About the only thing OLED has in common with LCD and plasma is that it's a flat panel display with sub-pixels for Red, Green and Blue.
NAB attendees are generally well advised to stay away from dark alleys. But we can make an exception when the alley in question is the side aisle of Sony's massive booth and the reason for low ambient light is to show off a new monitor, the PVM-740, Sony's first professional monitor with Organic LED (OLED) display technology. In a particularly nervy head-to-head comparison, the new 7.4-inch monitor (viewable area, measured diagonally) was shown next to a comparably-sized BVM Series CRT monitor and a third-generation LCD model. The comparison, as they say, was no comparison. OLED has arrived.
Performance that will spoil you for anything else
The PVM-740 has a picture that will rivet the attention of even the most grizzled industry veterans. Here in one place is the resolution, brightness and flat-panel gee-wizardry you associate with LCDs, combined with contrast and black level beyond anything you knew and loved from the golden age of CRTs.
Sony's Gary Mandle guides you through the latest display products at NAB 2010, including the OLED-based PVM-740.
Organic Light Emitting Diodes
Organic LEDs are semiconductors made of organic chemicals, the same stuff as living things. Sony's first foray into large-scale OLED video display was the XEL-1 LED television, an 11-inch consumer model (viewable area, measured diagonally) followed by the HDVF-EL100 professional viewfinder. OLED develops phenomenal black because each pixel is a semiconductor that, when switched off is completely off. There's no bias current as with CRTs. There's no leaking backlight as with LCDs. Even when parts of the screen are bright, adjacent parts can be completely black. At NAB, Sony had the confidence to demonstrate the PVM-740 head-to-head against a BVM monitor with city-at-night shots of skyscrapers and dramatically lit bridges against a deep black. The winner was OLED.
OLEDs also switch brightness values with effortless speed, unlike LCD crystals which need to twist and untwist in a viscous fluid. Unlike plasma displays, which can be prone to comet-tailing, OLEDs pixels can go dark just as quickly as they get bright. This was also featured at NAB, where Sony ran some crazy fast high-contrast text crawls across the screen. The razor sharp performance of the OLED said all you'll need to know about its panel switching speed. The PVM-740 isn't afraid of anything.