Last night I went to a launch party to see Sony’s new collection, fresh from CES 09. Sony was obviously keen to impress the assembled journalists, PRs and celebs and had hired a cavernous, disused tram shed in trendy Shoreditch for the night. There was a light installation by artist Paul Cocksedge, an arty short film directed by BAFTA award winner Tal Rosner shown on TVs suspended from the roof, and colourful cocktails flowed all night long – Sony really knows how to throw a good party. DJ-ing fashion designers Giles Deacon and Henry Holland provided the music, and I got chatting to Connie Huq of Blue Peter fame – oh, the glamour.
Sony launched four new products: the ZX1 – the world’s thinnest LCD TV so far; the Z4500 – a TV with ‘Motionflow’, a feature that means moving pictures are smoother than ever; the XEL-1, Europe’s first ultra-thin OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) TV; and the EX1, a TV that can also be used as a wireless picture frame for digital photos.
The super-thin ZX1 LCD TV is impressive and great for hanging on a wall, but it’s the XEL-1 OLED TV that really excited me. Sony launched OLED TVs in Japan and the US last year, and they’re different from all other TVs so far because they don’t have backlights – instead, they contain organic particles that glow on their own when electricity is passed through them. It’s a process called – wait for it – electrophosphorescence, which is how fireflies glow. The fact that scientists can now replicate this glowing means that our TVs can be thinner than ever before – the XEL-1 OLED one I saw last night was literally 3mm deep! I wrote about the imminent European launch of an OLED TV in the January issue of Ideal Home, but I didn’t know who would be first to release one, Samsung or Sony. Sony pipped Samsung to the post, and the image quality is amazing. Sadly, I won’t be rushing out to buy a flashy new OLED TV – they’re £3,489 – and the screen size is a tiny 11 inches! I can’t help thinking Sony is taking the mickey a bit, as the same XEL-1 OLED TV is for sale in the US for $2,499 – that’s just £1,750! Over the next few years, prices will fall and screen sizes will increase, and pretty soon OLED will be the norm. Ellie