Sony and Panasonic team on big-screen OLED

Sony and Panasonic have announced a collaboration to develop large panel OLEDs for TV, pushing the low-power technology as a potential replacement for LCD and plasma. The deal will see the two firms work together on next-generation organic EL panels and modules, using printing processes that are more efficient than existing manufacturing techniques. If all goes to plan, meanwhile, Sony and Panasonic's partnership may only be the first step.

The two firms have kept the door open for potentially collaborating on mass-production of large-scale OLED displays, as well as continuing research into their manufacture and development. Actual scale production could happen as soon as 2013, it's said.

Rumors of the deal had begun some time ago, with both companies chasing their Korean rivals for the edge in OLED. Samsung and LG have each demonstrated 55-inch OLED HDTVs with launch plans for later in the year, and while the considerable price tags scale the sets out of the budget of most buyers, it's nonetheless an important first step on the process to making the technology mass-market.

In contrast, Sony flirted with OLED in TVs back in 2007, with the world's first such set (measuring a mere 11-inches, so not something you'd probably want to gather the family around for the latest blockbuster), but axed development a few years later as it struggled to return to profitability. Exact terms of the deal have not been announced.