Tag: LCD

Panasonic packs in LCD panels

panasonicPanasonic has given up making LCD panels for televisions because the price competition.

The pullout from TV LCD manufacturing follows the company’s withdrawal from plasma TV production three years ago.

Panasonic has been making liquid crystal display panels for TVs at its Himeji factory in western Japan since 2010. Company executives are now planning to end production of the parts by September.

It  says it will continue to manufacture LCD panels at the plant for products other than televisions, such as medical equipment and cars.

But it says cuts in output will lead to transfer of hundreds of workers to other factories or offices, out of about 1,000 currently employed at the plant.

However it says ir will keep making Panasonic-brand televisions, using panels supplied by other manufacturers.
The move leaves Sharp and its Taiwanese parent firm Hon Hai as the only producer in the land of the Rising Sun.
Panasonic said that its executives are trying to streamline operations to focus more on profit, rather than scale of sales.

Panel market hit by notebook slump

Samsung LCDManufacturers of LCD panels for the IT and other markets are feeling despondent because there are precious little signs that people are buying.

Generally speaking, the second quarter of the year is a healthy one for the manufacturers as companies gear up their offerings for the third and fourth calendar quarters.

But, according to a survey from Trendforce, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

The survey showed that for the notebook sector there’s no demand for panels even given the traditionally healthy back to school sales. Nor has the industry see demand for Windows 10 generate additional orders.

In fact, there’s a glut of inventory in the channel, meaning that prices for panels have actually fallen in June.

Sales of monitors are not helping the panel manufacturers either. Trendview said there was a “significant” decline in shipments in the first quarter this year, and the second and third quarter look to be gloomy too. Here too prices have dropped.

The other sector that generates profits for the manufacturers are TV panels but there’s a price war there, particularly on the popular 32-inch size.

Flexible OLED panels still too expensive

SamsungRigid LCD screens won’t be a thing of the past unless the makers of flexible panels get more price competitive.

The manufacturers of organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels are looking to make more flexible active matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) panels, according to a report from research company IHS.

We don’t have to spell out all the words in AMOLED again, but the leaders in manufacturing these flexible panels are Korean giants Samsung and LG Display.

Those two manufacturers are ramping up production of flexible panels this year and IHS thinks flexible shipments are set to grow exponentially.

The reason why flexible panels seem to be the order of the day is because IHS believes wearable and other form factors need them.

But the snag is that smartphone makers – presumably other than Samsung and LG – find AMOLED panels to be a little too expensive for their purposes.

Principal analyst Jerry Kang at IHS, said: “Smartphone makers were unhappy with the price of AMOLED panels, because higher priced performance AMOLED displays had lower sharpness than LTPS LCD displays with the same resolution. As the wide colour gamut of AMOLED displays has not been a major differentiation factor in the smartphone panel market, current AMOLED panels will eventually lose their appeal, unless prices decline further.”

Microsoft continues to touch our hearts

Software behemoth Microsoft has also been in the forefront of hardware almost forever – hey don’t forget the mouse. Although it’s been a little bit late to the game with tablets and that, it has multiple projects that it believes will be game changers in the future.

Alex Butler, senior research director, at Microsoft Cambridge, showed off quite a number of projects that may, one day, be turned into products you can buy.

Butler told the audience at IEF2013 in Dublin: “Touch is everywhere in today’s age and we’re all used to touching, typing and swiping. We think this is all very natural. New hardware enables new types of software and touch has just opened the door.”

Butler’s unit – Microsoft Research – has 850 futuristic people around the world.  “We’re a little like a university, looking 5, 10 or 15 years ahead without being tied to products,” he said. “Stuff does feed into the product line. The applied sciences group look at new materials and technologies.”

He said that Microsoft continues to work on the surface table – that’s a table not a tablet folks, but, he said,  it’s still a little underexploited. Microsoft wants to create a very thin table design that uses infrared to sense a whole variety of objects. It’s essentially a low resolution camera with 1,000 sensors in it, he said.

It’s also experimenting with SideSight for small form factors using side sensors, which works much lke paper.  Mouse 2.0 adds multi-touch to a mouse and uses diffuse illumination.

A project called Digits which involves a camera worn on your body that leaves your fingers free, allows you to, for example, turn virtual knobs.

KinectFusion lets you digitise 3D into building a model of anything you’re looking at and lets you perform virtual touch on practically anything.  It’s extended that to scalable KinectFusion which lets you walk through a space and digitise the entire world you’re perambulating.

It’s also working on Augmented Projectors using handheld projectors. Its Surface Physics software allows simulation including forces like friction.

Microsoft is working on fusing pen and touch as well as working on proximity and hover technologies. Its SecondLight project uses a sheet which can be made opaque or milky and uses touch and a camera to virtually lift objects off the screen and drop them elsewhere on the display.  

It’s also working on see through 3D to develop things in other dimensions.  Vermeer is a stereographic display that also uses holographs. It renders 3,000 frames a second to generate all the views.  

Another project works on soft ferro-magnetic input devices which are basically squishy rather than hard surfaces. Its TouchMover is an activated 3D display which pushes back.

Butler said that one of the obstacles to its research is that LCD manufacturers don’t appear to want to develop the high speed technology that could essentially enable a new era of touch applications. He demonstrated a 1000Hz project that uses ultra touch so response to your finger appeared instantaneous.  There’s a little too much latency, or slowness as we call it, in current LCD tech.

Sharp to slash 5,000 jobs

Sharp is planning to let go 5,000 workers over the next three years. Most of the cuts are expected at overseas plans in China and Malaysia. 

The Japanese tech giant currently employs around 51,000 souls and most of the cuts will affect its TV business. The company will also halve the number of workers at its head offices and halve the number of its board members. 

The cuts are just part of Sharp’s three-year plan to recover from the effects of the global economic downturn. It will also revise its strategic approach, shifting its focus to the production of smaller panels for smartphones and other devices, as they have more added value than big TV panels. However, it will increase production of 4K panels for big UHD TV sets, reports The Asahi Shimbun.

In the grand scheme of things, Sharp hopes to concentrate its efforts on more profitable products and boost revenue. It is looking to recover its credit rating, making it possible to issue corporate bonds. However, its revenues and sales are still going down and it is expected to post a net loss in excess of 500 billion yen.

Part of the problem is that prices of TV sets and LCD panels are declining faster than expected.

AUO to debut 5-inch FHD OLED

Taiwanese display company AU Optronics will debut its 5-inch FHD OLED panel at China Optoelectronics Display Expo 2013 (CODE 2013) in Shenzhen, which it claims is the world’s highest resolution FHD OLED.

AUO will show off the panel integrated into a smartphone, managing a resolution of 443 ppi and including what the company says is a fine shadow mask process. The company boasts its panel doesn’t need much power while displaying a high picture quality, a free viewing angle, high contrast, high brightness and a fast response time.

It will also show off LCD panels from 5 to 5.7 inches utilising AHVA technology with the LTPS production process and Hyper LCD technology, all with full HD 720 and wide viewing angle.

AUO’s 5-inch Full HD AHVA display has full HD resolution of 443ppi, or 1080×1920, sporting a narrow bezel of 1mm width from the display area to the touch panel border.

The company plans to demonstrate its 4K display technologies, too, including 65 inch and 55 inch panels to show off an HD resolution of 3840×2160, with the 65 inch panel boasting higher quality 3D images, the company says.

How many screens do you have?

I was in lovely San Jose a few months ago, and a charming chap saw that I had a notebook, a Samsung Galaxy SII and an Apple iPad to boot.

He asked me a question which caused me to ponder:  “How many screens do you have, Mike?”

It wasn’t until I got back to Oxford until I was able to tally the total.

Right here, in my “study”, I can count five, if I clued the LCD telly. In my “bedroom” I have two. Downstairs I have three. That makes a total of 10 and I am not counting the defunct phones in my drawers. If I counted them, I’d have 15 screens – hence your Mageek is in his own way bolstering the cartel rich LCD companies as if there was no tomorrow.

Now, one of my friends said: “Mike, have you written about Coltan yet?”  Coltan is an ore that is vital to electronic devices and some say that it has sparked all these atrocities happening in the Congo – a claim that has validity.

At the White Bull conference, recently held in Barcelona, an impassioned Sean Carasso reckoned that the world’s media isn’t writing about Coltan because there are way too many entrenched multinational interests to consider.

Indeed, in his speech at White Bull, Sean didn’t mention Coltan directly, but we saw it on one of the slides he flashed up. God bless an independent press!

LCD price fixing leads to $1 billion glass action

Consumers who bought a TV, monitor or notebook computer with an LCD flat panel screen are being advised they can claim back money from price-fixing settlements which over the years have totalled $1.1 billion.

Kinsella Media, LLC, which is dealing with a court-approved LCD flat panel litigation from seven flat panel manufacturers including AU Optronics, LG Display and Toshiba, has said that the fees the companies have been ordered to pay back compensate users who could have been forced to pay more for their products.

It follows a lawsuit which found the manufacturers guilty of conspiring to fix, raise, maintain or stabilise prices of TFT-LCD flat panels, resulting in overcharges to consumers who bought televisions, monitors and notebook computers.

The law firm said that the settlements would provide almost $1.1 billion to consumers in 24 states, as well as the District of Columbia and government entities in eight states that purchased televisions, monitors and notebook computers containing an LCD flat panel.

The settlements also provide nationwide injunctive relief to stop the defendants’ alleged behaviour.

However, there may be some time to wait, as the court is still debating whether the charges against the companies are to be upheld. It will hold a hearing on 29 November, 2012 to consider whether to approve the three new settlements from LG, AOU and Toshiba.  

Payments will be based on the number of valid claims filed as well as on the number and type of LCD flat panel products that consumers purchased. It is expected that a minimum payment of $25 will be made to all eligible consumers who submit a valid claim.

Any money remaining after claims are paid will be distributed to charities, governmental bodies or other beneficiaries approved by the court.

LCD panel makers pay out on price fixing

Toshiba, LG and AU Optronics have agreed to pay a combined $571 million to make a lawsuit over price fixing in the liquid crystal display panel market go away.

Joseph Alioto, who represented a class action of miffed consumers suing the companies, told Reuters the amount includes $27.5 million in civil penalties for eight state governments.

Seven other LCD manufacturers had reached a settlement for $538.5 million.

This means that their price fixing cost the panel makers $1.1 billion in compensation.

It all was a conspiracy from 1996 through 2006 to fix LCD prices and keep making shedloads of cash at the expense of OEMs and consumers. It meant that buyers of televisions, laptops and other electronics paid a lot more than they needed. They would still be getting away with it, but the conspiracy was revealed by a whistleblower.

Several companies also pleaded guilty to separate criminal charges and paid fines.

Under the settlement any consumer who files a claim will receive at least $25. Alioto thinks that more than 20 million consumers would qualify. 

MIT dumps glasses for true-3D LCD system

MIT has developed a glasses-free 3D system using three liquid crystal display (LCD) screens to create moving holographic images.

Everyone knows that while 3D can at times be impressive, it is mostly a gimmicky diversion that involves wearing cumbersome glasses in dark rooms.

While 3D sets may be selling better than the biggest cynics expected, the general consensus seems to be that glasses-free is the only way it will go truly mainstream. MIT points out that the depth achieved by the 3D blockbuster screens is just a facsimile of true 3D. To answer this problem, a team at MIT thinks they have developed a method that simplifies producing holographic 3D images.

The MIT Media Lab has constructed a system which relies on several layers of readily available LCD panels already found in most flat screens.

Creating a holographic picture requires pixels that are far tinier than current technology can handle. But by cleverly combining a number of screens researchers could soon offer working displays that operate at refresh rates that are not far off those currently available, and they have developed a prototype device.

Using a similar approach to the glasses free Nintendo 3DS, the team found a way of filtering the light emitted through an extra LCD, which allowed them to create an image which appeared different when viewed from other angles.

To make sense of all the information when three screens are building up a moving holographic – and reduce the refresh rate from 1,000 hertz to a more manageable 360 hertz – the team used software similar to that used to build up 3D images in a CAT scan.

This stitched the picture into a holographic image viewable from 20 degree viewing angle.