Insight Media Reports Squeeze From Both Directions on Plasma Displays

Insight Media--a market research firm specializing in microdisplay-based products--reports that plasma display panel (PDP) technology is being squeezed from both directions. From below, the squeeze is being applied by liquid crystal displays (LCDs), and from above, by projection products, both with rising performance a
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Insight Media--a market research firm specializing in microdisplay-based products--reports that plasma display panel (PDP) technology is being squeezed from both directions. From below, the squeeze is being applied by liquid crystal displays (LCDs), and from above, by projection products, both with rising performance and falling price tags.

In support of these assertions, Insight Media mentions a number of CE companies that have recently announced plans to abandon PDP production in favor of LCD or SED (surface conductor electron emitter) displays, and others who will de-emphasize their PDP product lines.

Plasma displays have in the past held advantages over both large LCDs and projection displays in the areas of contrast, brightness, color saturation, response speed and viewing angle. But these advantages are disappearing as new generations of LCDs and projection displays exhibit increasingly good performance in all these areas. All this competition has led to price erosion in the PDP marketplace.

Technological advancements in both LCD panels and projectors have brought them much closer to PDPs in performance, and have also made it possible to build rear projection units so shallow that the flat panel display does not offer a great advantage in physical size. Add to this the fact that the structure of a plasma cell can only be made so small, which materially limits the pixel density of a PDP. This characteristic places a definite limit on how small a high-resolution plasma display panel can be made. This all adds up to plasma display panels being seriously challenged by LCD panels in the 40-50 inch range, and by projectors in the size ranges above 50 inches.

A related story in Monday's New York Times reported an overall steep decline in prices for flat panel televisions and computer displays, which has led to further realignments among manufacturers. Fujitsu, after having recently sold most of its half-interest in a PDP maker, announced that it is selling its liquid crystal operation to Sharp. These deals leave the combination of Hitachi and Matsushita as one of the major plasma display panel makers, and Sharp bolstering its position as Japan's top maker of liquid crystal displays.

The sharp decline in prices for flat panel displays over the past year, as much as 40 percent in some cases, resulting from stiff competition, is certainly a boon to the consumer. It is not such a boon to manufacturers, of course. And, if you have looked at televisions on the Web or in consumer electronics stores recently, you know that all these developments have also produced a distinct decline in the number of CRT sets being offered for sale.