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Sony unveils bendable OLED screen

Flexible display designed for use in portable devices

After launching its first OLED TV, the XEL-1, at last year's CES, Sony chose this year's show to unveil a flexible colour OLED screen, designed to be used in portable devices.

Dubbed the 'Flex OLED' by Sony, the screen is just a few inches across and can be gently bent while it's showing video as it's manufactured on a thin sheet of plastic.

Its appearance at CES marks the first time the screen has been seen outside of Sony's research and development labs and the first time it's been seen live. Sony previously released a video of the screen in May 2007 but the prototype shown had numerous defects - an indication of the early stage of the technology. The version shown on-stage Thursday appeared largely free of defects.

OLED screens have pixels that contain an organic material that emits its own light so no backlight is needed. That helps make the displays thinner and reduces power consumption. OLED screens also handle fast-moving images better and offer richer color reproduction than current LCDs and PDPs (plasma display panels), but they remain expensive to produce.

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The 11in XEL-1 was the World's first OLED TV and costs about $2,500 (£1,645). At this year's CES there aren't any new commercial OLED TVs, but Sony is showing a new 21-inch, non-flexible screen alongside a previously unveiled 27in prototype.

Speaking at a conference in May last year, Sony CEO Howard Stringer said a new OLED TV based on a 27-inch panel would be coming "within the next 12 months." No update on that schedule was offered on Thursday, but Stringer did say the next step for the technology would be a TV in the 20- to 30-inch class.

Sony also used the show to release details of an alarm clock that connects to the web. The device, which looks like a digital photo frame, will not only offer audio when the alarm is activated but can also provide local news, weather, photographs or videos when they wake up. No availability or pricing details were made available.


The Sony Flex OLED is manufactured on a thin sheet of plastic

See also: Sony Vaio P is netbook for fashionistas

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