New Coalition Aims to Make LCD TV More Accessible, Better Understood
BEAVERTON, Ore. – With so many options available to today's flat-screen TV buyer, manufacturers of the hottest technologies have started banding together to promote their benefits. Last year saw the formation of both the Plasma Display Coalition and theMicro Device Display Projection Consortium, and 2007 brings the latest advocacy group for a specific niche of the display industry with the launch of the LCD TV Association. Conceived of and founded by long-time liquid-crystal-display (LCD) marketing professional Bruce Berkoff, the association aims not only to promote the advantages of LCD TV over competing technologies in appropriate markets, but to raise the bar on quality and simplicity in the industry as a whole.
"The sub-$10 billion plasma market has two organizations (one in Japan and one in the U.S.) to promote its products, and the much larger (approximately $100 billion, according to DisplaySearch) LCD supply chain had none. So now it does," Berkoff said. "While we love other display technologies, and do not intend to say anything bad about them, we do want to point out the many positives and strengths of LCDs to make them even better."
The LCD TV Association's stated mission is to inform the public about the benefits of LCD TV and announce the results of various research projects; to promote the industry and the technology through its Web site (www.LCDTVAssociation.org), speeches, and interviews; to work to improve LCD features and functions across the industry; to promote new ideas for specifications and inventions; and to connect the entire industry supply chain through meetings and standards, research, presentations at international conferences, published articles and white papers, and quarterly newsletters. But most importantly, the organization aims to boil all this down to one specific goal: making things easier for the consumer.
"The very large and fragmented LCD supply chain has had no organization to help it thrive via education or debate but now they do," said Ross Young, founder and president of DisplaySearch, which is a sustaining member of the LCD TV Association, in a press release. "The $540 billion LCD supply chain will be better served because of it."
"With the participation in the LCD TV Association, Micronas can join forces with key suppliers in the LCD TV supply chain, creating compelling value propositions for the benefit of consumers," a representative for sustaining member company Micronas Semiconductor said.
Another goal of the LCD TV Association is to simplify the decision process on the consumer end. According to Berkoff, many people are still put off by the sometimes complicated nature of shopping for and using a new TV.
"A lot of things like contrast ratio and lumens and response times get abused and misunderstood," Berkoff explained. "So instead of confusing people, our angle is to help educate them and say 'You know what? That's just not useful.' What is useful is seeing how (the display) looks, and whether it be professionals looking at (an LCD TV) to say it looks better or it be (the consumer) in the store looking at it to see that it looks better, the human eye is a wonderful thing and we can't belittle it."
Still, he acknowledged, it may not always be the case that an LCD TV is what a consumer wants or needs. The Association's plan is to promote LCD TV as the simple and intelligent choice in the 47-in.-and-below market where, Berkoff said, economics and image quality show LCD is the clear winner.
But buying a new TV is not the only process this global non-profit wants to simplify. With sustaining members including Corning Incorporated, DisplaySearch, LG.Philips LCD, Micronas Semiconductor, Syntax-Brillian Corp., and the U.S. Display Consortium, the association hopes to unite the entire LCD supply chain and facilitate improvements to the technology across the board. By making changes that are easy and inexpensive to institute and that help simplify the usage of LCD TVs for the end consumer, Berkoff hopes to boost the quality of the technology, its sales, and the user experience all at once.
"When you put bread in a toaster, you don't ask if it's 4 x 3 or if it's 16 x 9; it just works. So the same thing should happen in a TV," Berkoff said. "You shouldn't have to push 12 buttons to watch a wide-format movie or to change back to 4 x 3. And there are ways for the electronics to automate that and do exactly what they should do, to just toast the bread. Every consumer device should work like a toaster, and right now, TVs are not that simple. That's one of the ways we're trying to get people on the same page to say well, how could we make it that simple?"
The group recently announced the first simple improvement it hopes to make an industry standard with the introduction of its "Green TV" logo. The logo will appear on LCD TVs that conserve energy by monitoring external ambient light using an inexpensive sensor. Not only will this add perceived value to the LCD TVs sporting the logo, but it will encourage manufacturers not already using low-cost, energy-saving sensors to start installing them in their products, saving consumers money and helping the environment at the same time, Berkoff explained.
"I think we spend too much time competing with one another rather than realizing that if you just make things better for the consumer, the market will get bigger and everyone wins," Berkoff said. "It's hard, in a very competitive world to say, 'Let's help everybody.' But if you don't do that, then you don't make a better product. We need to raise the bar and make quality better across the board."
— Jessica Quandt
Global Display Solutions Acquires Clearview Displays
ROSCOE, Ill. – Global Display Solutions (GDS) announced on Feb. 1 it had acquired bonded display-enhancement services provider Clearview Displays LLC. Clearview will become a subsidiary of GDS, known as GDS Clearview, the company said, and will retain its staff and headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., while reporting directly to GDS headquarters in Roscoe, Ill. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
GDS hopes that the acquisition will help it build its existing range of display technology while offering superior manufacturing and engineering services to its customers in North America to support fast turnaround times on advanced bonded display services, according to a GDS press release.
"This strategic acquisition will allow GDS to provide our existing customers with an improved range of products and a better all-around service," Marco Cohen, sales and marketing manager at GDS, said in a company statement. "We believe that GDS Clearview will also help to support faster turnaround times on advanced bonded display services, and we hope to further grow our presence on the West Coast as a result of this acquisition."
Clearview specializes in display enhancement solutions and is known for its G-Bond process, which overcomes optical challenges for display-product manufacturers, particularly when used with outdoor displays such as ATM screens, outdoor kiosks, and gas-pump displays. According to a company statement, GDS expects the G-Bond technology to enhance its current product ranges, in particular its outdoor-display collection, which requires advanced optical enhancement and sunlight readability.
Through the acquisition, GDS' customers will have access to an even wider range of optically bonded surfaces and solutions with panel sizing ranging from 6.4 to 65 in. and options such as touch-screen enhancement and optical filters.
In January 2007, GDS Clearview moved into a new 8,000 sq.-ft. facility four times larger than its previous capacity.
Neurok Optics, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Form Joint Venture Company to Develop 3-D Products
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Neurok Optics LLC, a U.S.-based 3-D technology development and marketing company, and Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO), a Taiwan-based thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal-display (TFT-LCD) manufacturing company, announced on Feb. 13 they had formed a new joint venture company to develop and market 3-D products for the electronic-entertainment market as well as for commercial and professional visualization applications. The new company, iZ3D LLC, will ship its first product in May.
"To enhance its leadership in the 3-D display market, the newly formed iZ3D LLC combines superior iZ3D technology and marketing capabilities with CMO's leading manufacturing techniques and worldwide distribution presence," David Chechelashvili, vice president of marketing for Neurok Optics, said in a company statement.
The first iZ3D LLC product to reach the market will be a 22-in. W iZ3D advanced video monitor capable of displaying into-screen and out-of-screen 3-D images with passive polarized glasses, according to a press release. It is designed to replace standard 2-D monitors while maintaining commercial image quality and display brightness.
According to the company, its technology takes three-dimensional applications such as PC games, 3-D entertainment, and professional stereo applications, and allows users to experience them in a way they never could with a standard 2-D monitor. It creates 3-D depth while minimizing eyestrain, spatial disorientation, headache and nausea.
The unit is powered by any personal computer with a dual output video card. Smart capabilities allow it to be used for regular 2-D office tasks as well as 3-D viewing. Specifications include 1680 x 1050 resolution, up to 120° viewing angle, 5-msec response time, and 300-nit brightness with 800:1 contrast ratio. It has dual interface capability with DVI and DVI/VGA inputs.
"This is a very exciting, growth-oriented time in the display industry because the rapid pace of innovation in production technology is matched by equally rapid progress in display technology—this joint venture is ideal because it capitalizes on the strengths of both companies," a CMO official commented in a press release.
Corning Inc. announced on Feb. 7 its plans for a $160 million expansion of its Gen. 8 liquid-crystal-display (LCD) glass substrate plant in Shizuoka, Japan. Substrate production is expected to begin by mid-2008. Corning supplies the majority of glass substrates for Sharp's Gen. 8 fab in Mie Prefecture, Japan, which focuses on LCD TVs that are 40 inches and larger, Corning said. At 2160 x 2460 mm, Gen. 8 is currently the largest glass substrate available, but next-generation substrates are already on the horizon, according to Corning, which is already beginning its development of Gen. 9 and larger.
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., announced in February that it has developed the industry's first thermally enhanced chip-on-film (TECOF) package for the display driver IC (DDI) used in large-screen high-resolution liquid-crystal-display (LCD) TVs, improving thermal heat dissipation by 20% over a conventional COF package, allowing the DDI to last longer and operate with greater reliability. Samsung has developed a new material for the thin metal tape component that has the optimal properties for effectively maximizing heat dissipation. The company has also developed a new automated process for attaching the metal tape to the COF package. By applying Samsung's new TECOF package, the thermal emissions from the DDI are quickly released via the metal tape, minimizing heat build-up. The new TECOF package reduces the number of source DDIs for a full-HD LCD TV from 14 313-channel DDIs to 8 720-channel DDIs. Samsung has completed reliability testing of the new TECOF package and expects to ship its DDI product with the new TECOF package technology in Q2 2007, the company said.
Endicott Research Group (ERG) announced on Feb. 12 the launch of its new Smart Force™ family of LED driver solutions for high-bright LEDs (HBLEDs) used in a wide range of LCD backlighting applications. Available as an LED driver board or a complete kit including driver board and LED rails, ERG's Smart Force LED Solutions provide compact, reliable, electrically efficient and low-cost technology for driving HBLEDs to backlight LCDs from 6.4 in. to 20 in. diagonal and larger, according to an ERG press release. ERG's Smart Force LED Solutions are offered as standard products with input voltages of 12, 24, or 48 V in single, dual, or three-channel versions, with custom designs readily available. The driver board with 48 V input measures only 34 x 60 mm in size.