LG.Philips LCD (LPL) Breaks Ground for LCD Module Plant in Wroclaw, Poland

LG.Philips LCD, PAIZ: Back in September 7, 2005, LPL announced that it plans to build a LCD module production plant in Wroclaw, Poland. LPL is the first to announce such a production factory in Europe. LPL planned an initial capacity of 3 million modules per year with an investment of 429 million euros by 2011. By 2011, the Wroclaw plant will have a an annual capacity of 11 million units. The focus will be on modularizing 26", 32", 37" and 42" LCD TVs. Western Europe with about 330 million in population captures roughly 30% of the world's TV market. North America, or more accurately, the US, captures another 30%. Without a production base near Europe, and with very high taxes for anything made outside of Europe, it was no surprise that some LCD manufacturers would add a module factory base near Europe. 

LPL followed through with its plans and started to break ground for the LCD module plant. On June 14, LPL announced that it held a ground-breaking ceremony for its new module plant in Wroclaw, Poland. Many dignitaries attended including the Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, LPL's Vice Chairman and CEO Bon Joon Koo, Wroclaw Mayor Rafal Dutkiewicz, and Kobierzyce Commune Mayor Ryszard Pacholik. LPL plans to commence mass production in March 2007 with an initial capacity of 3 million module per year, just as planned.

Hitachi: Ready to Absorb Fujitsu Hitachi Plasma Display (FHP)

Hitachi: FHP started off in 1999 as a 50:50 joint venture between Fujitsu and Hitachi to manufacture plasma display panels (PDPs). Now, Hitachi announced that it will absorb the development, procurement and administrative operations from FHP. With giants in the LCD side of the camp such as LG.Philips LCD, Samsung, Sharp and AUO, Hitachi needs to do all it can to retrench its plasma efforts to fend them off. Or is it really. Hitachi is also a part of IPS Alpha, a consortium display manufacture that uses in-plane switching (ISP) technology that is touted as the best to deliver the highest color fidelity. Hitachi is the technology provider at IPS Alpha and they have announced recently plans to double or triple their capacity. The growth in LCD TVs is undoubtedly a lure. So, what exactly is Hitachi up to? Are they a plasma player or a LCD player? I think they are trying to replicate the success of Samsung and LG. Both of these Korean conglomerates have plasma and LCD manufacturing capabilities and both have been very successful doing both. Maybe that's what they are up to.

Back to the story: Back in March 2005, Hitachi bought out a portion of Fujitsu's stake in FHP and made FHP a Hitachi subsidiary. FHP also acquired PDP module patents at the same time. Now, Hitachi owns about 80% of FHP. Hitachi will most likely buy out the rest. That's speculation on my part. Once Hitachi owns 100% of FHP, FHP might go away or be something like a Samsung SDI for Samsung. SDI, though it has the name Samsung in front it, is a thoroughly independent unit with its own P&L and most of the time SDI is competing severly against Samsung's LCD unit. Hitachi did mentioned that the company and FHP will "implement a more unified business strategy." Hitachi will push the Wooo brand in the local Japanese market and use Hitachi worldwide. FHP will be aggressively incorporating its ALIS (Alternate Lighting of Surfaces) technology to more of its PDPs. ALIS alternately displays odd and even lines at high speeds–a faster interlacing technology that enables high-resolution images without using more electrodes.

I would like to add a bit more background to this story. On May 27, 2005, Hitachi announced that it will invest 85 billion yen to build a third PDP plant at the Miyazaki Works location. By using a state-of-the-art technology to increase panel production efficiency, the third plant's capacity will increase to 100,000 units per month by 2H'06, ending March 31, 2007. Capacity will continue to increase to 200,000 units per month by the end of FY2008, ending in March 31, 2009. Miyazaki Works' second plant has a monthly capacity of 100,000 units already. In total, by FY2006E, FHP will have a capacity of 200,000 units per month and 300,000 per month by FY2008E.

Optoma BigVizion HDBV3100: 100″ In-Wall 1080p DLP

Optoma has a 100" 1080p DLP you can install right into your wall. The HDBV3100 will cost $20,000 and you will need to get a separate custom installer to transform your wall from off-white to great color! Considering 100" was reached by LCD and plasma only recently and sell for many multiples, I think Optoma's solution is not only a great deal, it makes very good use of your really big, but blank, wall. There are smaller (and therefore cheaper) sizes at 90" and 80".

Depth is 30", so your wall will need to be pretty thick. Connections include HDMI, Component, S-Video, VGA and composite. The bezel is customizable to match the color of your wall (or not match).

The display has a contrast ratio of 10,000:1, has an aspect ratio of 16:9, a pixel format of 1920 x 1080, a lamp life of 4,000 hours (not that long, and you'll need to contact that custom installer again so keep that phone number handy) and it will weigh 750lbs!

Source: SciFi.com, Optoma

LG.Philips LCD Begins Wroclaw, Poland LCD Module Plant

On June 14, LPL held a groundbreaking ceremony for a LCD module factory in Wroclaw, Poland. Mass production is scheduled to commence in March 2007 with an initial capacity of producing 3 million modules per year. By 2011, annual capacity will increase to 11 million modules. LPL chose Poland for high quality labor, good financial conditions, and proximity to Europe, which the company is eyeing to sell its LCD TVs to. DisplaySearch, a market research firm, claims that Europe was the largest LCD TV market with a 41% market share in 2005. I'm assuming this is a 41% unit share. I'm also assuming this is Western Europe since Eastern Europe is having trouble just getting good quality water and consistent supply of electricity. In addition with accelerated increase in disposable income in China, it won't be too long before China becomes the world's largest market for LCD TVs. If you apply about a 2-3% rule for the portion of the population who is upper-class and who definitely are able to purchase LCD TVs, that share translates to roughly 20~30 million consumers, assuming a total population of only 1 billion. That's a lot! The US should be about a 1/3 of the total LCD TV market too.

Update: LPL will reportedly invest 429 million euro in the plant. The ground breaking ceremony was held in Kobierzyce, near Wroclaw.

Source: Forbes, The Korea Times

CMO: 100K 22″ Wide LCD Monitor Panels Per Month by Q3E

Aggressive announcement by CMO's Kuo. That's a lot of LCD monitor panels when so far there hasn't been an announcement by any monitor manufacturer for a 22" wide version. CMO is already shipping 500K 19" wide LCD monitors that sport 1440 x 900 pixels. A weird resolution, but a resolution that brings the cost down to lower than $299 and will soon hit $249 on the streets. A 22" might come in at around $499, which would be really nice. CMO's G5 plant can cut eight 22" panels while its G5.5 plant can cut 12. The 22" resolution will be 1680 x 1050 or WSXGA+. These are strange times. When you consider the size options for LCD monitors at and above 20", it is mind boggling: 20" 4:3, 20" 16:10, 21.3" 4:3, 21" 16:10, 22" 16:10, 23" 16:10, 24" 16:10, 30" 16:10 and soon to be announced 26" and 27".

Source: Digitimes

AUO 19″ 2ms LCD Monitor

2ms is getting to be very quick indeed! The 2ms response time is the average time it takes for LCs to response to 256 x 256 levels of gray. The panel has a 160-degree viewing angle and a 800:1 contrast ratio. Guessing from the limited viewing angle, this is a TN panel. AUO claims that this is the first TN panel that uses overdrive technology. Overdrive technology over-shoots current to accelerate LC twisting resulting in lower response times. The company states that this panel is RoHS compliant and does not use lead. Looks like playing CS, BF or CoD2 will be that much better with the blazing speed of only 2ms!

Source: Digitimes

Asahi Glass Plans Glass Capacity Expansion

Marketwatch: Asahi shut down a 250K m2 power plant site in 2003 and is in the process of finding ways to use that site to expand its glass capacity. Asahi will need to lease the land from Kansai Electric if the company decides to go foward with expansion plans. It takes roughly 6 months to go from ground-breaking to mass production of glass for LCDs, which is a lot shorter than the roughly 1 year it takes for a LCD fab to go from nothing to producing LCDs. Because of the shorter time it takes to bring up glass plants, most glass suppliers like Asahi, NHT and Corning can make sure that there is a good balance between supply and demand. That is, of course, if everything goes to plan. Currently, there is a stockpile of LCD panels in inventory and prices are expected to fall quickly to blow inventory out. Also, LCD suppliers like AUO and LPL have announced that Q2 results will be poor with reduced production numbers. A great time for consumers to grab those hot deals!

Update: The plant that Asahi was considering to build was not a LCD plant but was a PDP plant. The plant will increase capacity by 50% and is located in Osaka. Asahi is expected to invest about 30 billion yen.

Chipbond and International Semiconductor Technology (IST) Delay Capacity Expansions

Chipbond and IST are driver IC packaging companies. Driver ICs go into LCD panels and control the thin-film-transistors (TFT) that control the currents that control the liquid crystals (LCs) that control light that control what you see in front of your screen. Boy, that was a mouth-full. These two companies are expecting slow Q2 sales and capacity expansions slated for 1H'06 have now been delayed to 2H'06.

Chipbond will maintain tape carrier package (TCP) and chip on film (COF) packaging capacity at 30 million per month by 2006E. Its gold-bumping capacity will remain the same at 180K per month. IST's chip on glass (COG) capacity is expected to reach 31 million per month by 2006E and its TCP+COF packaging capacity will hit 38 million per month.

Source: Digitimes

Seiko Epson 7.1″ E-Paper with 1536 x 2048 Pixels

CIO: The company claims its 7.1' e-paper with 1536×2048 pixels is the world's highest resolution and approximates an A6-sized paper (105mm x 14mm). Flexible memory chips are used and is incorporated into the plastic substrate, enabling the screen to bend. The screen has E-Ink technology.

The only value-add that flexibility adds to displays is the enhanced durability. That's it. In most cases, from what I know, people prefer flat screens to curved screens. Didn't we already go through this phase with TVs? Rollable displays? I don't think so. Foldable? Not even possible if you want a seamless display. The 1536×2048 pixel format is very nice and should bring about some very crisp text.

AUO LCD TV Technologies

Facts: On June 13, a day before FPD Taiwan 2006, AUO announced that it will focus much of its energies on improving LCD TV performance. There are four key technologies that AUO will be focusing on: AMVA, SPD, HiColor and Image Processing Technology.

AMVA stands for Advanced Multi-domain Vertical Alignment. Samsung has theirs and it is called PVA for Patterned Vertical Alginment. Sharp's ASV, Advanced Super View technology is also based on VA technology. AUO's AMVA creates more domains than MVA to reduce color shifts at off angles and provides 178 degree viewing angles with contrast ratios of 10:1 and greater. With improved color fidelity at these angles, contrast ratios are improved to over 1200:1.

SPD stands for Simulated Pulsed Driving that provides CRT-like images by using overdrive and scanning backlight techniques. SPD reduces motion blur and has an average response time of 4ms, which is equivalent to 8ms MPRT (Motion Picture Response Time).

HiColor technology uses LED backlights instead of the conventional CCFLs providing a color gamut of 105% NTSC. Color fidelity is improved. Color Management Function is incorporated to eliminate inconsistent chromaticity between light source and signal.

Image Processing Technology incorporates input image data management with dynamic backlight control. The dynamic backlight control adjusts contrast, sharpness, hue, color temperature and saturation to maximize on screen performance.

Opinion: Seems like IPS and VA technologies will reign in large LCD TVs. Overdriving circuitry has been around for at least two years and significantly improves LC rise times. Black frame insertion to mimic a pulse driven display helps to improve LC fall times. The transition from CCFL to LED might take some time due to CCFLs improving color gamuts from 72% to 92% NTSC. Other technologies such as HCFL (Hot Cathode Fluorescent Lamp) might be a better choice in some situations as it has a longer life than either CCFL or LED. Dynamic backlight control that adjusts brightness based on image content has and will improve contrast ratios dramatically. All in all, these technologies will bring LCD TV performance very close to CRTs and at a great price in the near future.

Source: IBC News