Display Industry Review

Published - Apr 2004| Analyst - Review | Code - SMC001E
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In this annual section, we take a look at the major developments in the display industry in 2003, look at the major trends driving this growing technology, and make some projections for 2004 and beyond. We look at the overall industry and some of the specific display product sectors. Our objective is to recount the report_highlightss of the past year, and focus on the prospects for displays in the upcoming year and beyond.

With the economy slowly working its way back to some semblance of growth, displays in general had an excellent year in 2003. Screen sizes grew, especially for televisions and professional flat panel monitors. And small screens proliferated for a variety of mobile and handheld displays, while wireless capability assumed new importance. Typical of the past several years, flat screens competed against CRTs and began winning. The LCD was still king in flat panels, but other technologies made inroads. Following are some of the companies and products that made news in 2003.


Early in the year, the Home Electronics Division of Hitachi America Ltd. introduced three new digital wide screen projection TVs at the CES Show. report_highlightsed by the new 46-inch tabletop model, the new line uses high brightness CRTs, and a high contrast 0.52 mm screen. It delivers 1,280 horizontal lines of resolution and offers deep level of fine-tuning. During the summer, L.G. Philips stepped up mass production of color picture tubes for the high-end television market. The company became a major supplier of 28-inch Wide Screen Real Flat and 29-inch Real Flat Tint CRTs. The company produces one in every four picture tubes sold. And in December, NEC-Mitsubishi Electronics Display of America announced the next generation of NEC AccuSync Series CRT monitors. CRT makers continue to produce improved products to protect their market.


More innovations and new models continue to be announced for this most popular of the flat panel displays. In January, Lumileds Lighting and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation announced three new TFT-LCD modules that utilize Lumiled's Luxeon line of high-brightness LEDs as backlights. These systems were developed for the multimedia, medical and point-of-sale/factory automation markets. The new LEDs deliver high flux brightness, better color fidelity, longer life and mercury-free operation. Also in January, 3,000 18-inch LCDs were ordered from NEC-Mitsubishi Electronics by Barclay's Capital, which has the largest trading floor in Manhattan. Barclay's was impressed by the quality of the displays and the savings in workspace they afforded. LCDs can accommodate more traders and increase the amount of available desk space. In March, a 40-inch LCD entered the market, made by NEC-Mitsubishi Electronics. Having produced a 30-inch model only 3 months previously, this was another milestone in making large screen LCDs. High brightness levels of 450 cd/m2 enabled a 600:1 contrast ratio. Response time is only 23 ms so this model can deliver full motion video without the appearance of "ghosting." Shortly after, Sharp Microelectronics announced the design-in of its 3.5-inch transflective LCD into a handheld device made by Dell Computer. Incorporating Sharp's Advanced TFT technology (AD-TFT), the module provides superior color, brightness and viewability. Sharp also announced an LCD that switches between 2D and 3D viewing in May. Planar Systems Inc. introduced a 21.3-inch LCD monitor that combines video with applications-true convergence. Evidence of lower LCD prices was demonstrated a month later when IBM presented a 15-inch LCD for just $329, a vast difference from only a year or two earlier. In October, Fujitsu Microelectronics Europe marketed a 22-inch LCD monitor for multimedia applications. The 22-inch screen is the equivalent of a 25-inch CRT. Finally, in December, several product developers at Merck KGaA received awards for developing new liquid crystal technologies called vertical alignment (VA) and in plane switching (IPS). These two technologies will do much to push LCDs into the television market. VA makes possible the production of displays with clear contrast and low viewing angle dependency. IPS is responsible for fast switching time and can enable larger screens for movie viewing. Liquid crystal technology continues to advance and enable more display products.


The premier large screen display experienced a good year with declining prices and more applications. Cornea Systems marketed a 42-inch model for just under $4,000 with a built-in television tuner, picture-in-picture capability and multiple inputs to incorporate a variety of video sources. At this price, plasma is a possibility for more consumers. Sony Corporation made a plasma display designed for signage and entertainment. The 42-inch model is $4,999 and is geared for marketing promotions, digital signage and point-of-purchase advertising. In the summer, Panasonic introduced a 42-inch display that offered the industry's highest contrast images at a 4000:1 ratio. With increasing volume production, plasma technology's prices are falling, which makes this technology more accessible to a wider audience.


There was a lot of activity in the projection sector during 2003. Hitachi America Ltd. offered the first projectors with network and wireless capabilities. Both models are compatible with a variety of lenses, making them well suited for a mix of industries, such as and education. In the Spring, Optoma Technology Inc. presented the world's first XGA DLP home theater projector for under $5,000. It has a contrast ratio of 2000:1 and is two times faster than professional film-based movie theaters. In May, an 82-inch TV projector, the largest ever, was marketed by Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America. It features liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) technology and is priced at about $20,000. It is intended, obviously, for those dedicated home theater enthusiasts. In the summer Epson America produced a digital projector for $999. InFocus did the same for its award winning X1. At these prices, projectors are affordable to almost everyone. The InFocus model has DLP and Faroudja technology. And in July, InFocus marketed a wireless personal projector for the "tech savvy" road warrior. It weighs in at less than two pounds and is handy for the mobile presenter. Projectors are a very competitive display technology.


Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) continued to advance. Eastman Kodak announced that its zoom digital camera was the first to use an AMOLED to display bright, sharp images for better on-camera viewing. Universal Display Corp. and Vitex Systems, a developer of barrier coating technology, demonstrated an ultra-thin phosphorescent OLED built on plastic and packaged with a thin film, multi-layer barrier coating. Cambridge Display Technology (UK) got it first order for a Light Emitting Polymer display in April. The company also said it had improved lifetime performance of LEPs to 11,000 hours. DuPont launched a new brand of its OLEDs under the name "Olight." It is derived from OLED and light. Samsung and Universal Display showed a high resolution, full color 2.2-inch OLED at the SID Meeting in May. And in August, Kodak licensed Truly International Holdings, in Hong Kong, to make and sell passive matrix versions of its OLED technology.


Continuous Grain Silicon, developed by Sharp Microelectronics, was designed into a new line of Viewcam digital camcorders. CG Silicon is an LCD technology that integrates all the circuitry needed to drive and operate a display onto the glass substrate itself. Corning Inc., told investors it would see between 20% and 40% annual revenue growth for its display glass through 2006. The increase in LCDs in desktops and larger screen sizes were cited as contributing factors. Carbon nanotubes were mentioned by Southwest NanoTechnologies and ConocoPhilips as a possibility for enabling major display technology improvements. And SI Diamond Technology got a reissued patent that it says will make possible the use of carbon nanotubes in Field Emission Displays. Finally, Cree Inc. introduced blue light emitting diodes for display backlighting.


Microdisplay activity was very active in both projection displays and on its own. Kopin Corporation introduced their smallest microdisplay yet at 0.16-inches in response to manufacturers demand to build smaller mobile consumer products. Brillian Corp. demoed a super high contrast 720p HDTV1 LCOS-based light engine for the rear projection industry. eMagin Corp. introduced a hands-free operation display for the military market. In the headworn market, I-O Display Systems is selling a portable, wearable and durable headset that offers video resolution higher than a standard TV. And The MicroOptical Corp. introduced a color eyewear system featuring wireless technology. New technology was report_highlightsed by Motorola's results from its carbon nanotechnology research. The company is working on a "nano-emissive" display, which enables manufacturers to integrate nanotech advances into large flat panel displays.

China dominated Industry Happenings during 2003. Densitron announced the commissioning of their new joint venture LCD plant in Kun Shan, China. It will be under local and Taiwanese management. And Providential Holdings signed a letter of intent with Xoceco, a Chinese public company. Xoceco was awarded a distributorship from Providential and the latter will make certain LCD TV products for Xoceco. In domestic news, Texas Instruments shipped their two-millionth DLP subsystem. DLP is used in about 72% of all home projectors.

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Published - Mar-2003| Analyst - Review | Code - SMC001D

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