Best of CES: Sony CLEDIS Micro-LED Display at CES 2017

Sony CLEDIS

One of the most impressive displays on the show floor at CES 2017 is the Sony CLEDIS (Crystal LED Integrated Structure) system. The company showed something like this years ago in a conventional TV form factor, but it quickly disappeared. Now, it’s back with a vengeance.

The basic idea is an emissive video display in which the red, green, and blue subpixels are microscopic LEDs. How microscopic? A red, green, and blue LED measuring only 3 square microns sit in the middle of a small black area—and the LEDs occupy less than 1% of that area, meaning the screen is over 99% pure black! These units are grouped into tiles that can be assembled into just about any shape and size.

The display on the show floor measures 32′ x 9′ and consists of 144 modules with a combined resolution of 8Kx2K. I was given special permission to get up close to the roped-off screen, and even with my eye less than an inch from it, I could barely discern the pixel structure.

According to the rep I spoke with, its black level is even deeper than OLED because of the black backing around each LED triplet and the fact that the LEDs can be completely turned off. At the other end of the dynamic range, it can achieve a peak luminance of 1000 nits with a full-screen white field, which the demo includes—and believe me, it’s almost painfully bright. In addition, it exhibits absolutely no blooming, which even OLED can’t claim. Colorwise, this amazing display can reproduce almost all of the BT.2020 color gamut, and it maintains absolute image integrity over a 180° viewing angle.

I was stunned at the clarity and brilliance of the images, which included cars changing their color to demonstrate a decision-making application, slow-motion dancers and fighters on an infinitely black background with showers of fiery sparks, and super-colorful animation that popped right off the screen. I saw no motion blur, blooming, or other artifacts normally associated with video images. Many CES attendees joined me in marveling at the material through several loops, unable to tear ourselves away.

As you might expect, this technology is very expensive, though Sony would not reveal how much—which, of course, depends on how large a screen you want. CLEDIS is primarily intended for corporate applications, such as visualizing industrial designs, which result in billion-dollar decisions, so cost is virtually no object. But it could certainly be used in a megabucks home theater as well. In many ways, this is the ultimate display technology—at least until we have Star Trek holodecks.