On Monday my esteemed colleague Pete Putnam discussed how Sharp is challenging the current projection space with the announcement of a 90-inch LCD display at what he expects to be a very competitive price point. In case you have missed his article, here is a link to read it (Pete Putnam - The Winds of change - Sharp LCDs challenge projectors).
So, why is this such a great deal? As we all know the professional display market is much smaller than the consumer market, where LCD TVs (and yes some PDPs) rule the world with an iron fist. Just this week a report from NPD Display Search announced that LCD TV shipments fell for the first time ever during Q1′12. This bad news is following poor business performance reports at many display manufacturers throughout 2011. A very logical scenario for these manufacturers is to press into the commercial space by utilizing available capacity of large display fabs as we have seen from many manufacturers over the course of the last few years. But let us take a look at the display landscape as we know it today.
When we plot the pixel pitch in ppi of a display over the screen diagonal we get the indicated curves for different content resolution, as shown in the attached chart. 720p resolution requires the lowest pixel pitch and a QFHD panel the highest. As the screen size increases, the pixel pitch requirement decreases, or in other words, the distance from pixel to pixel increases.
I have also indicated where the current display technologies play in terms of typical screen size and available pixel pitch. LCD displays cover the high resolution, smaller sized displays, followed by PDP, projection and finally the LED wall. Yes, these display technologies do not necessarily address the same applications as there other factors such as brightness and cost have to be taken into consideration. This will continue to be the case and certain applications will select certain display types based on the application requirements.
As Pete Putnam pointed out, LCDs are pushing into territory that so far belonged to PDP and projection. At InfoComm, some other technology also made an impression that threatens projection even more in my opinion. A company named Silicon Core Technology (SCT) demonstrated a LED wall with a pixel pitch of 1.6mm, a much lower number than what we are used to hear from LED wall manufacturers up until now.
To put this into perspective, I have included these new displays in the chart below.
As you can see, the 90-inch LCD display falls right into the PDP territory and threatens projection with a very competitive overall cost proposition.
When we look at the LED display from SCT, this is even more impressive, as it reaches almost the same pixel pitch as the Sharp LCD display with discrete LEDs.
This LED display is by no means perfect or cost competitive today. However, it reaches a pixel pitch that nobody thought would be possible by now.
Will this technology challenge LCD in the display arena? SCT certainly hopes so, and has plans to further decrease pixel pitch by next year. For a more detailed discussion of this display look at the next issue of our Large Display Report.