Organic electroluminescent displays, or OELDs, made appearances in several mobile device prototypes at the Ceatec Japan 2001 technology show. The displays, which many believe will eventually replace LCD screens, wowed attendees with their bright, rich colours.

Sanyo, one of the leading developers of the technology, unveiled a prototype portable TV with a 5.5in OELD and a two-hour battery life. The prototype OELD has a wide viewing angle, high resolution support and displays moving images without ghosting (a common complaint about LCD screens). Sanyo hopes to develop the screen for commercial launch in Japan and elsewhere in 2003, said company spokesman Mitsuhiro Ida.

The company is keen to use OELDs because they consume 50 percent less power than conventional backlit LCDs. The organic layer in the display glows itself, so no battery-draining backlight is needed. As well as reducing power consumption, dispensing with a backlight means the displays are thinner and lighter, making them ideally suited to mobile devices, Ida said.

Mobile phone-sized OELD screens are ready to go into production, Ida said, but TV-sized versions are still prohibitively expensive. These 2.2in, 260,000-colour OELDs for mobile phones were also exhibited at Ceatec. Designed for use in third-generation multimedia phones, they will be on the market next year, Sanyo said.

Elsewhere at Ceatec, Sony attracted a massive crowd with prototype 13in, 800x600, SVGA and 10in, 864x480, WVGA OELD displays, each just 1.4mm thick. The company hopes to commercialise them in 2003.

The picture quality of the displays was so high that even engineers from Pioneer, another OELD developer, were praising them at Sony's booth.