Asustek Computer is selling its first PC with a revolutionary new display technology in early March.

The company, which sells products under the ASUS brand, plans to launch the U1 notebook PC on 7 March in Taiwan with an LED (light emitting diode) backlight behind the display screen. It will be among only a handful of laptop PCs using LED backlights to create stunningly sharp pictures and vivid colours on a display.

A backlight is a light behind the LCD display, on a laptop in this instance, used to illuminate the screen. Most notebook PCs currently use cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlights because the technology is less expensive than LEDs. An executive at AU Optronics, the world's third largest LCD (liquid crystal display) screen maker, estimated that LED backlights were two to three times more expensive than CCFL, in an interview last year.

But LED makers have been driving down costs by getting their product into more gadgets. The more they increase production, the lower their per-LED cost. LEDs are now used in a number of products, including auto lights and the small displays on DVD players and MP3 digital music devices. As costs comes down, LEDs that can be used in larger and larger screens.

Aside from the ability to display a greater range of colours, LED backlights beat CCFL technology in power savings as well. Their reduced drag on battery life is a key consideration for notebook PCs, and a number of companies are promoting their use in laptops, including Intel.

The LED backlight used in the U1 is "as thin as the wing of a cicada" according to the news conference invitation from Asustek. The entire LCD panel, including the backlight, is 0.5 centimetres thick, the release says.