LG 15-inch OLED TV

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A flickr user by the name of LGEPR has put up some sexy pictures of LG’s 15-inch OLED TV. If this is the same 15-inch OLED TV panel that I saw back in CES 2009, then the resolution should be 1366 x 768: 720p HD capable. The 15-inch OLED panel that I saw at CES was extremely thin at just 0.85mm (millimeter) thick. With what seems a completed chassis, LG’s 15-inch OLED TV could be headed for shelves the world over by the end of this year. Price? I have no idea but I would guess it would be more expensive than Sony’s 11-inch XEL-1 OLED TV at $US2499.99. Head on over to flickr for more pictures.

Source: flickr

China: Hotbed for LCD Construction

BOE @ 8 According to The Wall Street Journal, BOE Technology Group, a Chinese display supplier, announced on August 27, 2009 that the company would lead a consortium to investing about US$4.1 billion to construct an 8th generation LCD fabrication plant in Beijing. The construction will take a little over two years to build.

A Major LCD TV Market China is becoming the go-to location for LCD plants. Not because the cheap labor: LCD panel manufacture requires very little human intervention. The main reason why major LCD manufacturers are going straight into the heart of China is because of demand: China’s demand for LCD TV is expected to hit 20 million units in 2009. That’s a considerable jump from 15.7 million units in 2008. By 2011 there will be three major LCD TV markets: North America, Western Europe and China. These three markets will account for about 90% of the worldwide LCD TV market. LCD TV penetration in China will hit 50% in 2009 and that number will grow to almost 70% in 2010. Of course China is also making it very tempting to do business there with low-cost land. Another benefit from locating LCD production in China is the increased efficiency in procuring parts, driver ICs for example, since the country is an electronics supply chain global center.

Top Players LG Display announced earlier in the week its intentions of constructing a LCD plant, also 8th generation, in Guangzhou for a total investment of more than US$3 billion. LG Display shipped 2.5 million LCD panels into China in 2008. With a LCD fab located within China the total number of LCD panels that will serve the China market will undoubtedly increase significantly. Samsung has also expressed interest in building a LCD plant in China.

Source: WSJ

gScreen Spacebook: Dual 15.4-inch LCD Notebook PC

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gScreen’s Spacebook is quite geeky but quite tempting. The Spacebook is unlike any other. And that includes the Lenovo W700ds. The Spacebook sports two 15.4-inch LCDs! These LCDs will sport LED backlights. I’m not sure if gScreen will do it but if the company provides a 1920 x 1200 option on each of those 15.4-inch LCDs then we’re talking about a massive 3840 x 1200 of total resolution. Of course just the mention of that is making some of you have eye spasms. Interestingly enough gScreen is based in Alaska–must get cold working up there. Specs include:

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo’s
  • RAM: 4GB
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 900M GT
  • HDD: 7200 RPM
  • Optical: DVD
  • OS: Windows 7
  • Battery: 6- or 9-cell
  • Price: About US$3000

gScreen is planning to have its Spacebook available during the holidays via Amazon. The company is also working on a dual 17- and 13-inch version.

Source: Gizmodo via Engadget

Large-Area TFT LCD Panel Shipments Grow 5-Percent in July

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Up & Up According to the DisplaySearch Monthly TFT LCD Shipment Database, large-area TFT LCD panel shipments increased 5% M/M and 39% Y/Y to 49.2 million units, a monthly record. In step with unit shipments, revenues also increased 11% M/M and 6% Y/Y to US$5.9 billion.

LG Display On Top LG Display took 24.7% market share of unit shipments in July followed by Samsung with 23.4% and AU Optronics (AUO) with 16.8%. Based on area shipments Samsung took top honors with 26.8% share with LG Display following in second position with 25.1%. Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) edged out AUO with a 15.7% share versus 15.6%. LG Display and Samsung combine for 28.1% of unit shipments and 51.9% of area shipments.

Notebook PC LCD panel unit shipments increased 14% M/M and 36% Y/Y to 16.7 million units. Notebook PCs have increasingly gained popularity over desktop PCs thanks to increased performance matching the needs of most PC users, portability, the proliferation of WiFi hotspots as well as 3G capabilities. Netbooks have been all the rage but if you look carefully enough there are plenty of fully equipped notebook PCs with large-enough LCDs for less than US$500. With students going back to school, the great majority of those purchasing new computers will be toting brand new notebook PCs instead of desktops.

LCD Monitor panel unit shipments decreased 1% M/M but increased 26% Y/Y to 17.9 million units. I am not sure why LCD monitor demand isn’t as strong but I’m going to throw some darts. Demand from the transition from CRT- to LCD-based monitors should be declining as penetration rates increase to more than 90%. Also, LCD monitors last considerably longer than notebook PCs, so replacement demand for LCD monitors has a long cycle. Productivity enhancements from multi-monitor setups are not easily grasped. I have seen many notebook PC users with an external LCD monitor but the LCD on the notebook PC is almost always turned off. Finally, smaller LCD TVs can easily be used as a monitor replacement.

LCD TV panel unit shipments increased 3% M/M and 69% Y/Y to 13.5 million units in July. I would have expected a stronger result as panel that are just now being shipped will be integrated into LCD TV sets and then distributed through retail channels for the upcoming shopping season. There is a fairly long supply chain for LCD TV sets especially when it is distributed to retailers within a region and then put up on shelves, connected and tuned for potential customers to see.

Forecast David Hsieh, VP of DisplaySearch stated that the strong results in July “… indicates strong recovery in end-market demand and increased utilization at panel makers… Despite the price increases, OEMs and brands are building inventories for the coming holiday season.” I hope David is right. But a strong recovery in end-market demand might not be the real reason why panel shipments are increasing. I think it is the expectation that end-market demand will recovery that is driving increased panel shipments right now. He mentions it himself that OEMs and brands are stocking up inventory. That expectation might not come to fruition.

Samsung, LG To Buy LCD Panels From Each Other

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Trading Markets: Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, two of the largest chaebols in South Korea, agreed to purchase LCD panels from each other according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy officials. Under the deal, Samsung will purchase at least 40,000 17-inch wide LCD monitor panels every month from LG Display. LG Electronics will purchase the same number of 22-inch wide LCD monitor panels from Samsung’s LCD division. The government has been strongly encouraging the two companies to work together to establish South Korea’s leadership in LCD manufacturing.

Will this arrangement really help South Korea to solidify its leadership in LCD manufacturing? Currently Samsung and LG Display are two of the world’s largest LCD manufacturer. According to DisplaySearch’s latest Monthly TFT LCD Shipment Database, LG Display captured 24.7-percent unit shipment market share in July followed by Samsung with 23.4-percent. Taiwan’s largest supplier, AU Optronics (AUO), took the third spot with a 16.8-percent share. In terms of area shipments Samsung took the top spot with a 26.8-percent share followed by LG Display with 25.1-percent. Taiwan’s Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) edged out AUO with 15.7-percent versus 15.6-percent. If you combine LG Display and Samsung on a unit base the two captures 48.1-percent and based on area shipments that increases to 51.9-percent. South Korea is dominant. But will this 40,000 unit exchange between the two top suppliers help further solidify South Korea’s leadership? Read on for analysis regarding Rationale, Social Democracy, Korea Not Taiwan, Short End, Government Stay Out.

There is a certain reasoning that underpins the logic that South Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy is using. Both LG Display and Samsung have been procuring LCD panels from Taiwan suppliers such as AUO and CMO when they could have supplied each other. LG Display and Samsung’s LCD fabrication plant designs are different enough that between the two of them they there are no holes in terms of LCD size. Instead of purchasing from Taiwan, Samsung could easily have purchased from LG Display. But in reality it isn’t that easy. Samsung and LG have been bitter rivals for a very long time. These two chaebols compete in everything from air conditioners, restaurants to LCDs. Many graduates from top universities end up working for one of the chaebols, but once you start your career in one you’ll most likely spend the rest of your life working there, if you’re lucky. Lifetime employment is not what it once used to be but for the few who have the diligence, the connections, the smarts, etc. it is still a possibility: once a Samsung, always a Samsung. So it is not unreasonable to assume that both Samsung and LG loathed the idea of working together. In fact it was this bitter rivalry that helped propel them to the top.

South Korea is a social democracy. The government wields immense power and can influence businesses, even chaebols, to do its will. At the top of the power pyramid is the president. No wonder there is so much corruption. The tried and true quote from John Emerich Dalberg Acton (a.k.a. Lord Acton) comes to light at the end of every presidential term: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” South Korea wants to be an economic power but the nation has significant challenges. There is Japan a fully-industrialized country with enormous wealth, technology and human capital just across the East Sea; North Korea borders the country and is a source of instability; and China is a dragon that has woken up from a long hibernation and is increasingly becoming powerful–politically and economically–and is challenging the world for hegemony. South Korea has established itself has leader in many areas thanks to a close relationship between the government and the chaebols that has led the country to capture top positions in ship building, semiconductors and LCDs.

From South Korea’s point of view the bitter rivalry between Samsung and LG has had a side effect of bolstering Taiwan’s LCD suppliers. When Samsung needs additional panels it has never gone to LG Display and vice versa. Instead Samsung would go to Taiwan and purchase LCD panels from AUO, CMO or others. The South Korean government wants to stop this.

It seems LG Display has gotten the short end of the bargain. The math is simple: 17-inch versus 22-inch. Samsung is selling to LG a significantly larger LCD panels that are worth more than the smaller 17-inch ones. Based on DisplaySearch’s latest PriceWise update a 5:4 17-inch LCD monitor panel costs an average of US$79. Compare that to a 22-inch wide LCD monitor panel that’s has an average price of US$105 in mid-August. The total dollar amount that LG Display will be purchasing from Samsung is US$4,200,000. And Samsung will be purchasing just US$3,160,000 worth. This isn’t exact science since a 17-inch wide LCD panel might have a slightly higher price compared to the squared one but it should show there will some difference in total sales generated by Samsung and LG Display with this deal. The more the two companies do business together the better off Samsung will be relative to LG Display. But maybe there is something else going on. Samsung might have manufactured too many 22-inch LCD panels while LG Display might have done the same thing with 17-inch wide LCD panels. And maybe Samsung will be giving LG Display a significant discount for taking 400,000 out of inventory.

LG Display has a single 17-inch LCD monitor panel: LM171WX3 with a 1440 x 900 resolution, 250 cd/m2 of brightness, 60-percent NTSC, 800:1 contrast ratio, 8ms response time and 160/160 viewing angles.

Personally, I am not in favor of government-induced business deals like this. If Samsung absolutely needs panels from LG Display the two companies will find a way to do business. If not, well, no business. That’s how it should be done. The government should stay out of brokering deals and instead concentrate on funding universities and research institutes so more engineers can develop the next-generation of displays and stay ahead of the game.

Asus Eee PC-branded eBook Reader: EeeReader

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EeeReader That name is just a guess on my part. It’s probably not going to be that. Asus is getting into the ebook reader action. According to DigiTimes, Asus is planning to introduce an Eee PC-branded ebook reader by the end of the year according to Jerry Shen, president of Asus. The ebook reader market is getting quite crowded. Here is a partical list:

US$99 There are, of course, considerably more brands and ebook readers but you get the point: there are choices, lots. So what does Asus bring to the table? The Eee PC brand. Remember what Asus did? To exaggerate just a little, Asus caused the netbook big bang. The company did that by bringing together cheap components into a tiny notebook PC, rebranded it as a netbook and sold it for considerably less than even the cheapest notebook PCs. Now we’re looking at a 20 million netbook market in 2009 (I think). Can Asus do that with ebook readers? I hope so. I look forward to a full-functioning touch-capable 3G-enabled E Ink-based ebook reader for US$99 that I can pick up at any electronics retailer or at a bookstore. Remember to make one specifically designed for students that can take physical abuse: drops, kicks, spills, dust, magic markers, etc. How do you differentiate from other cheapo ebook readers? Make it cheaper!

Source: DigiTimes

Sharp NetWalker PC-Z1: 5-inch Smartbook

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Smartbook Sharp‘s NetWalker PC-Z1 is a 5-inch smartbook. The 5-inch LCD sports a netbook-like 1024 x 600 resolution but using about half the space. That’s some small pixels! Make sure your eyes are up for it. Not only are the pixels small, the NetWalker itself is pretty small: 161.4 x 108.7 x 19.7 – 24.8mm. For folks in the US, that’s: 6.35 x 4.28 x 0.77 – 0.98-inch. The weight? Just a featherlight 409g or 0.9lb. In that small and light chassis is a Freescale i.MX515 CPU running at 800MHz. Other specs include: 512MB of memory, 4GB flash storage, WiFi BG, USB (2), microSDHC expansion. The OS is Ubuntu.

3 Seconds That’s how long it takes for the NetWalker to boot–pretty darn fast. Of course, a MacBook that’s sleeping will wake up even quicker. I wonder if the PC-Z1 has a sleep feature; if it does it would come back to life in an instant I’m thinking. You want it to last too and it will, for 10 hours.

Big Ugly Cylinder There are a couple of things I’m not liking about the NetWalker. The LCD could certainly have been bigger. I don’t know why the bezel on the sides have to be so thick; it is massively thick, and ugly. The second thing that I immediately noticed was the big fat cylinder in the middle. Sony has been using this design for its netbook and notebooks but those are much bigger units so cylinder doesn’t look so big relatively speaking. On the NetWalker it looks gigantic! Sure you get 10 hours with that humongous cylinder but isn’t there a prettier way?

Â¥44,800 That’s about US$500 and will be available in the Japanese market on September 25. In my opinion the NetWalker needs to walk a bit more and lose that fat right in the mid-section. It also needs to lose a few yens and come down to about Â¥30,000 or US$320.

Source: AkihabaraNews via Engadget

BenQ M2700HDS: 27-inch 1080p LCD Monitor

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BenQ‘s M2700HDS is a 27-inch LCD monitor with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. Brightness is 300 cd/m2, response time is 5ms and contrast ratio is 1000:1. Connectivity includes USB (2), VGA, DVI, HDMI (2), Composite, S-Video, and Component. The M2700HDS is being billed as an ideal monitor and TV. But I disagree: Where’s 120Hz for reduced motion blur? How about LED backlight with local dimming for enhanced contrast? It will also require a S-IPS or S-PVA LCD panel. The M2700HDS will probably work reasonably well for both monitor and TV tasks but it isn’t ideal for a TV. By a long shot.

Source: AkihabaraNews

Sony S Series Walkman

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Sony announced on August 26, 2009 its new S Series Walkman. The S Series Walkman sports a 2.4-inch LCD with a 320 x 240 resolution. Integrated speakers are part of the equation and will pump out music from MP3, WMA (DRM), AAC (non-DRM) and Linear PCM audio files. AVC (H.264/AVC) Baseline Profile, MPEG4 and WMV (DRM) videos are supported too, at up to 30fps. There are two versions: 8GB and 16GB. You can playback music for 42 hours and 6.5 hours of video. Voice and FM recording are available. You can pre-order at Amazon for US$129.95.

Source: AkihabaraNews