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Flat-Panel TV Shipments Heat Up Again

After anemic growth in 2009, LCD TVs are apparently hot again, according to research firm DisplaySearch, which is exactly what purveyors of 3D and LED-lit flat-panels were aiming for.

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After anemic growth in 2009, LCD TVs are apparently hot again, which is exactly what purveyors of 3D and LED-lit flat-panels were hoping for. According to research firm DisplaySearch, global shipments of LCD TVs will be up 15 percent this year. Even plasma displays, which could see renewed interest because of their ability to handle 3D, have shown signs of life. In the first quarter of 2010, worldwide plasma TV shipments were up 24 percent year-over-year.

But will the party last if a key growth-driver of flat-panel sales gets bogged down in supply-chain shortages? According to DisplaySearch, flat-panels that employ LED technology for illumination will make up a whopping 20 percent of all LCD TV sales. About 9 in 10 of those will use so-called edge-lit LED systems, instead of full-array. However, component shortages have started to hold back LCD makers that want to make and sell LED-lit displays. For example, according to DisplaySearch, companies that supply reflector film for displays are also seeing increased demand for their companents in solar cell applications.

Still, the proverbial horse has left the barn. There’s little doubt LED will soon be the mainstream light source in LCD flat-panels, based on the fact that LED-lit displays are much slimmer and more energy-efficient than their cold cathode fluorescent lamp competitors. LED is even creeping into commercial-grade panels such as Samsung’s new EX series. DisplaySearch expects supply-chain issues to be ironed out over the next year and a half, component prices to fall, and LED to overtake all others as the leading backlight technology for LCD TVs.—Brad Grimes

 


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