Tuesday, April 10, 2007


LCD's and Plasma's have had their commercial run for over a decade now. Compare that to CRT's, which have been in mass production since 1922, have a long history of performance, and had just as much time to evolve. Despite huge advancments, neither of the newer technologies have quite been able to match the top of the line CRT's picture quality. Both LCD and Plasma have their own unique and common problems which prevent them from being perfect. Ghosting, smearing, blurring, dead pixels, burn-in, black levels, color depth....the list goes on. Admittedly, these issues have been improved in newer models, but for now, they are still there.

For a few years now, rumors have surrounded two future technologies that had promised to bring the image quality of high end HD CRT's to the shape of a large flat panel. The top of the line CRT's still hold the award for best picture quality. But they have two major problems. The largest size is 34" in the widescreen (16:9) format, and they measure and weigh a ton! SED was the first technology to make this promise, but because of the patent dispute between Canon and Nano-Proprietary Inc, SED technology has gone back under the table. FED or Field Emission Display technology was the second (It's important to note that, SED technology is a simplified, and cheaper to produce variant of FED technology, and was originally scheduled to make its debut first).

Field Emission Display technology was adopted by Sony in early 2004, and has since been in research and development. Not much has been seen or heard, until now. Finally for the first time, we get to lay our eyes on the FED prototypes.

It's difficult to really get a sense of the picture quality here, but the similarity between CRT's and FED is apparent here as the photos pic up the scan lines on the monitors.

The technical specification are obviously subject to change, but the prototype's that were shown here had the following specs:

19.2" screen , 1280×960 resolution, and a 30" screen with a 1920x 1280 resolution. Features include 400cd/m2 brightness, a pixel pitch (dot pitch) of 0.306mm, 15V low power consumption, and a commendable 20,000: 1 contrast ratio. A big one, is the fact that these screens introduce 1:1 pixel mapping which means that every pixel of resolution displayed on screen has it's own physical place on the panel. With CRT's being analog in nature, geometry is a problem because some of the edges of the screen would be cut off, this makes HD CRT's a bad choice for computer monitors as it would require severe tweaking and adjusting to get the picture to "fit" the screen correctly. With an LCD for example, everything fits a lot better as they are digital and pixel based.

The picture above shows an FED display paired against a CRT studio broadcast monitor, but again, we can't tell too much from the picture. Sony hopes to start mass production by 2009 and is aiming to start with 50-60" screens, 100,000:1 Contrast Ratio, 1080p resolution and eventually, an affordable price range. They may also be marketed under Sony's Trinitron branding, as after all, in their most basic form, these are essentially flat panel CRT's.

Looking at the diagram above, you get a basic sense of how the technology works. With traditional CRT's, there is one big electron gun which fires outwards and passes through the phosphor layers to create the image. With FED, there is an electron gun for EACH pixel. The little yellow cones in the diagram above demonstrates this.

The technology is very promising, and if it delivers up to its claim, it WILL be the premiere choice against Plasma and LCD. But as with most marketing promises, we'll just have to wait and see how things measure up. We've still got a good couple years to go before we start seeing production models, so in the meantime it's time to start bargain hunting as Plasma and LCD prices are going down!!!

Picture Source: Impress Watch Corporation, Japan


Anonymous said...

No freaking way. Where did this come from?

Martizzle said...

Just when I thought I was settled for SED. I think i'm just going to get a 1080p LCD to hold me off.

Jack Bauer said...

Hard to tell what it's going to look like. But a big screen CRT sounds promising, although that's quite a claim.

Anonymous said...

Please stop! No more new display types, my head is going to explode!!!!

Damian74 said...

Looks like they turned up the brightness when comparing against the CRT monitor.

*Doobie* said...

Yup, I'm glad I saw this, as I'm definitely getting an LCD now. It will take at least 2-3 years before these are available and I want something "good" to hold me off till then.

Also I wanted to point out that not all CRT's are good. As the post says, I would stress "HIGH END CRT's" when comparing to LCD and plasma. The Sony XBR960/970 being the best available to consumers.

Anonymous said...

I actually own the 960, which can display 1400 lines of resolution. I also have the 52" XBR LCD. The tube KILLS everything I've ever thought about purchasing, including the 52" XBR.