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View topic - Flat screen TV's

Flat screen TV's

Section where you have questions/comments about room setup, equipment design, wiring and best configuration between Sony products in creating the best Home Theater setup.

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by -W- » Mon Sep 08, 2003 7:31 am

Which flat-screen is best?
The TV tech tussle: Coming to a screen near you

SEOUL, South Korea (Reuters) --At least three flat-screen technologies are vying to replace the boxy television set as TV makers accelerate their biggest design change since they replaced black-and-white with color.

With screens just a few inches thick and often measuring 40 inches or more diagonally, TVs using plasma or liquid crystal display (LCD) technologies are one of the most desirable products to reach electronics showrooms in years.

Priced in thousands of dollars, however, a television you can hang on the wall remains a dream for most consumers, and flat screens have grabbed only three percent of a global TV market estimated at $31 billion.

Display makers are confident sales will double each year for the next couple of years as consumers switch from traditional cathode ray tube technology.

What is less certain is whether the dominant technology will be plasma, the current choice for large screens, or LCDs, which monopolize the smaller screen market but are getting bigger and cheaper. There is also a wild card in an emerging technology called organic light-emitting diodes, also known as "glowing plastics."

"It's very difficult to tell which display will come out a winner," said Lee Kangsuk, vice president of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's digital media network.

"For over 50-inch panels, plasma is superior. For below 30-inch, LCD is. For 40-inch, nobody knows. But that is the area where the biggest demand is setting in."

Market split
LCDs have been difficult to make in the larger sizes used in their plasma rivals, so plasma dominates the bigger end of the market. But overall, LCD outsells plasma two to one worldwide, thanks to demand for small screens for cramped homes in Japan.

"So far plasma panels have dominated the large-size TV markets because LCD TVs are almost double the price of plasma when they are sized over 40 inches," said An Sung-ho, an analyst at Hanwha Securities.

For a 32-inch screen, there is little difference in price between the technologies: both can be bought for under $3,000 over the Internet in the United States. But while the price for a 42-inch plasma TV is only a little more, the same size LCD costs around $6,000.

However, plans by South Korean and Taiwanese companies to invest $25 billion in LCD production could lower costs dramatically.

The companies, which produce nearly 70 percent of the world's LCD panels, expect to bring their larger screen price down to around $2,000 in 2006, helping to lure more customers.

"With prices projected to drop by 26 percent every year over the next four years, LCD TV demand is set to explode," HSBC said in a research report.

The prime beneficiaries of that demand could be Japan's Sharp Corp, the world's top LCD TV maker, and Samsung Electronics of South Korea.

LG.Philips LCD, a joint venture between Dutch Philips Electronics NV and Korea's LG Electronics Ltd, should also prosper as the largest maker of the screens used in the TVs.

Demand to jump
Global shipments of flat-panel TVs are expected to jump from four million units in the year to March 31, 2004 to 13.9 million in 2005/06, when they will account for about 10 percent of total TV shipments.

That is according to Pioneer brand owner Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd, which wants to double its share of the flat TV market to 30 percent within three years.

Other TV makers such as Sony Corp and Philips have all declared they want at least a fourth of the market.

Only last week Sony said it would expand its flat-panel TV line-up to 27 models this year from seven last year to boost its global market share from below 10 percent in 2002/03.

Neither flat screen technology is perfect. LCDs last longer and consume less power than plasmas but are not as bright. Screens can also appear faded when viewed at an angle.

Plasma panels, which generate pictures using gases trapped between two sheets of glass, have a wide viewing angle but can require noisy fans to keep them cool.

Could there be an alternative? Some in the industry are betting on paper-thin, foldable screens that use organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs.

Getting rid of the backlight
Companies such as Seiko Epson, Philips, DuPont Co and Siemens-owned Osram are developing the technology, which does not require the backlight needed in LCD panels, making them more energy efficient and much thinner.

But researchers face a serious challenge in stretching the life of the light-emitting materials so they last long enough for a TV, and analysts say OLEDs are unlikely to be ready for use in screens for several years.

And don't write off the cathode ray tube just yet. Although DVDs played back on the top plasma screens produce stunning pictures, some experts feel they are still not a match for the best traditional TVs.

"For those that want better definition, we still recommend traditional cathode-ray tube TVs," said Kim Jung-woo, a TV retailer at a major electronics outlet in Seoul. "It will take years for LCD TVs to dominate our homes."

source: www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/ptech/09/08/flat.screen.reut/index.html

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