iTablet goes OLED, bumped until late 2010

Rumors are swirling that Apple's tablet will be pushed back to the second half of 2010 in order to accommodate an upgraded OLED screen. Would you pay twice the price for a iTablet with an OLED screen?

Optimistic customers waiting for Apple to release its mythical tablet will have to wait a little longer if rumors coming out of China are true.

DigiTimes is reporting that the Apple tablet has been delayed from March 2010 to some time in the "second half" of 2010. Citing sources from component makers, the report claims that the delay is a result of Apple's decision to switch to a 9.7-inch Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) panel from LG Display.

In addition to upgrading to an 9.7-inch OLED panel Apple is also reportedly considering keeping a less-expensive 10.6-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) model in the lineup, most likely for price reasons.

The story also reports that Apple has enlisted two additional manufacturing partners to build the tablet. iPod maker Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) will be joined by long time Apple contractor Quanta Computer and Pegatron Technology.

DigiTimes estimates that with 9.7-inch OLED panels currently costing about $500 -- normally about 30% of the final price tag -- a 9.7-inch OLED tablet Mac will cost between $1,500 and $1,700. And that's Apple's cost. Assuming component costs drop to around $1,200-1,500 in the second half of 2010 - that could push the retail price of Apple's OLED tablet upwards of $2,000.


The good news is that the 10.6-inch TFT-based version should retail for a much more managable $800 - $1,000 as has been rumored for quite while.

OLED has many benefits over TFT:

OLEDs enable a greater range of colours, gamut, brightness, contrast (both dynamic range and static) and viewing angle than LCDs because OLED pixels directly emit light. OLED pixel colours 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 that filter out about half of the light emitted by the backlight.

It's a compelling technical argument, for sure, but I'm not sure if consumers will pay twice the price for a iTablet with an OLED screen.

What are some of the ways that Apple could further differentiate the high-end model? What would justify paying double the price?

Photo: A juicy fake from TUAW, circa 2006.



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