Toshiba plans to launch a television based on a new flat-panel display technology called SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display) in 2005.

The technology has been under development by Toshiba and Canon since the 1990s. Televisions using this technology are said by developers to produce pictures that are as bright as a conventional CRT (cathode ray tube) pictures but without the slight time-delay sometimes seen with other flat-panel technologies such as LCDs (liquid crystal displays) and PDPs (plasma display panels).

Initial production in 2005 will be set at a small quantity and the TVs are likely to be expensive.

Eventually, Toshiba is eyeing SED as a replacement technology for PDP panels, particularly for use in panels of around 40in or larger. The company has already begun laying plans to phase out production of PDP televisions in 2007. It plans to keep LCD panels in small and mid-size sets and use SED for larger sets.

SED is one of several emerging display technologies that, according to their respective backers, do a better job than either LCD or PDP.

One such competitor, OLED (organic light emitting diode), is already used commercially for small screens in products such as cell phones but its development has yet to reach the stage where it can be used for televisions. Sony and others have been working for several years on another technology called FED (field emission display) but that too has yet to reach commercialisation.