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Over 20 million 3D flat panels shipped last year

Despite all of the negativity and technical hurdles surrounding 3DTV in the home, new sales data shows shipments of 3-D LCD TV panels reached 7.8 million in Q4 2011, up 26 percent over the same period a year earlier. As a result, NPD DisplaySearch research said, total 3D TV panel shipments in 2011 reached 21.2 million, accounting for 10 percent of all LCD TV panels shipped.

Covering the entire range of large-area panels shipped worldwide and regionally, the research firm’s latest report on the category, entitled “Quarterly Large-Area TFT LCD Shipment Report, Advanced LED + 3D” also claims that flat panel manufacturers are predicting 138 percent growth for 2012, which, the company said, would lead to 3-D LCD TV panel shipments of 50 million units, for a penetration rate of 21.6 percent of all LCD TV panel shipments.

David Hsieh, vice president, Greater China Market for NPD DisplaySearch, said, “While there are still concerns about the lack of 3-D content and services, as well as end-users’ needs, LCD TV panel makers have pushed 3-D capability via lower prices and the introduction of new, cost-effective technologies. ”Meanwhile, improvements in patterned retarder film manufacturing and lamination stability will increase output through yield rate enhancement.”

The report also states that active-shutter glass technology use is still larger than patterned retarder technology (also known as “passive” glasses), with 6.2 percent penetration in total LCD TV panel shipments in 2011, with patterned retarder accounting for 3.9 percent. NPD DisplaySearch said, based on estimates of panel makers, 2012 penetration rates will increase to 11.6 percent for shutter glass type and 10.0 percent for pattern retarder type.

In addition to TV, panel makers are aggressively promoting 3-D monitor panels, especially for consumer entertainment and gaming PCs. In 3-D LCD monitor panels, pattern retarder manufacturers are more aggressive than makers of shutter glass. Panel makers are targeting shipments of more than 1.5 million per quarter from Q2, 2012 onward. This is up from 235,000 in Q4 of 2011.

It’s still clear that at the end of the day consumers prefer no glasses at all, however such autostereoscopic technology is still too expensive to bring to market in any set 42-inches and larger. Autostereoscopic 3-D technology (no glasses required) is now available on some handheld video game systems and smart phones, with screen sizes of 2-3 inches.