DTV Primer

Chris Llana, Editor



LCD Flat-panel Market Looks to Bigger

May 31 , 2005

At the Society for Information Display conference in Boston this past month, a number of speakers looked to the future for LCD flat-panel displays, and what they saw was larger screen sizes. Samsung is showing off an 82” prototype, but don’t expect to see one of these in your local showroom anytime soon.

Sharp, the leading producer of LCD Flat-panel TVs, will introduce a 65" set at the end of the year having full 1920 x 1080 resolution (something comparable plasma displays can't match) and a hefty price expected to be around $15,000.

Increasing demand for 1920 x 1080-pixel displays will be driving production of these new larger displays. The technology is changing as well, from super twisted nematic LCDs to thin film transitor (TFT) LCD displays (just had to put that in).

The industry has invested heavily in new manufacturing facilities to expand capacity and produce larger glass substrate panels, from which are cut the pieces that go into the actual TV displays. Sixth and seventh generation plants are going on line now, with eighth and ninth generation facilities in planning.

Because the proliferation of different sizes is helping to keep costs up, Samsung is calling for standardization of screen sizes across the industry. Samsung sees the most dominant larger sizes for current mass production to be 40” and 46”, while LG Philips sees 42” and 46” screen sizes becoming standard. Sharp goes with 45". (Not quite on the same order as the format battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD, but still something that will add to the cost of an LCD display.)

When eighth generation plants start producing, look for 52” LCD flat-panel TVs to be mass produced, and then 57” sets showing up after 9th-gen plants open.

These bigger sizes will be competing head-to-head with plasma displays, which some analysts say will disappear in sizes under 42”. (They both need to be worried about SED.)

Don’t forget about smaller LCD flat-panel TVs. Expect to see them proliferate in 22" or 23”, 26”, and 32” sizes as an alternative to direct-view CRT digital widescreen sets. If computer monitor history is any indication, expect LCD screens to win out. Not just yet, though.

Reason one, digital widescreen sets in this smaller range are not widely produced yet, and the ones that are do not generally have digital tuners. LCD flat-panel sets will cost twice as much as the CRT sets.

Next year expect to see a lot more smaller digital TVs. Demand them! Don't buy analog.