Last night, at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street in New York, Pepcom held its EcoFocus press/analyst showcase event highlighting green design and technology.
Senior Analyst and Editor
Thirty-five companies wanting to promote their green products or credentials bought exhibit booths. Benjamin Moore was promoting its line of paints with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Ultra Motor USA showed its A2B electric bicycle with 36-volt lithium ion battery concealed inside the downtube and motor contained inside the rear hub. Unlike a pure electric car, when your batteries run down you can pedal. And SOMS Technology displayed its line of automotive oil filters with an additional microfilter that removes fine particulates from the oil and extends the time between oil changes to as much as 30,000 miles, the company says.
But you come here to read about displays and display-centric products, and a goodly number of our usual suspects could be found at EcoFocus. In fact, since the array of products, at first blush, did not always seem very different from what you would see at ShowStoppers or Digital Experience, I found myself opening each discussion by asking "What makes you green?" (I started by asking "Why are you green?" but quickly realized my mistake since the answer to that question invariably included some variation on "We care deeply about saving the planet." Not very informative, although it might occasionally be true.)
Mitsubishi’s 65-inch LaserVue laser rear-projection TV was green because it was consuming less than 100 watts showing cinema content. But the laws of physics are unforgiviing. It was doing so at the cost of an image that lacked luminance in the not-very-bright ambient of the Metropolitan Pavilion and a significantly limited horizontal viewing angle. The last time I asked (at CES) Mitsubishi was charging in the vicinity of $8000 for the LaserVue. Senior Manager for Brand Marketing Nick Norton said Mitsubishi expects to sell 10 to 15 thousand units this year.
At the booth of the OLED Association, Janice Mahon of Universal Display Corp. (UDC) had a nice bar chart that showed the typical power savings an AMOLED display would gain by using various combinations of red, green and blue fluorescent and phosphorescent emitting materials, all compared to an equivalent (CCFL-based) LCD and an all-fluorescent OLED display. UDC has commercialized a red phosphorescent material and is commonly used in combination with green and blue fluorescent materials to realized power saving through better efficiency. But it is working on green and blue phosphorescent materials and showed power savings with these too. When will we see products with phosphorescent green emitting materials in their OLED displays? "I hope it will be this year," Mahon said.
Cisco/Liniksys is green because it’s developed a new power supply brick that consumes 2.6W instead of 4.6W, while delivering the same output power. For the last couple of years the company has been shipping all products from Asia to the U.S. by ship, not air. And they use lots of recycled material and reduced packaging materials.
Lenovo was showing a broad line-up of notebook PCs. LED backlights are making their way quickly through the line, and solid-state drives save 10% to 15% of the power consumed by conventional hard-disk drives, said Lenovo’s David Critchley.
At Hewlett Packard, Mike Hockney said that the companies newest TouchSmart PC (introduced a few months go) uses 55% les metal and 37% less platic than its conventional desktop PCs. The HP Mini 2146, introduced in January, is a netbook with a readily recyclable aluminum case and magnesium frame. The backlight is LED. The keyboard is 92% of full size. At $449 MSRP, this is a very stylish package that feels well made.
Hockney commented that many disk drives are physically destroyed to maintain data security before being junked, which often means the computers they came from are also junked. HP has a disk sanitizer that removes data from the disk to Department of Defense Level 7 standards, thus allowing disk drives and their computers to be sold or donated to other users, thus extending their lives and delaying their entry into the waste stream.
HP Power Manager software improves on the standard Windows application with a nice interface and calculations of dollar and carbon dioxide savings. There’s also an option to program the computer to go into a power-saving mode at a particular time of day.
Toshiba calculates what it calls a T Factor to quantify several ecological friendy aspects of its new products, and compares it with the T Factors of the products they replace. We will be looking into this interesting initiative and the details of T Factor calculation shortly.
The idea that software solutions can reduce the environmental impact of display-centric products in a variety of ways is a powerful one.
iolo has a software package that automatically tunes PCs to extend their lifetime beyond the 30-month U.S. average. System Mechanic performs functions such as releasing misused processor cycles, recovering wasted RAM, and removing hard drive clutter. New-PC performance can be maintained for up to five years, an iolo representative said.
Green initiatives, real and imagined, have become major topics in the display and consumer electronics industries. At Insight Media we will continue to report on them, and analyze their environmental and business consequences.