I didn’t mention this in yesterday’s post about the Consumer Electronics Show, but another issue I have with the event–which, again, I like–is that it’s not the crystal-clear preview of what’s next for personal tech that you might assume it would be. After last year’s show, I wrote a piece about that odd fact for Slate, and one of the examples I gave was surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED) TV–a cool technology which Canon and Toshiba kept showing off but not shipping.
One of the things that has kept SED out of our living rooms–or at least out of the living rooms of the exceedingly well-heeled–is a nettlesome patent lawsuit that has dogged the technology since 2005. But the Financial Times is reporting that SED’s legal woes are over, and Canon–which bought out Toshiba’s interest in the technology–is now free to manufacture sets.
Which doesn’t mean that it’ll do so any time soon. The FT quotes Canon’s president as saying that the current price plunge for LCD and plasma TVs means it would be a lousy time to introduce a new technology. That leaves open the possibility that SED could be trumped by OLED–another nascent technology that’s actually available in sets you can buy–before it ever gets going. (I’m not enough of an expert on display technologies to really compare SED and OLED’s pros and cons and chances of success–I just remember being wowed by SED, and I’m being paranoid.)
I’m kind of assuming that Canon won’t be trumpeting SED at next month’s CES. But it’s nice to know it could do so without it being an utter pipe dream.