NPD: Blu-ray 92.5%, HD-DVD 7.5%

These numbers are based on latest NPD Group report as blogged by Engadget. The numbers are based on, I believe, retail sales of Blu-ray and HD-DVD players from places like Best Buy.

I do believe that a single high-definition format for optical discs would help the market grow a bit faster since there are many folks waiting for just that to happen and not currently purchasing either format. But, let’s not jump to conclusions based on what NPD has to say.

I personally don’t purchase many products from Best Buy and only when they have a sale of a certain item that is cheaper than anywhere else I can get them. The 24″ LG monitor is a good example (though I had to return it). The $449 price was simply unbeatable. At other times, I make my purchases elsewhere. It is my belief that retail is undergoing a massive transition.The shift is from shops like Best Buy to places like CostCo. I can usually get a much better deal at CostCo, however CostCo doesn’t have all the models that Best Buy carries. For instance, Sony’s KDL-46V2500 (46″, 1080p, 7000:1 CR, HDMI) is currently going for $1999.99 at Best Buy. I can’t find this exact model at CostCo, but I did find the KDL-46VL130 (46″, 1080p, 1800:1 CR, HDMI) for $1699.99. This price is after a $300 coupon and is limited to purchases between January 22 and 26. So there are some limiations. Also, as you can see, the KDL-46VL130 has a lot less contrast ratio, so the $300 cheaper price might be warranted.

If you want the best deal and you know exactly what you want and don’t mind dealing with an online retailer, you can price comparison shop using online services like PriceGrabber and get a great deal online. Using PriceGrabber, I was able to fine the same $1999.99 KDL-46V2500 being sold at Best Buy for just $1595.00 (before tax and shipping) by B&H Photo. That’s a lot of savings.

So my point is that more and more TV purchases are being made at CostCo, Wal-Mart and online. This, unfortunately, is not being captured by NPD. So the Blu-ray 92.5% and HD-DVD 7.5% retail market share for players in the week ending January 12 can be quite misleading. I will bet that Blu-ray will eventually win as major studios have sided with Blu-ray, as can be seen with Warner’s recent decision to go with Blu-ray. But to think that HD-DVD is dead already would be a hasty decision.

Source: Engadget

Update 2008.02.15

Wal-Mart announced that it has chosen to sell Blu-ray movie titles and hardware come June. That means no more HD-DVDs or players at Wal-Mart from June. This is according to Check Out, a Wal-Mart blog. Since Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the US, and if I had to guess where the future lies for high-definition optical media, I will have to guess that Blu-ray will come out the winner. It is just a matter of time now.

Update 2008.02.19
Toshiba, the developer and main supporter of HD-DVD, announced that the company will “no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders.” In the press release, Toshiba will stop supplying the retail channel by the end of March 2008. You can read the entire press release here. I thought the death of HD-DVD would come a bit later, but with recent developments such as Wal-Mart backing Blu-ray exclusively, it was a smart move by Toshiba to end the high-definition DVD war. This also allows all of us who have been waiting for a standard to finally go out and purchase that Blu-ray player that we’ve been eying!

[tags]NPD, Sony, Blu-ray, HD-DVD, LCD TV, Toshiba, Wal-Mart[/tags]

NEC NL16012AC27-20 and NL204153AC21-09: 21.3″ Medical LCDs

NEC NL16012AC27-20 Specifications:

  • Size: 21.3″
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Pixel Format: 1600×1200
  • Brightness: 950 cd/m2
  • Contrast Ratio: 800:1

NEC NL204153AC21-09 Specifications:

  • Size: 21.3″
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Pixel Format: 2048×1536
  • Brightness: 800 cd/m2
  • Contrast Ratio: 750:1


NL160120AC27-20

NEC: On January 2, 2008 NEC Electronics America, Inc. introduced two new 21.3″ TFT LCD modules intended for medical imaging applications. These two modules are the first to incorporate NEC LCD Technologies’ ultra-advanced, super-fine TFT (UA-SFT) display technology in a 21.3″ LCD. The UA-SFT technology improves light transmittance by 20% allowing for brighter displays with the same backlight. In addition, the 21.3″ medical panels use a high-intensity direct-backlight system for improved brightness. Samples are available now and pricing can be acquired via NEC Electronics America.

The 1600×1200 pixel format does not seem to be high-density enough for x-ray or MRI applications that require extreme fine detail. The 2048 x 1536, however, should be quite a bit more adequate. When little spots can mean the difference in the health industry, I would hope that there are absolutely zero pixel and sub-pixel defects on 100% of these panels.

HannStar Display and Sharp Sign Patent Sharing Agreement

HannStar Display (HSD) signed a patent sharing agreement with Sharp . Each other’s patents related to LCDs will be shared and is retroactive to January 1, 2007 and will expire on December 31, 2011. This might be in response to the current litigation underway. Sharp sued HSD in a Japanese court in January 2007 regarding overdue license fees. Five months later, in June 2007, Sharp filed a complaint in a US court alleging patent infringements against HSD, HANNspree, and HANNspree California.

The patent sharing agreement, most likely, will be more beneficial toward Sharp. In my opinion, HSD signed the agreement in response to overdue license fees and alleged patent infringements. Sharp probably has substantially more patents related to LCDs, but HSD probably has some IPS-related patents that Sharp does not currently have. This might be in response to IPS Alpha, a LCD joint venture among Matsushita Electric, Toshiba, Hitachi Displays and a 100% owned subsidiary of Hitachi, that has seen some activity recently.

Bloomberg reported on December 25, 2007 that Matsushita might purchase Toshiba’s stake in IPS Alpha to about 45%. Matsushita is known for its Panasonic brand, which has been focused on manufacturing plasma display panel (PDP) based TVs. This move will allow Matsushita to gain more influence in the LCD TV market. Currently, Matsushita has 30% share of IPS Alpha while Hitachi has 50% and Toshiba has 15%. IPS Alpha’s Gen 6 Mobara plant is located in Chiba Prefecture, Japan and is expected to increase its annual production capability by 20%.

Source: DigiTimes, Bloomberg

[tags]HANNspree, HannStar, Sharp, Display Manufacturer, IPS Alpha, LCD TV, Matsushita, Plasma Display Panel, PDP, Plasma TV, PDP TV, Toshiba[/tags]

Dell 2408WFP: 24″ LCD Monitor with DisplayPort

Dell 2408WFP

Size: 24″ Wide
Pixel Format: 1920 x 1200
Contrast Ratio: 1300:1
Brightness: 400 cd/m2
Response Time: 6ms (Gray-to-Gray, GTG)
Color Gamut: 102% NTSC
Viewing Angle: 178/178
Inputs: DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI (2), VGA, Composite, S-Video, Component, USB-up, USB-down (4)
Price: $748 ($599 as of 2008.04.13)

The Dell 2408WFP replaces the very excellent (but slightly high-priced, for Dell) 2407WFP-HC. Almost everything is the same except for the improved contrast ratio and the addition of a DisplayPort input. Oh, there is one additional DVI input for a total of two. Contrast ratio has improved from 1000:1 in the 2407WFP-HC to 1300:1 in the 2408WFP. I’m not sure what the advantage of having DisplayPort as the new connection allows for higher video data bandwidth. However, DVI (single-link) is more than capable of driving a LCD display with 1920 x 1200 pixels. Additionally, my computers (PC & Mac) do not have DisplayPort interfaces and I don’t see why I would need one in the near future.

I am not completely sure what type of panel it is using, but I would guess either a S-IPS or PVA panel. I am leaning toward that it is a S-IPS panel since Dell has had used S-IPS panels for its high-end monitors. It is certainly not a TN panel since this model exhibits excellent viewing angles of 178 degrees.

The price for the 2407WFP-HC was $699. You will need to pay $49 more for the 2408WFP. Not that much, but if you don’t need that additional DVI, DisplayPort or a slightly improved contrast ratio, then maybe it would be wise to wait for 2407WFP-HC prices to fall and then snatch it before inventory runs out.

Update 2008.04.13
I just checked the price of the 2408WFP and it has fallen to $599. That’s a drop of $149 in just 3 months. But even with that drop, there are potent competitors out there for $100 less. Take for instance Samsung’s 2493HM. Although it sports a TN LCD panel, the 10,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio is great (according to Overclocker’s Online) and a quick check on Pricegrabber reveals you can purchase the 2493HM at a decent price of around $480, shipping and tax would be extra. For those that need a fast LCD monitor for gaming and do not care too much about viewing angles (since you’ll be the only one using it) or color fidelity, the 2493HM might be a good choice. Of course, the 2408WFP is still one of the better choices out there for those who require excellent viewing angles and color fidelity on a 24″ LCD monitor.

Dell is also putting DisplayPort into a lot of its new notebook PCs. If Dell continues to incorporate DisplayPort, I believe DisplayPort can be a strong contender to become the next generation connection for IT devices. But there is HDMI coming from the CE domain and you can’t count out DVI just yet.

Source: Dell (2407WFP-HC, 2408WFP) via Engadget

[tags]Dell, 24″, LCD Monitor, DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, 1920 x 1200, Wide Color Gamut CCFL, WCG-CCFL[/tags]

Samsung SyncMaster 2493HM: 24″ LCD Monitor with HDMI

Samsung SyncMaster 2493HM

Size: 24″ Wide
Aspect Ratio: 16:10
Pixel Format: 1920 x 1200
Contrast Ratio: 1000:1, 10000:1 (dynamic)
Response Time: 5ms (Gray-to-Gray: GTG)
Brightness: 400 cd/m2
Viewing Angle: 160/160
Input: HDMI, VGA, DVI
Other: 4-way adjustable stand (height, swivel, tilt, pivot), speaker, 3-year warranty.
Price: $599

Samsung Electronics America, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Corporation, showcased its SyncMaster 2493HM 24″ LCD monitor and its slightly larger sibling, the 25.5″ SyncMaster 2693HM at Macworld.

Just a quick comment on the 25.5″ monitor: couldn’t they simply make it 26″? The model name suggests that the monitor is 26″ but in fact it is 25.5″. This might be confusing to the customer.

Unlike the slim LCD TVs that I saw at CES, most 24″ LCD monitors continue to be rather chunky. The 2493HM is no exception. (The Samsung link below will take you to the 2493HM page where you can view the monitor at different angles.) I am willing to guess that this 24″ is thicker than some 42″ LCD TVs that I saw. Why is that?

The design is plain, which is nice. It doesn’t provoke a “Wow!” reaction. One of the best designs I have seen (aside from Apple‘s Cinema Displays) are monitors from HP. But I digress. The 2493HM has a feature that did wow me and that’s the dynamic contrast ratio of 10,000:1. That is very very good. I am not completely sure how this is achieved, but from the looks of it, the CCFL-based backlights are being modulated to be in sync, in terms of brightness, with the video that is being displayed.

The HDMI input might be nice but, with just one, is simply not enough. If you bought this as your main display for your PC, then you’ll be making use of that HDMI port (with a HDMI-to-DVI cable). If you want to connect your PlayStation 3, you’ll either need to disconnect your PC or get a HDMI hub, an additional cost.

(Update 2008.03.16) A comment came in saying that the 2493HM has both VGA and DVI ports in addition to HDMI, so I checked it out on Samsung’s site. And yes, the 2493HM has all three connectors. So you can use it for your PS3, PC and then some. Thanks for the comment!

Pay close attention to the viewing angle. It is just 160/160. What that tells me is that this monitor uses a TN panel, an inferior technology to Patterned Vertical Alignment (PVA) that Samsung uses for its more advanced models. I don’t particularly like spending $600 for a TN display and I recommend you don’t either.

All in all, this seems to be a OK display with ho-hum looks and general features with just one great feature: its dynamic contrast ratio of 10,000:1.

Source: Samsung via Yahoo!

[tags]Samsung, 24″, LCD Monitor, 1920 x 1200, HDMI, Dynamic Contrast[/tags]

Sharp to Supply LCDs to Syntax-Brillian

Syntax-Brillian and Sharp signed an LCD panel supply agreement where Sharp will guarantees a minimum of 700,000 LCD panels in 2008 for 32″, 37″, 52″ and 65″ LCDs, with an option to purchase additional LCD panels. Also, Syntax-Brillian and Kolin have exclusive rights to purchase Sharp’s 65″ 120Hz LCD panels through September 2008.

So now Syntax-Brillian has two major suppliers: LG.Philips LCD (LPL) and Sharp. It will be interesting to see which LCD panels go into which LCD TV sets as the two companies manufacture brilliant LCDs but with some differences. LPL is known for its Super IPS (S-IPS) panels while Sharp is known for its Advanced Super View (ASV), a technology based on VA. For those who want dead-on superior contrast ratio, ASV is the way to go. For more color uniformity at angles, S-IPS is known to be better. We will see.

Source: Syntax-Brillian via DigiTimes

[tags]Syntax-Brillian, Sharp, LCD TV, 32″, 37″, 52″, 65″, LG.Philips LCD, LPL, LG Display, In-Plane Switching, IPS, Super-IPS, S-IPS, Advanced Super View, ASV[/tags]