OLED-TV review: Sony XEL-1
Sony's (size-challenged) commercial OLED TV
All hail OLED, the new technology that's set to take the TV world by storm. Well, it was set to actually, apart from this hugely expensive 11-inch Sony (~2,200 USD) and a 15-inch LG that's knocking about in South Korea, OLED has struggled hard to produce working consumer models.
Now seemingly eclipsed by the arrival of 3D, OLED hasn't disappeared altogether and will presumably get its act together at some point over the next couple of years.
But what can an OLED TV do in reality? Sony's XEL-1 gives us a taste of what's to come, but as an 11-inch TV with a resolution of just 960 x 540 pixels, it definitely offers just a taste. Still, plenty of OLED's potential is crammed into the tiny casing. The maximum contrast ratio, for example, measures an astounding 93,913:1, and the black level is a cool 0.00 cd/m². Impressed? We were!
It's tempting to forgive the XEL-1 for its (many) shortcomings because of what it represents the first commercial OLED TV. After all, it blows most TVs out of the water in a couple of respects. But it'd actually be pretty lousy for watching films. With just a quarter as many pixels as a Full HD TV, its resolution is poor for the price. The screen diagonal would be small even on a laptop, never mind a TV, and the video connectivity two HDMIs and an antenna connection is limited, to say the least. The Sony's multimedia capabilities consist only of photo playback via USB.Size matters at least when it comes to finding enough space for video inputs.
And what about the other benefits of OLED? One big benefit we hear of is the improved viewing angle, but there's none of that to be seen here: At 60 degrees, the picture's brightness drops to a pathetic 18 percent worse, in fact, than many LCD TVs released at around the same time.
The promised higher motion clarity, on the other hand, has materialized in the XEL-1: Even in ultra-fast tennis serves, the ball resolves perfectly, without double edges or blur. In fact, the only display that could do better in some pictures was our studio-reference CRT.
So it's a mixed bag in some ways, the XEL-1 lets you sample OLED's potential. In others, it just reminds you of how far OLED has to come before it's ready to take on LCD and plasma for real.Read the full review of the Sony XEL-1 at Televisions.com. Any comments on the device or our review are most welcome. Has anyone seen the XEL-1 in action?