How thin the line between phobia and philia...

Once upon a time, there was a wretched disease. It struck without warning, without mercy and without hope.
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor

Once upon a time, there was a wretched disease. It struck without warning, without mercy and without hope. Most prevalent among otherwise healthy, bright males between 18 and 50, it could be diagnosed by the victim wearing smart black clothes (ie - not the entirely unrelated Goth plague, or Fatbob's Complaint), having a healthy bank balance and probably working in the media, music or other creative fields. Over time, the bank balance would shrink alarmingly, while the clothing would find itself perfectly camoflagued among equally black boxes of varying shapes and sizes. In extreme cases, the sufferer would become entirely surrounded by these boxes: such were the financial effects of this disease, though, this rarely occured before starvation or sanity set in.

I speak, of course, of Sonyphilia - the compulsion to own every last item produced by the Japanese company formerly known as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K.. And every disease worthy of its pustules has to have a celebrity sufferer: Sonyphilia managed to infect the perfect host in Brian Eno, who came out in the 80s.

But the syndrome has been in retreat since then. A cavalcade of innovation - video recorders, solid state TV cameras, Walkmen, CDs, Trinitron tubes, synthesised radios - was followed by stagnation and, let's be frank, a reputation for poor reliability and worse value for money. Many former Sonyphiles turned into Sonyphobes -- there's none angrier than a convert betrayed -- and while the disease found a way to infect the larval form of its prey with the Playstation, PS/2 and PSP, the PS/3 has led to predictions that it's being out-evolved for that niche by Nintendonitis.

But, like foot and mouth, it's too early to write it off. From Japan comes news that Sony is launching the first OLED TVs. I've seen small OLED colour displays, and they redefine gorgeous: once seen, the brightness, contrast ratio and sheer hallucinatory saturation of the colours render all other displays unsatisfactory.

Although the new Sony displays aren't very big -- 11 inches -- and are very expensive, clocking in at the same price as a 40" LCD, they will become must-haves among a certain class of people, the same way that lots of Sony gear used to way back when. Sony's also been showing off an OLED PSP, which if produced will be more affordable and just as luscious.

Two or three more industry-leading innovations, and I'll be back in black myself...

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