Friday, January 11, 2008

Comcast offers faster Internet, high-def content

Company also plans better integration of video, phone and broadband

PHILADELPHIA - Cable companies aren't known as nimble innovators, but Comcast Corp. is out to change that perception this year with ultra-high-speed Internet service, more high-definition content and gadgets that link video, phone and broadband services.

"We're about innovation and having the best network," Chief Executive Brian Roberts told The Associated Press in a preview of his speech at the Consumer Electronics show on Tuesday.

Roberts is expected to demonstrate a technology that delivers up to 160 megabits of data per second: It will allow him to download a high-definition copy of "Batman Begins" in four minutes. The technology, DOCSIS 3.0, will start rolling out this year.

"If it's as successful as we hope, in 2009 and beyond we will have it available in millions of homes," he said.

Speedier broadband
Roberts hopes the speed-up will boost growth of Comcast's broadband service, which has been slowing.

Cable systems largely enable download speeds up to 10 Mbps — compared with up to 50 Mbps from Verizon's fiber-optic service FiOS.

"Cable looks like it will be able to keep up with the Joneses, thank you very much," Craig Moffett, senior analyst at Sanford Bernstein in New York, said of the new technology.

Roberts said Comcast plans to offer more than 1,000 high-definition videos this year, including up to 300 movies on demand that may be free or included in a subscription or a pay-per-view service.

That's a salvo aimed at DirecTV Group Inc. in their race to amass high-definition content. Philadelphia-based Comcast and El Segundo, Calif.-based DirecTV settled a lawsuit last month over which has better quality HD.

Roberts said Comcast will be creating "superservers" to store the extra video-on-demand content and supplement those in the neighborhood that move shows and movies to customers' cable boxes.

When a customer wants to watch a show that's not stored in the regional server, the computer will dial into the national server to access the content and bring it to the home, Roberts said.

Movies on demand
These national servers will enable Comcast to offer 6,000 movies on demand — 3,000 of them in high-definition — without requiring customers to get a new cable box.

Moreover, Roberts said the cable system is a "secure, licensed world" that should reassure movie studios that their content won't be easily pilfered.

To supplement its horde of movies and TV shows, Comcast plans on Tuesday to officially launch its Fancast Web site, which has full TV episodes for old and new shows as well as some movies.

The site also incorporates Fandango, the movie-ticket purchase portal, which Comcast bought last year.

Within months, Comcast subscribers will be able use the Fancast Web site's TV listings to set up the recording of programs on their home digital video recorders. Comcast said it plans to work with other video providers so the Fancast DVR feature will work on their systems as well.

Roberts also said that Comcast's Tivo service has been launched in New England and would be available in more markets in 2008. Tivo will be available as an add-on service for a fee Comcast will share with Tivo Inc.

In voice, Comcast is rolling out a caller ID service that pops up on TVs and computers of customers who buy its video, Internet and phone package.

And, with VTech, Comcast is developing a cordless phone with a mini-screen where users can access e-mail.

The phone, now in testing, also will offer viewable voice mail like Apple Inc.'s iPhone does, where users can see a list of messages and choose which to hear first. And it will offer weather forecasts, sports data and a phone directory.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

iSleep to iDream With iPod-Ready Bed

The world's first iPod-compatible bed was revealed by manufacturer Leggett and Platt at CES.

The world's first iPod-compatible bed - called the Starry Night Sleep Technology Bed - is packed with high-tech toys, including WiFi connectivity, a surround sound speaker system, an LCD projector, dual temperature controls and DVR capability. It also features a built-in iPod dock. Essentially, this bed (which costs between US$20,000-$50,000) is a high tech temple of sleep for the iPod user who doesn't feel like going anywhere.

The bed also features vibration detection. This means that if a sleeper is detected to be vibrating the bed (most likely through snoring) half the bed will automatically be raised 7-degrees, returning to its original position once the snoring stops.

"I know it sounds like a lot, but you show me somebody that sleeps in a bed with someone that snores; I will show you a person that thinks $20,000 is a very small amount to pay to solve that problem," Mark Quinn, group executive vice president for Leggett & Platt's bedding division, said Tuesday at CES.,141287-c,mp3players/article.html

Toshiba Shows Prototype TV Running on PS3 Chip

Here's what happens when you take the powerful Cell microprocessor, the chip that sits at the heart of the PS3, and put it to use inside a television. It's impressive.

What happens when you take the powerful Cell microprocessor, the chip that sits at the heart of the PlayStation 3 games console, and put it to use inside a television? Toshiba is demonstrated just such a TV at this week's International Consumer Electronics Show and the results are impressive.

The Cell chip was developed by Toshiba along with IBM, Sony and Sony Computer Entertainment, and is dedicated to graphics processing. Each chip contains a single Power PC core and eight co-processors to make heavy-duty processing of video a breeze.

While Sony developed the chip for its PlayStation 3, Toshiba invested money in the project with an eye to using the device in consumer electronics products. Until CES, the company hadn't shown a Cell-powered consumer device, but a pair of flat-panel TVs on its booth at the trade show have changed that.

The first and perhaps most relevant benefit of putting the Cell inside a television is the ability to handle real-time upscaling of standard definition TV to high-def. With more and more HDTV channels, we get more and more used to the crisp, sharp quality offered by HD and that makes standard definition look poor. With a Cell-powered TV you'd be able to enjoy regular channels in higher quality much closer to that of HD, said Hiroaki Komaki, a specialist at Toshiba's core technology center in Tokyo.

The upscaling doesn't stop there. The same feature can be used to zoom in on an area of an HDTV picture, enlarge that single area, and then improve it's image quality. Imagine zooming in on a home movie of a sports event and getting closer to the action.

The Cell also makes it possible to easily navigate a number of video channels simultaneously. In a demo at CES, the chip was streaming 48 chapters from a standard-definition video file in real-time, with each appearing as a video thumbnail on the screen. Clicking on one of the clips would bring it up on the lower half of the screen, with 16 chapters still running in the upper half. Another push on the button would move it to full screen.

If the video streams were HD, it would be able to process six in real-time and display them on the screen, said Komaki.

Toshiba still hasn't decided exactly what features it will build into a Cell-based TV, nor has it decided when such a set will go on sale. One thing Toshiba isn't planning on doing is building a PlayStation 3 gaming system into its TVs. The chips may be the same but Komaki said such a combination isn't likely.

The company has been chasing the idea of Cell-based consumer electronics since it signed on with Sony and IBM to develop the chip in 2001.,141282-c,chips/article.html

CES 2008: Slick, New Laptops

HD DVD writers, Intel Penryn processors, and 1 terabyte of storage are among the features coming to new laptops near you.

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Gateway P-Series FX Edition: The Gamer

This series of 17-inch laptops, designed for gaming and entertainment fans, comes with DirectX 10-capable nVidia GeForce 8800M GTS graphics with 512MB of GDDR3 RAM, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and gigabit ethernet as well as HDMI and eSATA ports. The flagship P-171XL FX Edition--with an Intel Mobile Extreme X7900 processor, 400GB of storage, and an HD DVD player--costs $3000. Other models range from $1350 to $2000. Gateway will start rolling the FX laptops out in early January. For more information, read our story on the full Gateway line-up of desktops and laptops.,141183-c,notebooks/article.html#

Organic light-emitting diode(OLED)

A 3.8 cm (1.5 in) OLED Screen
A 3.8 cm (1.5 in) OLED Screen

An organic light-emitting diode (OLED), also Light Emitting Polymer (LEP) and Organic Electro-Luminescence (OEL), is any light-emitting diode (LED) whose emissive electroluminescent layer is composed of a film of organic compounds. The layer usually contains a polymer substance that allows suitable organic compounds to be deposited. They are deposited in rows and columns onto a flat carrier by a simple "printing" process. The resulting matrix of pixels can emit light of different colors.

Such systems can be used in television screens, computer displays, portable system screens, advertising, information and indication. OLEDs can also be used in light sources for general space illumination, and large-area light-emitting elements. OLEDs typically emit less light per area than inorganic solid-state based LEDs which are usually designed for use as point-light sources.

A significant benefit of OLED displays over traditional liquid crystal displays (LCDs) is that OLEDs do not require a backlight to function. Thus they draw far less power and, when powered from a battery, can operate longer on the same charge. OLED-based display devices also can be more effectively manufactured than LCDs and plasma displays. But degradation of OLED materials has limited the use of these materials.


Bernanose and co-workers first produced electroluminescence in organic materials in the early 1950s by applying a high-voltage alternating current (AC) field to crystalline thin films of acridine orange and quinacrine.[1][2][3][4] In 1960, researchers at Dow Chemical developed AC-driven electroluminescent cells using doped anthracene.[5]

The low electrical conductivity of such materials limited light output until more conductive organic materials became available, especially the polyacetylene, polypyrrole, and polyaniline "Blacks". In a 1963 series of papers, Weiss et al. first reported high conductivity in iodine-doped oxidized polypyrrole.[6][7][8] They achieved a conductivity of 1 S/cm. Unfortunately, this discovery was "lost"[clarify], as was a 1974 report[9] of a melanin-based bistable switch with a high conductivity "ON" state. This material emitted a flash of light when it switched.

In a subsequent 1977 paper, Shirakawa et al. reported high conductivity in similarly oxidized and iodine-doped polyacetylene.[10] Heeger, MacDiarmid & Shirakawa received the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "The discovery and development of conductive organic polymers". The Nobel citation made no reference to the earlier discoveries.[11]

Modern work with electroluminescence in such polymers culminated with Burroughs et al. 1990 paper in the journal Nature reporting a very-high-efficiency green-light-emitting polymer.[12]

Related technologies

Small molecules

OLED technology was first developed at Eastman Kodak Company by Dr. Ching W. Tang using Small-molecules. The production of small-molecule displays requires vacuum deposition, which makes the production process more expensive than other processing techniques (see below). Since this is typically carried out on glass substrates, these displays are also not flexible, though this limitation is not inherent to small-molecule organic materials. The term OLED traditionally refers to this type of device, though some are using the term SM-OLED.

Molecules commonly used in OLEDs include organo-metallic chelates (for example Alq3, used in the first organic light-emitting device[13]) and conjugated dendrimers.

Recently a hybrid light-emitting layer has been developed that uses nonconductive polymers doped with light-emitting, conductive molecules. The polymer is used for its production and mechanical advantages without worrying about optical properties. The small molecules then emit the light and have the same longevity that they have in the SM-OLEDs.


LEP display showing partial failure
LEP display showing partial failure

Polymer light-emitting diodes (PLED), also Light-Emitting Polymers (LEP) involve an electroluminescent conductive polymer that emits light when subjected to an electric current[14]. They are used as a thin film for full-spectrum color displays and require a relatively small amount of power for the light produced. No vacuum is required, and the emissive materials can be applied on the substrate by a technique derived from commercial inkjet printing.[15][16] The substrate used can be flexible, such as PET.[17] Thus, flexible PLED displays may be produced inexpensively.

Typical polymers used in PLED displays include derivatives of poly(p-phenylene vinylene) and poly(fluorene). Substitution of side chains onto the polymer backbone may determine the color of emitted light[18] or the stability and solubility of the polymer for performance and ease of processing.[19]


Patternable organic light-emitting device (POLED) uses a light or heat activated electroactive layer. A latent material (PEDOT-TMA) is included in this layer that, upon activation, becomes highly efficient as a hole injection layer. Using this process, light-emitting devices with arbitrary patterns can be prepared[20].


Transparent organic light-emitting device (TOLED) uses a proprietary transparent contact to create displays that can be made to be top-only emitting, bottom-only emitting, or both top and bottom emitting (transparent). TOLEDs can greatly improve contrast, making it much easier to view displays in bright sunlight.


Stacked OLED (SOLED) uses a novel pixel architecture that is based on stacking the red, green, and blue subpixels on top of one another instead of next to one another as is commonly done in CRTs and LCDs. This improves display resolution up to threefold and enhances full-color quality.


Inverted OLED (IOLED) uses a bottom cathode that can be connected to the drain end of n-channel TFT especially for the low cost a-Si TFT backplane useful in manufacturing of AMOLED display.[21] In contrast to a conventional OLED which anode is placed on the substrate.

Working principle

An OLED is composed of an emissive layer, a conductive layer, a substrate, and anode and cathode terminals. The layers are made of special organic polymer molecules that conduct electricity. Their levels of conductivity range from those of insulators to those of conductors, and so they are called organic semiconductors.

OLED schematic: 1. Cathode (−), 2. Emissive Layer, 3. Emission of radiation, 4. Conductive Layer, 5. Anode (+)
OLED schematic: 1. Cathode (−), 2. Emissive Layer, 3. Emission of radiation, 4. Conductive Layer, 5. Anode (+)

A voltage is applied across the OLED such that the anode is positive with respect to the cathode. This causes a current of electrons to flow through the device from cathode to anode. Thus, the cathode gives electrons to the emissive layer and the anode withdraws electrons from the conductive layer; in other words, the anode gives electron holes to the conductive layer.

Soon, the emissive layer becomes negatively charged, while the conductive layer becomes rich in positively charged holes. Electrostatic forces bring the electrons and the holes towards each other and recombine. This happens closer to the emissive layer, because in organic semiconductors holes are more mobile than electrons (unlike in inorganic semiconductors). The recombination causes a drop in the energy levels of electrons, accompanied by an emission of radiation whose frequency is in the visible region. That is why this layer is called emissive.

The device does not work when the anode is put at a negative potential with respect to the cathode. In this condition, holes move to the anode and electrons to the cathode, so they are moving away from each other and do not recombine.

Indium tin oxide is commonly used as the anode material. It is transparent to visible light and has a high work function which promotes injection of holes into the polymer layer. Metals such as aluminium and calcium are often used for the cathode as they have low work functions which promote injection of electrons into the polymer layer.[22]


The radically different manufacturing process of OLEDs lends itself to many advantages over flat-panel displays made with LCD technology. Since OLEDs can be printed onto any suitable substrate using an inkjet printer or even screen printing technologies,[23] they can theoretically have a significantly lower cost than LCDs or plasma displays. Printing OLEDs onto flexible substrates opens the door to new applications such as roll-up displays and displays embedded in clothing.

OLEDs enable a greater range of colors, brightness, and viewing angle than LCDs, because OLED pixels directly emit light. OLED pixel colors appear correct and unshifted, even as the viewing angle approaches 90 degrees from normal. LCDs use a backlight and cannot show true black, while an "off" OLED element produces no light and consumes no power. Energy is also wasted in LCDs because they require polarizers which filter out about half of the light emitted by the backlight. Additionally, color filters in color LCDs filter out two-thirds of the light.

OLEDs also have a faster response time than standard LCD screens. Whereas a standard LCD currently has an average of 8-12 millisecond response time, an OLED can have less than 0.01ms response time. [24]


The biggest technical problem for OLEDs is the limited lifetime of the organic materials. In particular, blue OLEDs historically have had a lifetime of around 5,000 hours when used for flat-panel displays, which is lower than typical lifetime of LCD, LED or PDP technology – each currently rated for about 60,000 hours, depending on manufacturer and model. But in 2007, experimental PLEDs were created which can sustain 400cd/sq.m of output for over 198,000 hours.[25]

The intrusion of water into displays can damage or destroy the organic materials. Therefore, improved sealing processes are important for practical manufacturing and may limit the longevity of more flexible displays.

Commercial development of the technology is also restrained by patents held by Eastman Kodak and other firms, requiring other companies to acquire a license.[26] In the past, many display technologies have become widespread only once the patents have expired; a classic example is the aperture grille CRT.[27]

Technology demos

Sony applications

Sony 11-inch OLED, slated for release in Japan at the end of 2007
Sony 11-inch OLED, slated for release in Japan at the end of 2007

At the Las Vegas CES 2007, Sony showcased 11-inch (28 cm, resolution 1,024×600) and 27-inch (68.5 cm, full HD resolution at 1920×1080) models claiming million-to-one contrast ratio and total thickness (including bezels) of 5 mm. Sony plans on releasing a commercial version of this television in Japan in December, 2007.[28]

Sony plans to begin manufacturing 1000 11-inch OLED TVs per month for market testing purposes.[29]

On October 1, 2007, Sony announced it will sell 11-Inch OLED TVs for 200,000 yen (1714 USD) from December 2007, only in Japan [30] and with an initial production of 2000 units per month.

On May 25, 2007, Sony publicly unveiled a video of a 2.5-inch flexible OLED screen which is only 0.3 millimeters thick.[31] The screen displayed images of a bicycle stunt and a picturesque lake while the screen was flexed.

Other companies

The Optimus Maximus keyboard currently in development by the Art. Lebedev Studio is expected to use 113 48×48-pixel OLEDs (10.1×10.1 mm) for its keys.

OLEDs can be used in High-Resolution Holography (Volumetric display). Professor Orbit showed on May 12, 2007, EXPO Lisbon the potential application of these materials to reproduce three-dimensional video.[citation needed]

OLEDs could also be used as solid-state light sources. OLED efficacies and lifetime already exceed those of incandescent light bulbs, and OLEDs are investigated worldwide as source for general illumination; an example is the EU OLLA project.[32]

Commercial uses

OLED technology is used in commercial applications such as small screens for mobile phones and portable digital audio players (MP3 players), car radios, digital cameras, and high-resolution microdisplays for head-mounted displays. Such portable applications favor the high light output of OLEDs for readability in sunlight, and their low power drain. Portable displays are also used intermittently, so the lower lifespan of OLEDs is less important here. Prototypes have been made of flexible and rollable displays which use OLED's unique characteristics. OLEDs have been used in most Motorola and Samsung color cell phones, as well as some Sony Ericsson phones, notably the Z610i, and some models of the Sony Walkman[33]. It is also found in the Creative Zen V/V Plus series of MP3 players. Nokia has also introduced recently some OLED products: Nokia 7900 Prism and Nokia 8800 Arte.

On October 1st, 2007, Sony became the first company to announce an OLED television, which was released in Japan in December 2007.[34]

Newer OLED applications include signs and outdoor lighting, from companies such as CeeLite.[35]

Samsung will unveil a 31-inch OLED TV at the January CES in Las Vegas and is promising much larger screens to come. “We have the technological ability to make 40-inch OLED,” said a spokesman, before adding that it won’t be until 2010 that the company will be in a position to mass produce such panels.