LCD is Back Big - and Brighter Than Ever
By David Keene, Executive Editor
News a few weeks back that Samsung’s LCD biz had been realigned– and pundits’ and mass media pronouncements that LCD was on the way out, well, that “news” brought laughter from this analyst. The LCD panel has never been stronger in this market. It will continue to dominate the TV market. Any move to OLED or other platforms is years away– well beyond any need for a reevaluation of the market. Samsung’s LCD display business is healthy. In fact the reorg at Samsung in February was an internal accounting move to allow Samsung to develop a price structure whereby they increase profitability from sales from one Samsung division to another, and also to allow Samsung to more efficiently price and distribute their glass to their many OEM partners. Essentially, Samsung is both a competitor, and a manufacturing partner of other large LCD display providers, hence the need to change their distribution and pricing structure to reflect that.
A few hours on the show floor at the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas in early March, should have convinced arm-chair experts that the LCD panel is not only here to stay– in fact, this year there is a bumper crop of new LCD technologies. High Brightness LCD, new more architecturally interesting LCD panel shapes, and transparent LCD panels were all on view at the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas in March, proof that this technology is not just here to stay but the large manufacturers are indeed adding new features that not just keep the technology fresh but open up new markets and applications.
The most important development in LCD panel product introductions this year is the ability to now get more brightness out of the LCD panel. Specifically, the LED-backlit LCD panel. The use of LED as a light source replacing CCFL, began several years ago (they are more energy efficient, and have other advantages including the color temperature of the image produced. LEDs permit the manufacturers to provide a wider gamut and tune the LED backlight to produce more accurate colors on screen). But just as in LED-light engine video projectors, there have to date been some brightness limitations on LED-backlit LCD panels. This is not to say LED-backlit LCD panels have not been bright, the last few years since their introduction– in fact they achieved brightness levels greater than the CCFL they replaced. But LED’s, when you try to juice them up to get more light output, produce excessive heat. So before this year, you could not get much more than about 1500 nits out of the screen.
But a walk around the show floor at DSE in March demonstrated that a variety of LCD display manufacturers are now capable of making much brighter LCD displays. The brightest out there– the week of DSE at least: the DynaScan DS2 LED backlit High Brightness Series (they have a unit rated at 5,000 nits– the unit’s back has a heat radiator similar-looking to a car’s radiator). And what’s interesting is that this company did not have any LCD panels at last year’s DSE show. Also showing LCD panels with impressive brightness were LG Electronics (showing the 47WX50MF with 2000 nits), Planar (Planar’s Clarity Matrix HX60 video wall, 1,900 nits) and Sharp (the Sharp PN-A601, with 2,000 nits). Logically, some of the units above were being shown at DSE in outdoor configurations. The next wave in sales in the digital signage market will come in the outdoor arena like QSR drive-through displays.
Here is a roundup of some of the more interesting LCD displays from the DSE show.
Sharp LED-backlit LCD Displays
Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA) unveiled its full line of professional LED-backlit LCD displays, now available in screen size classes of 60-, 70- (69” diagonal) and 80-inches. Sharp’s 60” (diagonal) PN-A601 is designed for shopping malls, transportation hubs, college campuses and sports and entertainment facilities where high-ambient light may be prevalent. This 60" (diagonal) LED-LCD monitor offers ultra-high brightness of 2,000 cd/m2 for superb visibility, even in brightly lit and high ambient light settings. The PN-A601 also provides exceptionally high image quality in full 1080p HD, with the energy savings of a full-array backlight in combination with local dimming. Much of the PN-A601’s performance – including outstanding black levels, high contrast and superb energy efficiency is due to local dimming of the LED backlight. Local dimming allows specific groups of LEDs to be dimmed for greater control of brightness and darkness in different areas of the screen. Since LEDs in a black area of the screen image can be independently turned off, local dimming can help to considerably reduce power consumption. This helps the PN-A601 deliver significantly better contrast (up to 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio with local dimming set to HIGH) and brightness (up to 2,000 cd/m2) compared to conventional LCD monitors, while utilizing less power.
For more information: 866-4-VISUAL (866-484-7825) or e-mail ProLCD@SharpUSA.com
DynaScan High-Brightness Professional LCD Panels
DynaScan Technology introduced two new 55-inch high bright and ultra-high bright narrow bezel professional LCDs, the DS55LT4 and DS55LT6. The DS55LT4 features a brightness rating of 2,500 cd/m, while the DS55LT6 sports a maximum brightness of 5,000 cd/m. DynaScan has applied its expertise in LED optics to achieve daylight viewable images up to 5,000 nits, making them easy to view even in direct sunlight applications such as storefront windows or outdoor enclosures. The displays feature a local dimming LED back light technique for a remarkably high contrast picture as high as 1,000,000:1 (dynamic). With direct local dimming, darker areas of an image receive less backlighting than lighter areas, as opposed to CCFL and edge-lit LED backlights which illuminate an entire screen at all times causing blacks and dark areas to appear washed out. The DS55LT4 and DS55LT6 feature a narrow 11.5 mm bezel for tiled video wall applications. With built-in video daisy chaining, a single 1080p source can be used on video walls up to 6x6 in size without the need for any additional external video wall controller. To increase performance and prolong the lifespan of the display, the DS55LT4 utilizes a fanless thermal management system. Heat generated by the display is radiated away from high temperature areas while a sensor continuously monitors the internal temperature to protect the system from overheating. All of this is done without the use of any fans, resulting in silent operation and greatly reducing the potential of mechanical failure. This is especially beneficial in areas with a lot of dust which can eventually obstruct a vent and cause the display to overheat.
The DynaScan DS55LT4 and DS55LT6 professional LCDs are available for order through authorized DynaScan dealers or by visiting DynaScan’s website http://www.dynascanusa.com
Planar Mosaic Video Wall System
Planar Systems, Inc. introduced at DSE the Mosaic Video Wall System, providing three flat panel tiles, including a new square LCD. Planar Mosaic allows designers to integrate three different LCD tile sizes and shapes—including a truly square LCD tile measuring 21.6 inches on the diagonal. The Planar Salvador is a 1:1 aspect ratio tile measuring 15.6 inches / 39.5 cm on each side, that allows for creative installation and is akin to the shape of other building materials. The Planar Vincent™ (48 inches / 122 cm wide) and the Planar Pablo™ (40 inches / 103 cm wide) are both rectangular LCD tiles. Utilizing proprietary Mosaic Ensemble software and hardware, the tiles can be rotated at virtually any angle and mounted in any position, encouraging designers to experiment with negative space while extending project budgets. The Planar Mosaic video wall system features LED backlit displays, consuming less energy than traditional LCD displays. The video tiles boast a slim installation depth of less than 4 inches (10.16 cm), which is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Planar Mosaic will be available for purchase through Planar’s worldwide network of authorized resellers in spring 2012.
For more information: www.planar.com/mosaic
LG Outdoor High-Brightness Solution with Fiber Optic Display
A 47-inch LED backlight LCD panel from LG Display was on display at the DSE show. The panel utilizes a fiber optic display with 2000 nit high-brightness (five times brighter than a general TV) resulting in images displayed outdoors being much brighter and clearer than ever before. Also, the 2000 nit high-brightness panel uses Local Dimming technology to reduce power consumption to levels lower than that of existing LCD panels by turning off the darker parts of its backlights.
Additionally, LG Display’s LCD panels employ a proprietary liquid crystal structure technology that enable the screen to continue showing images even when the surface temperature of the panel rises to 110°C. Conventional LCD panels begin to turn black when surface temperatures exceed 75°C, and also reach 85°C if left outdoors for 30 minutes at an outside temperature of above 30°C. LG Display’s solution results in a public display technology made much more practical for the everyday environment.
For more information: www.lgdisplay.com
LG Transparent LCD
Also on exhibit at DSE was LG Display’s 26-inch see-through panel embedded with IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology and featuring HD resolution (1366X768). The panel includes a brightness control function for sunlight when being utilized as a window, and can also work as a display during the night via an embedded LED backlight. The panel can serve a variety of public display purposes and is also capable of being produced in larger 40 to 50-inch sizes with full HD resolution (1920X1080).
For more information: www.lgdisplay.com
Okaya Electronics Transparent LCD
This concept model for a next-generation vending machine, which features a see through display, was developed by Sanden, a large manufacturer of vending machines, in conjunction with Okaya Electronics and Intel. The unit was on display at the Scala booth at DSE. The model has a vertical, 65-inch, Full HD transparent display. The products behind the display can be seen through the glass, and you can simultaneously see high definition text, pictures, and Flash animations on the display.
For more information: www.okaya.com