Q&A: Bruce Berkoff, Chairman, LCD TV Association

Bruce Berkoff is founder and chairman of the LCD TV Association, an international association dedicated to promoting LCD television products. Berkoff is former chief marketing officer for LG Philips’ LCD division, and currently sits on the boards of InFocus Corp., Syntax-Brillian Corp., Tvia, and Uni-Pixel. He spoke this week with HD Notebook:

HD Notebook: All you LCD proponents have your own membership group, newsletter and other components, similar in some ways to both sides in the Blu-ray Disc vs. HD DVD wars. Why all this effort to push LCD technology?

Berkoff: We’re a new, not-for-profit trade organization whose goal is to “inform, promote, improve, and connect” the entire supply chain, retail channel and end-consumers of LCD TVs, to help vendor-members to make better products and provide better values for consumers, and to get these to market sooner for the benefit of the whole industry. We leverage various communication tools, which include research and white papers, global speeches, PR, interviews with the press and background education, test and benchmarks, too, and a new newsletter to help accomplish these basic marketing goals.

We also speak at many industry shows globally and help promote the community, as well as member interests, and get them to engage in more mutually beneficial discussions for faster time to market of beneficial features and more efficient supply chain logistics. We recently introduced our “Green TV” logo to help promote more energy efficiency and better ergonomics in LCD TVs.

HD Notebook: What would you tell typical consumers are the basic differences between LCD and plasma sets?

Berkoff: That a “liquid crystal display” is going to be your best solution for most rooms. Surely for 15- to 47-inch TV sets, LCD is the best and most affordable solution with the highest resolution. LCD is also the most portable, thin and lightweight solution... Plasma display panels will be more cost-effective in the 50- to 70-inch range for a while, and if you have a “dark” theater room with little light or glare, [but] LCDs do better than PDPs in high-light environments. Also, a rear-projection TV is the best value for 72- to 90-inch or so—although you must remember RPTVs often have less of a viewing angle than other flat TVs so you must plan your room and furniture accordingly.

HD Notebook: Do you own one or more HD sets at home, and would you mind telling us what they are?

Berkoff: Yes, I own lots of HDTVs and they are all LCDs, in sizes ranging from 15 to 42 inches…I have gotten some good deals on some great sets over time from people like LG, Philips and Olevia.

HD Notebook: What trends, if any, do you see happening now on the HD front?

Berkoff: We see three big trends occurring in flat TVs (besides the huge growth seen as the world moves from “fat to flat” and analog to digital) and these are green, wireless, and new backlighting technology.

“Green” is [creating] electronics for better energy efficiency, and we are supporting the EPA’s efforts to make Energy Star happen for all flat TVs by late 2008. LCD uses less energy to build, use, and dispose of, and it is probably even... recyclable due to advances like Corning’s Eagle XG glass with no heavy metals inside, and Merck’s very safe liquid crystals. This is a long-term trend that will last many years.

“Wireless” has a huge WAF [“Wife Acceptance Factor”], as flat TVs do, in general, due to the great acceptance of no cables! Audio is easier and will happen first, and from TV “out,” video (or both audio/video) via HDMI-to-TV from “box” will happen later—but not too far off.

Finally, LED and OLED will enable better backlights and edgelights for better displays, and thus better products. Digital backlights will not only have better color gamuts but also will remove the last vestige of motion artifacts from LCD sets by allowing strobing, which we were used to from CRTs.