Plasmonic Nanophotonics: Better Than Retina Display

Researchers at the University of Michigan claim they can beat the resolution (pixel density as in PPI) of Apple’s Retina Display by an order of magnitude. How? With plasmonic nanophotonics. They’ll need to change that name if they want any chance of succeeding in the market place. How does this work?

Wired:

Vary the spacing between the grates, and white light appears in different colors. Instead of the multiple layers of glass, metal polarizers, and filter sheets in a conventional LCD, the polarizer is the color filter. The whole color component of the screen is a three-layer all-metal dielectric stack.

What’s it great for? High resolution, low power consumption, flexible displays, etc. The whole display is made up of just three metal dielectric layers. Very cool technology but my question is: when can I have a state-of-the-art smartphone with this plasmonic nanophotonics display technology for $199 with a new two-year agreement?

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is a 7-inch tablet running Android 2.2 and is expected to be announced during the IFA show in Berlin, Germany on September 2nd. What I like most about the Galaxy Tab is that you can wrap your fingers around it, unlike the iPad. The iPad, with its 9.7-inch IPS display, is one awesome tablet that does quite a lot. But the problem with the iPad is that it is a bit heavy when all you want to do is read, and it’s a bit big when all you want to do is check email. Maybe Samsung’s Galaxy Tab will fit that gap between a smartphone and the iPad.

There’s a video of the Galaxy Tab on Wired (make sure to lower your volume) and it looks like portrait thumb typing is a go; there seems to be some type of phone functionality; the Android 2.2 seems to be quite responsive but the webpages, though they load quickly, seems to lag a little when scrolling, mobile TV is there (probably just for Korea) and finally the display is a non-OLED LED-backlit LCD. I wonder what the pixel format is… probably something like 1024×600 in landscape. Although that’s fairly on-par with the iPad’s 1024×768, I’m guessing the next iPad will have quadruple that: 2048×1536. Check out my rumor post about Liquidmetal iPhones and Retina Display iPads.

Although it might be weird to be handling such a big device for photographs or video capture I’m glad Samsung decided to include a camera on the back of the Galaxy Tab. Video calls is a feature touted in the official video (link below) so there should be a front-facing camera too. Rumors: The Galaxy Tab is headed to Verizon Wireless in the US (Source: Boy Genius Report). Official Samsung Galaxy Tab site… and it works without Flash. Interesting.

TCL Subsidiary China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT) Expects 8.5G LCD Fab Production Commencement In Q4’11

China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT), a subsidiary of TCL, is expected to begin equipment installation at its 8.5G TFT LCD fabrication plant in May 2011 and commence mass production of LCD panels in the fourth quarter according to company CEO Cheng-Ming He. CSOT’s 8.5G LCD fab will focus on 26, 32, 46, and 55 inch LCD TV panels.

TCL and Century Science & Technology Investment share 50% each of CSOT. 170 or so key engineers have been recruited from Taiwan and Korea. CSOT is aiming to bring component suppliers close to its 8.5G fab and has already signed a cooperation agreement with glass substrate suppliers. Co-location of a primary glass supplier will be important in improving LCD panel production efficiency. Source: Digitimes Displays

Apple Media Event on September 1: iPod Touch, Apple TV (iTV)

Like clockwork Apple will be having a media event next week, on the 1st of September. Expected announcements are a retooled iPhone 4-like iPod Touch but one that’s thinner sporting a Retina Display and two FaceTime-ready cameras. An iOS-based Apple TV (iTV) might also make an appearance. The event will take place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, California. Source: Loop Insight

LCD Outlook: Not So Good

The outlook for the LCD industry is not so good; actually, it looks quite bad. Demand for LCD goods come primarily from three markets: the US, Western Europe and China. US retail sales are weak. Walmart reported a 1.8% decline for the second quarter 13-week period for US comparable store sales. More bad news: China July retail sales dropped 0.6% M/M a bit below its five-year average. Overall, retail weakness is an issue and will probably continue to be through the fourth quarter. Mike Duke, Walmart’s President and CEO (Source: Walmart):

The slow economic recovery will continue to affect our customers, and we expect they will remain cautious about spending.

Intel doesn’t think demand for consumer PCs will be strong in the third quarter and reduced its forecast. Intel expects sales of US$11 billion (+/-$200 million), down from $11.2-$12 billion due to weaker-than-expected demand for consumer PCs in mature markets. (Source: MarketWatch)

AU Optronics (AUO), Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT), Chimei Innolux (CMI), and Sharp are all expected to reduce their utilizations rates. CPT’s president Sheng-chang Lin confirmed the company has adjusted its utilization rates based on market demand but did not offer any details. CPT’s Gen. 6 lines are most likely to experience reduced utilizations rates while the company’s Gen. 4.5 fabs will probably run at full utilization for quite some time. Lin mentioned weak demand for monitor and notebook panels but strong demand for small/medium panels.

CMI will reduce utilization rates at its Gen. 7.5 or Gen. 6 fabs specifically for IT-related panels while AUO will reduce its utilization rates by 7-10% in the third quarter. (Source: Digitimes)

Sharp will reduce LCD panel production by 20-30% at its new Gen. 10 Sakai factory starting this month. Sharp will also reduce its panel supplies to Sony. The Kameyama plant located in the Mie Prefecture will remain at full utilization.

Last month, LG Display’s (LGD) CEO Young-soo Kwon stated that reduced production may be considered due to weak TV demand. (Source: Reuters) But remember LGD is running as fast as it can but is having trouble supplying 9.7-inch IPS panels to Apple for the popular iPad. Samsung is in the game with technology gained through Hydis while there is a rumor that CMI, with technology from Hitachi, might enter as a third supplier.

With LCD TV panel inventory building up, weak demand for monitor and notebook LCD panels, LCD manufacturers lowering utilizations rates, retail sales weakening and major component suppliers reducing forecasts the outlook for the LCD industry doesn’t look very good at this point. There is one bright spot: small/medium LCDs.

LG Tablet: To Create Content And Work

Chang Ma, Vice President of Marketing at LG Electronics, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal:

The first LG tablet, which will run on Google Inc.’s Android software, will set itself apart from Apple Inc.’s iPad by focusing on the ability to create content, rather than simply display it. … Our tablet will be better than the iPad. … It’s going to be surprisingly productive.

Let’s see if LG’s tablet will really be better than the iPad. I get the feeling we’ll be comparing apples to oranges.

Rumor: Google, Motorola Cooperate on Android 3 Tablet?

Motorola might be Google’s favorite company to work on the Android 3.0 tablet according to Mingchi Kuo, Digitimes Research Senior Analyst. Motorola and Google along with a telecom partner (likely Verizon) will have the rights to label their names on the device. The platform is expected to be NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 and a Sharp 10.1-inch LCD, which is less bright than the 9.7-inch IPS LCD in the iPad but will be thinner. Mass production is slated for end of 2010. Source: Digitimes

Larger LED Chips For Samsung LCD TV

Samsung is moving toward single-sided edge-lit LED backlight technology and is requesting larger 30×40-mm LED chips, which are to be integrated into LED backlight units at the end of August or in early September. The single-sided LED backlight technology will require less LED chips and will allow for cheaper LCD TVs with LED BLUs. Source: Digitimes