A new generation of power-efficient displays is threatening to take on their heavier, energy-consuming liquid crystal display rivals. However, according to industry watchers, it will be years before a clear winner emerges.

Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) needs no backlighting, resulting in ultra-thin displays that consume as much as 40 percent less power than a comparable LCD. To that end, portable devices such as laptop computers could greatly benefit from OLED for improved battery life and portability. Few smaller portable devices, such as music players and thin mobile phones are already starting to use this technology.

The market for low-power forms of OLED and low power LCD displays is set to grow rapidly, reaching 4 billion in sales by 2012, rising at an annual growth rate of 27 percent from $6 billion in 2007, according to market researcher iSuppli Corp.
These new display types has caught the eye of some LCD makers, at the beginning of the year Sony announced that they would be producing the first commercially available OLED TVs by the end of 2007, while Toshiba too has announced their own OLED TVs would be available by 2009.

However, some LCD producers unwilling to spend big bucks in a new technology that could be years away from mass adoption, are focusing their efforts on improving LCD technology using new power control technology and optical sensors for backlight units.

OLED displays are also said to offer huge increase in the number of available colors over traditional LCD and Plasma TVs, producing a vastly superior picture. As always, a high price tag for the first commercially available products is to be expected, however, prices should come down as OLEDs become widely used in cell phones, PCs and flat-screen TVs in years to come.