markets outside Japan, supplies appear to be running thin.

I was inspired to do a quick check after speaking to a salesperson a Sony Style location in Toronto. I asked if the XEL-1 was still available and he replied that it was not.

Online, it seems that those of us in North America looking for the first OLED TV may be out of luck.

Sony USA – Add to Wishlist (for the last few months)

Sony Canada – The product you are looking for could not be located, please check the name and try again.

However, outside North America , your chances are better.

Sony Australia – Still in stock, for $7,000

Sony U.K. – May be available at your local Sony Center

If anyone else has anything to add to this quick survey, please leave a comment below. Thanks.

 

Saying that demand for the XEL-1 OLED TV is slowing in Japan, Sony is stopping OLED TV sales there.

They say that overseas sales will continue, but having tried to order one of these, there doesn’t seem to be too much inventory available. Full story exerpts below from Reuters.

“Sony said it had stopped production of ultra-thin TVs using organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology for Japan, just a little over 2 years since it launched its first set. It plans to keep selling the TVs in overseas markets, a spokesman said.

OLED displays use organic, or carbon-containing compounds that emit light when electricity is applied. They produce crisp images and do not need backlighting, making them slimmer and more energy-efficient than LCDs, the most popular type of flat TV.

Sony has aimed to become a leader in the technology and positioned the product as crucial in its drive to regain its reputation as an innovator after losing out to Apple Inc in portable music and Nintendo in video games.

“I want this world’s first OLED TV to be the symbol of the revival of Sony’s technological prowess. I want this to be the flag under which we charge forwards to turn the fortunes around,” then president Ryoji Chubachi told a briefing in October 2007.

It is still technologically difficult to make large OLED panels and to produce them cheaply, limiting their potential as a mass-market product. Sony’s only model is an 11-inch set sold for 200,000 yen ($2,222) in Japan, considerably smaller and more expensive than other flat TVs.

“As flat panel TVs are getting bigger and cheaper, hurdles for OLED models have become higher, at least in the short term,” said Hisakazu Torii, vice president of Japanese TV market research at DisplaySearch.

Torii said the next big trend in the market will be 3D TVs and LCD TVs using light emitting diode backlights, and that mass adoption of TVs with OLED panels is some time off.

Sony said it would end sales of OLED TV in Japan when inventory runs out. It plans to continue putting money into research and development and production for North America, Europe and other overseas markets.

“We will continue to consider new products and applications including OLED TVs,” Sony spokesman Shigenori Yoshida said.”

 

There’s a fascinating interview with Tetsuo Urabe of Sony’s Display Device Development Group on Sony.net

He and three others recently received the  55th Okochi Memorial Award for major contributions to the field of production engineering, including the development of production technology, and the implementation of advanced production methods. This was of course for their work on the development of the Sony XEL-1 OLED TV.

Some of the topics covered are:

  • Creating an OLED Suitable for Television Use
  • Successful Development of 13-inch OLED Display in 2001
  • Challenges in Establishing Mass-production Technology
  • Enhancing Japan’s Competitiveness with OLED

This interview is a must read for all OLED TV enthusiasts. Check it out at the link above.

 

Despite high hopes for any OLED TV with a screen size larger than the 11″ Sony XEL-1, none are forthcoming.

Both Panasonic and LG have announced in the last year that they would have 37″ and 15″ OLED TVs available within the next year or two but I’ll believe that when I see it.

Samsung just  told European journalists at its 2009 European Forum that consumers expecting an OLED television from the company anytime soon shouldn’t hold their breath.

“We still have several issues to overcome in terms of cost and production”, said a HS Kim, vice president in charge of Flat Panel Development at Samsung when asked when the company would be releasing an OLED television.

Confirming statements made earlier by Kim in 2008, the big cheese at the company’s TV department said “It will be four or five years before OLED is mainstream”.

The company recently showed off Samsung OLED TV prototypes at CES in Las Vegas in January.

With the recent cancellation of the Pioneer Kuro Plasma TV line, there is a real gap at the top end of flat panel displays. Who will fill it? Canon with SED TV? FET with FED TV? Wait and see. I don’t see too many new OLED TV reviews coming this year.

Thanks to pocket-lint.com

 

There’s been lots of hype on OLED TV from CES 2009. A 27″ Sony OLED TV, a 40″ Samsung TV, a 15″ LG OLED TV.

However, the only OLED TV available is still the amazing but tiny Sony XEL-1. It is definitely a pioneer in OLED TV technology but is not a realistic option for most consumers.

Here’s a video clip of the OLED TV portion of the Sony press conference at CES 2009.

Here’s another showing the Sony 27″ OLED TV.

However, many observers expected Sony to release the 27″ model this year. Apparently that’s not going to happen now. I expect that the current economic climate and the still high production costs are going to prevent any new models except for the 15″ LG OLED TV from appearing in stores this year.

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