The CES show is full of some awfully impressive TVs, but I'd yet to meet one that could be made as tall as the Eiffel Tower (albeit only a few inches wide). That's precisely what Sony has managed to do with a remarkable display technology it calls CLEDIS.
CLEDIS—short for Crystal LED Integrated Structure—is like a Lego block for digital displays. Each CLEDIS unit is roughly a 16 x 18-inch rectangle that displays a high contrast, highly detailed picture. That block can be joined to another blocks, and another, and so on, in whatever shape or size the owner wants.
This block-by-block form factor is not new, but CLEDIS is a huge step forward in image quality. The display that Sony showcased at their CES booth was a massive 32-feet by 9-feet, composed of 144 CLEDIS blocks, displaying an insane 8K x 2K video. To stand before this behemoth was, quite frankly, like looking into the painfully bright, frighteningly sharp future.
To be clear, CLEDIS is not a television, at least not in the sense you're probably used to. It's aimed squarely at the business market, intended for custom displays in fancy office buildings, malls, or any indoor spaces. This is not plug-and-play. You can dream up whatever assemblage you like, but Sony's Professional Solutions business has to handle the installation.
CLEDIS premiered in mid-2016, and has since been installed in many locations. But in all honesty, I stopped listening after a Sony rep told me that someone had hooked up their Playstation to one of these leviathans, playing what I assume was the most epic game of Overwatch in history.
A block-to-block system like CLEDIS offers far more possibilities than just making a typically proportioned TV screen bigger. You could, for instance, make a display hundreds of blocks wide but only one block tall—a high-res news ticker that could run the perimeter of a shopping mall.
We already have Jumbotrons, so what makes CLEDIS different? Lots, as it turns out. The crystal LED technology means that each pixel has a self-emitting LED, with individual diodes for red, green, and blue. It's able to achieve 140% of the sRGB color space. There's no backlighting, so when the pixel turns off it's perfectly black, like an OLED screen. But when every pixel on the screen went full-blast white—whoo boy! Every person on the show floor was squinting.
In addition to that superior contrast, the sharpness is remarkable. Each CLEDIS unit has a 320 x 360 resolution. There's no bezel to create gaps between each blocks, so the transition of an image across blocks is seamless.
Could this be the future for home displays? Will we all soon be converting whole walls of our living rooms into CLEDIS digital displays? Possibly, but not right away.
The technology that drives that incredible picture performance is only possible because the pixels themselves are so large. This is meant to be viewed at a distance. If you get close, you can definitely see the grid patterns of panels, sub-panels, and pixels. Of course, if you put your face up against a 4K TV you can also see the pixels, so there's no accounting for user error.
Oh, and the cost. Pointing a thumb back towards the 288-square-foot display behind him, a Sony rep confirmed that "it's safe to say this over a million dollars." Guess that Overwatch game will have to wait.