ITASCA, IL—Once a key player in the development of plasma display panels (PDPs) for industrial applications, Japan’s NEC ended 2008 by announcing it was to drop plasma screens from its line-up and concentrate instead on LCD. Talking exclusively to SCN, Pierre Richer, president,
Pierre Richer, NEC NEC Display Solutions, said the decision is a logical one, given how the market for flat panels has evolved.
“Plasma is still a viable technology,” Richer said. “It’s got beautiful video, and if you are in the consumer space, that’s a great thing to have. But, as a company, NEC is a leader in digital signage, and LCD is better suited to showing data than plasma.”
Richer cites a number of other reasons for NEC’s shift in strategy. “We have a green initiative from Tokyo to do everything for the environment that we can, and when you’re in a market like FIDS [Flight Information Display Systems], running screens 14 hours a day, seven days a week, the power consumption of LCD is significantly lower.
“And while, historically, there was a price premium for choosing LCD over plasma, that is starting to change. LCD TV is nearly the same price as a plasma TV, and though the price of a professional display is never going to be as low as that of a consumer product, it is no longer prohibitive.”
Looking ahead, Richer says that in addition to increased affordability, contractors can expect his company’s LCD panels to benefit from enhanced connectivity and ruggedization—both subjects
NEC will be shipping its largest (82-inch)
LCD later this year. close to integrators’ hearts.
“We already have an open-slot architecture where you can put a single-board computer into the back of the screen for networking if you want to transmit information for your signage network,” Richer said. “Plus, outdoor usage is big! Quickserve restaurants make 75 percent of their sales in drive-thrus, and that’s where they want to upsell their customers with signage. So we’re looking at ruggedizing, weather-protecting our screens with enclosures, and so forth.”
Finally, Richer insisted that while NEC will be shipping its largest (82- inch) LCD later this year, the availability of larger screens will not of itself grow the market: “Size isn’t the issue. Signage is all about location, content, and the effectiveness of your message.”