Almost as an aside toward the end of an extensive press conference at CES, Sony CEO Howard Stringer mentioned that Sony had developed a new TV display technology called “Crystal LED.” We were able to find this new TV technology on the show floor. It turns out that it is a direct-view matrix of LEDs, as opposed to an LED-backlit LCD. Most direct-view LED displays have been made for outdoor billboards or large indoor signs. They are meant to be viewed from tens of meters away and have pixel pitches in the millimeters. This one is a 55” HD display, and thus is a greatly condensed version.
The display contains 6 million LEDs (1920 × 1080 × RGB) which may have required breakthroughs in LED device size, mounting, and driving technologies. The performance looked impressive compared to an LCD, and according to Sony’s press release, it has 400 nits brightness, more than 100% of NTSC color gamut, and very high contrast. One might expect this technology to be quite power-hungry, but Sony claims it uses only 70W.
This development, while surely at an early stage, adds some interest to the technology race for large-size flat panel TVs, especially given the buzz around 55” OLED TVs from LG and Samsung. It is also an ironic development, considering that when Samsung first started promoting LED backlights for LCD TVs back in 2009, they positioned it as “LED TV.” We called this into question, and these days most consumers understand that the LED refers to the backlight, not the display. If Crystal LED comes to market, industry might need to re-educate consumers.