This is a fairly big post... don't feel discouraged! Keep reading! You'll really enjoy the info!
Reminded of this cool topic by my friend Ricardo Cavalinni, I decided to link a couple of cool videos featuring the earliest commercial incarnations of e-paper technology.
This is what we may call the "infancy" of a new tech. that may revolutionize the way we handle visual information, from newspapers and books, to your home's wallpaper and maybe even TV screen...
Sony and Philips are already selling products, and colored papers with LCD-like refresh rates are on the way in a not-so-distant future! (And e-paper can have resolutions much higher than LCDs)
A consumer made this video while inspecting a model of Sony's e-paper text reader at a bookstore:
I'm now thinking of having a wall on my apartment where I can put up sketches and pictures in huge sizes and not blast my power bill to outer space!
(Yep, e-paper only consumes power to change the image. Once it's set, no more power required to maintain it.)
Think about your wife changing the color and theme of your home's "e-wallpaper" every day!! HAHAH.
However, OLEDs (Organic Light-Emitting Diodes) are a wholly different, upper-level thing...
Called "organic" because they are made from a special kind of plastic that emits light when charged by an electric current, these will surely make your brand new plasma TV look like what your old tube TV looked like when you got the plasma one!
Sony (yes, they keep showing up everywhere!...) recently showcased their future OLED products at CES 2007. They were all hand-built prototypes, but simply astonished viewers with their vibrant colors, brightness and resolution. They have achieved contrast ratios of 1.000.000/1!!
(FYI: the best LCD displays nowadays have contrast ratios ranging around 700/1...)
These are also very low on power consumption and the production is much simpler than LCDs or plasmas.
While only small screens are available today for consumer products, wall-sized displays are confirmed for a very near future... Looks like plasmas will last even less than the life-expectancy range displayed in their manuals! :P
Check out this C|Net report on the subject: