HDTV: 10 Top Trends Coming to a Screen Near You in 2010

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More Skinny OLED Displays

Industry experts largely agree that bright-screened but energy-efficient OLED TVs will become more commonplace. But disagreement swirls around when and by how much.

Instead of the liquid crystals used in LCDs, OLEDs are built from wafer-thin, light-producing polymers. Although OLED color displays are regarded as more vibrant, OLED screens require less power than LCDs, because no backlighting – LED or otherwise – is needed.

Sony grabbed the TV industry spotlight back in 2007 with the introduction of a bendable 11-inch active matrix OLED display, merely one-fifth of a millimeter thick.

Now, LG has announced a 15-inch OLED TV, although right now, it’s for the Korean market only.

“OLED TVs will ultimately replace LCD TVs,” Peddie predicts. “They use less power, they’re much thinner, and you can even roll them up.”

Global revenues from shipments of OLED panels for use in TVs will soar from $10 million in 2009 to $1.8 billion in 2015, according to Vinita Jakhanwal, principal analyst for small to medium-sized displays at iSuppli.

But despite projections of strong revenue growth, unit shipments are tiny in comparison to those for LCD TVs. The analyst believes that manufacturing challenges and limited production will keep OLED TVs small in size and high in price, forcing them to remain a niche market until at least 2015.

Average pricing for an 11-inch OLED TV is currently about $2500, in contrast to only $704 for a 40- to 42-inch LCD TV, she says.

Right now, the materials in OLED TVs also tend to wear out quickly, and the TVs are afflicted by “image sticking,” a phenomenon that leaves an artifact on a screen after a static image has been displayed for too long, according to Jakhanwal.

Slicker Laser TVs

Although projection TV is often considered as a single category, there are actually lots of different rear- and front-end projection

technologies. Many of the projection TVs on the market today are rear projection (RP) sets that use a digital light processor (DLP) to reflect light from a light source to a screen.

From 2009 to 2010, sales of DLP-RP sets will drop off from 383,000 to 211,000, according to Patel.

Plasma sales will also fall, from about 14.9 million to about 14.0 million units, while LCD sales will surge from 134.3 million to 157.6 million units. OLED TV sales will increase from 17,000 units in 2009 to 34,000 units in 2010, according to Jakhanwal.

Mitsubishi, the leader in the DLP-RP space, produces laser TV sets that are “3D-ready.”

Traditional DLP projection TVs use a bright while light similar to the light in a slide projector, along with a color wheel. “With its red, blue and green pie slices, the wheel spins very fast so that each color is in front of the DLP for 1/60th of a second,” Peddie explains.

Alternatively, color lasers are now being used in some high-end DLP projection TVs to replace the spinning wheel. But “the green lasers are the weak link in the equation,” according to the analyst.

With the likelihood now strong that new 3D technologies will be introduced in 2010, Mitsubishi’s laser TVs will probably be joined soon by more plasma and LCD TVs in the 3D arena.

But just when some observers started voicing doubts that the DLP industry could last more than another couple of years, more vendors started hopping aboard the laser TV train. In September of this year, HDI announced plans for a 100-inch laser TV supporting 3D at the blazing rate of 1000 frames per second.

At about the same time, Sumitomo Electric claimed to have developed the world’s first “true green” laser diode, seen as eliminating the current cumbersome process of doubling the frequency of an infrared laser in order to create green light.

Meanwhile, some laser TV advocates claim the industry might eventually be able to lower prices on consumer TVs by producing less expensive laser components.

Shown above is Mitsubishi’s 65-inch 3D-ready Laservue TV, introduced last summer for $7000 but now available in some stores for around $5000.

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