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What Is a SED Monitor?

A SED monitor, or Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display, is a type of screen technology that offers superior image quality with high brightness, contrast, and resolution. It combines the slim form factor of LCDs with the superior viewing angles and color range of CRTs. Intrigued? Discover how SED monitors are changing the way we view digital content.
Garry Crystal
Garry Crystal

Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display (SED) monitors are hailed as the next generation of television screens. Developments in 1986 and 1999 brought about a joint research team from Canon and Toshiba. Deciding that the venture had a future in the market, they formed SED Inc. in October 2004.

The biggest selling feature of the SED monitor is its ability to produce vivid color images that far surpass the types of display on offer today. With the advent of high-vision broadcasting and broadband network, along with digital cameras, camcorders and DVDS, demand is spreading for high quality, high definition displays. Businesses and the public are seeking larger screens with higher definition and image quality.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

The common television we use today, which mainly uses a cathode ray tube (CRT), is not suitable to be enlarged beyond a certain point. If such television sets were enlarged any further than they are now, they would be significantly heavier and the depth of the units would have to be deeper. The challenge for manufacturers was to combine a new kind of display with the same picture quality as the CRT in a slimmer, larger unit.

The SED monitor has successfully met this challenge. This monitor uses Canon's proprietary electron-emission and microfabrication technologies. These were combined with Toshiba's CRT and mass production technologies for Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) and semiconductors.

The SED monitor utilizes the collision of electrons with a phosphor-coated screen to produce light, as do CRTs. What makes this monitor unique is the incorporation of a very narrow gap, several nanometers wide, between two electric poles. When 10 volts of electricity are applied, electrons are emitted from one side of the slit. Some of these electrons spread to the other side of the slit, causing light to radiate when they clash with the phosphor-coated glass.

As the SED monitor works with the same light production theory as CRT monitors, it can provide a sharper, more dynamic color than LCDs and plasma displays. SEDs also have a faster video response time. As the monitor does not require electronic beam deflection, it is possible to make screens which are only a few centimeters thick.

Another major benefit of the SED monitor is low power consumption. The SED uses only two thirds of the power needed to run a plasma screen. It also has lower power consumption than LCDs and the traditional CRTs. This monitor will not only transform the way we view television and films, but because of its low power use, it will be earth-friendly too.

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Discussion Comments


@MrMoody - I doubt it. What you see in the theater is a projection system. I don’t believe that SEDs fit that model. Although I can certainly see large scale SED screens filling up home theaters.


@everetra - Does this mean that SED monitors will replace the large screens we have at movie theaters?


@NathanG - I notice that television and computer monitor technology have more or less meshed with the advent of LCD monitors. The technology is basically the same from what I can tell.

With that in mind, I predict that SED technology will make its way into computer monitors as well. We will have SED computer monitors rendering brilliant color and resolution.

For most productivity applications this may not make much of a difference, but for video editing or watching movies on your computer it will make a big difference. I think the improved clarity and detail will make online movie watching more common.


I saw a demonstration of an SED screen, and this is one technology you have to see to believe. Not only are the colors breathtaking but so is the clarity of the images.

This holds true for images that are very small. With these screens you can see small letters blaze across the screen without the slightest blur. That’s not something you can accomplish with a regular LCD screen or even a plasma television screen.

As with all new technologies however it will be kind of pricey when it first comes out. I’ll wait until prices drop and then buy myself one for Christmas.

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