IPS Alpha to Become Matsushita Subsidiary

JCN Network: On February 15, 2008, Hitachi and Matsushita Electric Industrial announced an alliance reached on December 25, 2007 by Hitachi, Matsushita, and Canon.

Under the terms of this agreement, Matsushita will acquire a 24.9% stake in Hitachi Displays, which is a wholly owned Hitachi subsidiary that makes small/medium LCD panels, from Hitachi by March 31, 2008. After that Matsushita will acquire all issued shares of IPS Alpha and all IPS-based large-area LCD panel businesses owned by Hitachi Displays for JPY66 billion. Hitachi will consider holding up to 10% of IPS Alpha. Hitachi Displays will retain majority ownership of IPS Alpha until the deal is completed.

Under U.S. accounting standards, IPS Alpha will become a Matsushita consolidated subsidiary as of March 31, 2008. Matsushita is already the most formidable PDP TV player in the world and this move will enable the company to be a top TV company regardless of technology. Matsushita will play a key role in IPS Alpha’s new Gen. 8 plant in cooperation with the Hitachi Group.

This will also be a positive development for LG.Philips LCD, soon to be LG Display. In many cases, big brand companies such as Dell and HP try not to sole source LCD panels. Recently brands have mixed IPS and VA panels for the same models with conflicting success. Customers who end up getting a LCD monitor that happens to have a IPS panel will either like it for color fidelity and little-to-no color shifting at angles or dislike it for the slightly less contrast ratio from dead center relative to VA panels. With IPS Alpha, even though most of its capacity will be geared toward LCD TV panel production, a dual sourcing option is available for the brands, especially for LCD TV applications.

IPS Alpha to Build Gen. 8 LCD Plant

On February 15, 2008, IPS Alpha Technology announced plans to construct a Gen. 8 TFT LCD plant in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. IPS Alpha currently has a Gen. 6 LCD plant running. As the name suggests, IPS Alpha makes use of In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology that was originally developed by Hitachi, who is part of the joint venture. IPS technology is best known by professionals who require great color fidelity at different viewing angles and is used extensively by companies such as Apple for its Cinema HD line of LCD monitors. Construction for IPS Alpha’s Gen. 8 LCD fab is expected to begin in August 2008 with volume production to commence in January 2010. IPS Alpha is investing about JPY300 billion (about US$2.8 billion) for the new plant. The addition of the Gen. 8 fab will allow IPS Alpha to increase production from 6 million 32″-equivalent LCD panels to 21 million by 2013. The other company who is heavily invested in IPS technology is LG.Philips LCD, who will be soon changing its name to LG Display.

Source: IPS Alpha (PDF) via DigiTimes

[tags]IPS Alpha, G8, Display Manufacturer, IPS, In-Plane Switching, LG Display[/tags]

US Department of Energy: $21 Million for Solid State Lighting R&D

On February 13, 2008, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it would invest almost $21 million in 13 projects to advance solid-state lighting (SSL). The DOE realizes that lighting system efficiency can be doubled and carbon footprint reduced by using SSL technology instead of incandescent and fluorescent technologies. SSL uses a semiconductor that converts electricity into light and include light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).

The 13 projects include Add-Vision Inc. (P-OLED), Crystal IS, Inc. (GaN LED), Georgia Institute of Technology (III-N LED), Lehigh University (InGaN LED), PhosphorTech Corporation (SSL illumination material), DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (SSL transportiong/hole blocking materials), DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories (InGaN materials for green LED), Arkema Inc. (Atmospheric pressure chemical vapor deposition for OLED lighting), Cree, Inc. (White SSL for general illumination), General Electric (LED with synthetic jet cooling), Osram Sylvania Development Inc. (Down lighting luminaire with 73% overall system efficiency), Philips Lumileds Lighting, LLC (135 lm/W 1050 lm warm white-LED for illumination), Universal Display Corporation (Phosphorescent OLED-based ceiling illumination system).

This is a good step toward increasing energy efficiency for the entire US. As many of you know, incandescent light is more efficient at generating heat than light. On the other hand fluorescent light requires the use toxic materials such as mercury and is a potential hazardous waste and must be disposed of correctly. Although $21 million is not a great deal of investment by the DOE, it is nonetheless a step toward improving our nation’s energy efficiency and reducing our dependence on electricity-generating natural resources such as crude oil, which is mostly imported.

Source: NetworkWorld

[tags]Add-Vision, Arkema, Crystal IS, Department of Energy, DOE, General Electric, Georgia Institute of Technology, Lehigh University, Osram Sylvania Development, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PhosphorTech, Sandia National Laboratories, Solid State Lighting, SSL[/tags]

Corning Expands LCD Capacity in Taiwan

On February 6, 2008, Corning announced that its BOD has approved a US$453 million investment toward expanding its LCD glass substrate manufacturing capacity  in Taichung, Taiwan. The Taichung glass facility currently manufactures Gen. 5 glass and larger substrates, including Gen. 8, using the company’s Eagle XG glass, an environmentally friendly glass that does not have any heavy metals. The glass facility opened in 2006 and the current expansion will be its fourth phase of expansion. Phase 4 mass production will begin in Q1’09 and will target the LCD TV market.

Source: Corning 

[tags]Corning, LCD Glass, Glass Supplier, LCD TV, G5[/tags]

LG.Philips LCD to Become LG Display

lg_display_logo_450.jpg

LG.Philips LCD: On February 12, LG.Philips LCD (LPL) announced that it will change its name to just LG Display (LGD). Of course, its shareholders will need to approve the name change at the end of this month. As you can see the name Philips will be gone and that is due to a significant reduction of its equity stake in the LPL joint venture. Once approved, LPL will register the new name on March 3 with both the official name and trademark to be LG Display. The entire process is expected to be finished by June 2008. I wonder if LPL will also change its ticker symbol from LPL to something else like LGD.

Corning Gorilla Glass

CorningOn February 8, 2008, during its annual investor meeting in New York, Corning introduced a new type of glass geared for touch display applications. The new type of glass is called Gorilla and can withstand daily use and abuse without being scratched. The glass is fusion-formed and does not require any polishing. The Gorilla glass is now commercially available and is being supplied to mobile device manufacturers. I hope most glass used in mobile devices as well as notebook PCs, LCD monitors and LCD TVs can have scratch-resistance built-in.

Explay oio Companion: Laser & LED Nano-Projector

During SID 2007, I was given a demonstration of Explay‘s oio, a laser & LED-based hybrid nano-projector. The picture quality was surprisingly good despite being generated from a projector the size of a deck of cards. Engadget just posted a blog stating that Explay’s oio Companion will be showcased at the Mobile World Congress that will be held next week, Feb. 11 through 14, in Barcelona.

explay_oio_companion.jpg

The laser & LED hybrid structure allows the picture to be in focus all the time. I am quite certain the prototype that I saw last year was battery powered and it should be since the oio Companion will be used mostly in on-the-go and mobile office situations. Those who are in sales that need to make frequent presentations and often in not-so-large meeting rooms would find something like Explay’s oio Companion a lifesaver. In addition to having a diminuative size and being lightweight, the nano-projector allows the business traveler to forgo larger notebook PCs and simply carry the smallest and lightest (with a usable keyboard).

[tags]Explay, Laser, LED, Pico Projector, Nano Projector, Front Projector[/tags]

Lite-On LCD Monitor Fire in China

Reported by DigiTimes,  Lite-On Technology’s LCD monitor OEM production base located in Dongguan, Southern China suffered a fire on February 3. The legal name of the production facility is Titanic Capital Services, a Lite-On Group affiliate. According to the report, there are 19 LCD monitor production lines and 15 were affected by the fire. Lite-On manufactures LCD monitors for Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo and these companies will certainly be impacted.

We are in a slow season when it comes to LCD monitor demand so the impact should be much less than if we were entering the second half of the year.  However, the report indicates that HP would be hardest hit with the fire.

It is estimated that Lite-On will ship about 20 million OEM LCD monitors in 2008. Unless the damage to  79% of its production capacity is minimized and restored quickly, it will be difficult to see a scenario where Lite-On can accomplish its goal. Other OEM manufacturers like Innolux Display, TPV Technology and others will likely see increased orders in the short term.

Economies of scale is extremely important when manufacturing commodity items such as LCD monitors but it seems a prudent move to diversity production just a bit in case emergencies strike as was the case with Lite-On.

Source: DigiTimes

[tags]Lite-On, LCD Monitor, Innolux Display, TPV Technology, HP, Acer, Dell, Lenovo[/tags]

Eizo FlexScan SX3031W: 30″ LCD Monitor

Eizo FlexScan SX3031W

Size: 29.8″ (76cm)
Pixel Format: 2560 x 1600
Brightness: 260 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio: 900:1
Response Time: 12ms (typical on/off), 6ms (gray-to-gray, GTG)
Viewing Angle: 178/178 (@ CR >10:1)
Color Gamut: 100% NTSC, 97% Adobe RGB
Color: 8-bit (16 million), 12-bit lookup table (68 billion)
Input: DVI-D (1 dual link, 1 single link), USB (2)

eizo_flexscan_sx3031w.jpg

The Eizo FlexScan SX3031W’s most prominent feature, besides its 30″ size, is its wide color gamut of 100% NTSC. The SX3031 is clearly geared for consumers that regard accurate color reproduction a priority. Although the LCD is limited to 8-bit color producing 16 million colors, the lookup table is 12-bit providing a palette of 68 billion colors. Grayscale is also processed at 16-bit allowing enhanced gradation for smooth tone transitions. Other functions such as the Digital Uniformity Equalizer (DUE) that corrects brightness and chroma uniformity errors ensure accurate picture reproduction on the display. The SX3031W seems to be a great display for those serious about color, but the only thing that seems to be slightly less than ideal is the brightness level: 260 cd/m2.

Source: Eizo

[tags]Eizo, 30″, LCD Monitor, 2560 x 1600, WCG-CCFL, Wide Color Gamut, DVI[/tags]

MacBook Air: LCD

LCD

According to iFixit’s teardown of the MacBook Air, some juicy information has been revealed regarding the LCD:

  • Display assembly weight: 465g (34% less than on the MacBook)
  • LCD panel thickness: 3mm, thanks to the LED lightsource.
  • Inverter board: None needed due to the use of DC-powered LEDs.
  • Cable: Just one that provides both data and power to the display.

Apple and its display supplier(s) have done a tremendous job of thinning down and simplifying the design. I have also been told the glass used to manufacture the LCD is just 0.25mm thick. Also, the LCD panel uses Chip on Glass (COG) technology to incorporate a lot of driver ICs and other circuits directly on the glass.

Source: iFixit

[tags]Apple, 13.3″, Notebook PC, MacBook Air, Chip on Glass, COG, LED Backlight, LED[/tags]