Coming Soon For 2007 - New LCD Technologies
Simon Baker, 3 Mar 2007

 

Index:

Introduction

HDMI Interface
1ms Response Times
Motion Blur Reduction
     Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
     Motion Picture Acceleration (MPA)
100Hz / 120Hz Technology
AMVA
22" > 27" > 28" Screen Size

Enhanced CCFL / 92% Colour Gamut
LED Backlighting
OLED
SED

 
 

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It is potentially an exciting year for LCD displays in 2007. There are a number of new technologies emerging along with a new approach to display market sectors and promoted specifications. Below I will go over some of the changes we can expect during the coming year as well as linking to some references about the new technologies being used:

 

HDMI Interface

This is starting to become more common on larger displays where the line between desktop display and LCD TV is becoming blurred. Commonly the screens are aimed at a wide multimedia use and so feature a wealth of inputs, typically including Composite, S-Video, Component and now HDMI. The BenQ FP241W is an example of a new screen featuring HDMI connectivity, and the LG L245WP will also be equiped with this interface. The HDMI interfaces should offer full 1080p support and HDCP certification and in some cases are in place of a DVI connection. Obviously with modern multimedia devices (HD-DVD, Blu-Ray etc) being HDMI ready, this is a good choice for people who want to use their display for a range of applications, not just to connect to a PC.


 


Above: Hyundai S90D 1ms Rated TFT

1ms Response Times

This has been on the cards for some time now, and is expected to be available from desktop TFT's during 2007. The Hyundai S90D is an example and was announced last August, as was the Viewsonic VX931.

While on paper it sounds impressive, in reality there probably won't be any real difference in practice compared with modern panels already being widely used (e.g. Viewsonic VX922 - 2ms). Pixel responsiveness is reaching its limits now with the aid of RTC technologies, and manufacturers must now consider alternative technologies to reduce motion blur and improve frame rates.

Motion Blur Reduction

Perhaps the most promising improvements in panel responsiveness for the immediate future come in the form of BenQ's Black Frame Insertion (BFI) and Samsung's Motion Picture Acceleration (MPA) technologies. These technologies concentrate on reducing the perceived motion blur you experience from LCD displays, regardless of how fast response time becomes.

    
 

Black Frame Insertion

BFI is already in place in the BenQ FP241WZ but we will have to wait for the screens wide release before we get a true indication of it's effectiveness. When it comes to reducing perceived motion blur, even initial pre-release results look promising. This technology is based around the principle of inserting a black frame at a certain frequency (user controlled even) in the image to help 'clean' the human eye and reduce blur. This does not create a higher frequency though, and panels using BFI, at least at the moment, still function at 60Hz refresh rate with the screen still only showing 60 fps, whether they are rendered frames of black frames. BenQ will also be utilising BFI in their FP241VW model, and screens featuring this technology are being labelled as either 'AMA-Z' or 'PerfectMotion'.


MPA displayed at CEBIT 2006

Samsung Motion Picture Acceleration (MPA)

Samsung's MPA technology is a little different, being based around interpolated images designed to improve the frame rate of LCD displays. This was unveiled at CEBIT last year, but there is little information available about this technology so far, or about its effectiveness in practice. However, the principles look very similar to what Samsung have achieved with their 100Hz TV's (see below) and may well be the same process. We will feature more information about this as it becomes available.

100Hz / 120Hz Technology

Samsung were the first to release a 100Hz LCD TV as covered back in October. The LE4073BD was promising in initial tests at BeHardware and helped reduce motion blur in gaming. This again is a new technology but may well be the way forward for LCD TV's in particular.


Above: Samsung LE4073BD 100Hz LCD TV

Samsung achieve 100Hz from their LCD TV's by instering an intermediate image image between adjacent frames. This doubles the frame rate from 50 fps, to 100fps (since European TV's operate at 50Hz). This is achieved with the use of an internal processor which calculates the intermediate stage and predicts its appearance. In movies the performance was a little vaied, but in gaming it really helped improve moving images and reduce motion blur. Tom's Hardware France also took a look at the 100Hz Samsung LCD TV last year.
 
 

AMVA

We discussed the features of AU Optronics latest generation of MVA panels in December 2006. Advanced-MVA (AMVA) forms the latest range of panels in AUO's desktop and LCD TV modules and features a number of reported enhancements. These include improved contrast ratios and viewing angles, and is typically combined with a range of other new features such as ASPD and HiColor to offer some impressive specs. More information is available in our news feature here along with specs of the first generation of AMVA panels released.

 

 


 

22" > 27" > 28" Screen Size

There has been a trend emerging towards the end of 2006 in regards to the diagonal size of desktop displays. 22" monitors have now become very common, but sadly still remain all based on TN Film technology. However, the increased screen size and low price has helped make the 22" sector very popular, and this looks like it will continue during 2007. There are rumours of additional panel technologies being released in this sector (AUO for example may release a 22"WS AMVA / P-MVA panel) but nothing is concrete at present. I would imagine non-TN panels may well find it hard to fit in within the 22" sector due to the low costs of those displays already available. We now already have 22" models from most of the main manufacturers including the Dell E228WFP, LG L226WT and Samsung SM226BW for example, and more are certain to follow this year. LG in fact informed me in a recent interview with the head of monitors in the UK that 2007 would see a continued focus on 22" screens and a move away from the previously popular 20" sector.

 

 
Above: The 27" Dell 2707WFP and 22" Samsung SM226BW

 

We've also seen a move into other previously un-explored diagonals recently, with the release of the Dell 2707WFP, and the impending arrival of Samsung's competing product, the SM275T. These 27" models offer an increased screen size compared with 23"/24" models, but remain only at a native resolution of 1920 x 1200. ViewSonic have skipped past the 27" sector altogether with their forthcoming model, the 28" widescreen VX2835WM. The larger models are starting to become a cross over between desktop displays and LCD TV's and typically feature multimedia interfaces and even HDMI. These may not suit everyone's tastes, particularly when it comes to the larger pixel pitch and massive screen size, but it is interesting to see the shift away from smaller size screens and into the 27" and 28" space.

  
Enhanced CCFL / 92% Colour Gamut


Displays featuring an improved gamut range are starting to become more common nowadays, and offer gamut covering 92% of the NTSC colour space. This exceeds the sRGB colour space offered from most screens available today (those using standard CCFL backlighting - 72% NTSC coverage). This is achieved with enhanced CCFL backlighting, and the Dell 2707WFP and Dell 3007WFP-HC are examples of recently released screens offering 92% NTSC coverage. This trends looks set to continue and marks a step in the right direction for LCD monitors, offering improved colour range and depth.

 


Above: Monitor colour gamut showing 72% (left) NTSC coverage and 92% (right) coverage 

 

LED Backlighting

Rather than use CCFL baklighting, some manufacturers are releasing screens this year with LED backlighting. These will offer improved panel uniformity, and enriched colours thanks to 114% coverage of the NTSC colour space. The Samsung XL20 is an example, and looks promising. Prices for these screens are expected to be high (the Samsung is expected to retail ~ $1999), but remember, these are aimed at professional graphics users, and colour enthusiasts.

 


Above: Samsung XL20 and Acer AL1917L displays, featuring LED backlighting

 

Back in October 2006, Prad.de reported that the Acer AL1917L would be the first more widely affordable screen to use LED backlighting. This was expected to be released at the end of December. Other more affordable screens may begin to emerge, but it is the corporate space where LED will most likely be used. Due to the growing popularity of LED, set to expand further in 2007, industry panel giants such as AU Optronics (AUO), Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) and Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT) have inked deals with LED manufacturers. AUO, for example, acquired a 25 per cent share of Light House Technology, as the 'Wall Street Journal' reports. Calculations by US market researchers at Isuppli suggest that, by the year 2010, light emitting diodes may already make for 30 per cent of all LCD monitor backlighting. Further information reported by Prad.de in November 2006.

 

OLED

OLED based displays were originally expected in October 2006, but have now been delayed with no release date announced. BeHardware released details of this last June. There is information about OLED available from Prad.de, but this form of backlighting will negate the need for CCFL backlight tubes, and should in theory offer improved black depth, improved uniformity and reduced power consumption (since there is no backlight needed). Another benefit of OLEDs is their flexibility and the fact that they are really thin. OLEDs can be superimposed on flexible materials. Hence, a display that can be coiled up seems feasible. As it is with any new technology OLED is not technically mature yet and some problems have to be tackled before the OLED display will replace the LCD monitor on people's desks. It seems this may well be delayed even longer and we might not see OLED this year in the mass market. Further reading about OLED is also available from Wikipedia.

SED

'Surface Conduction Electron Emitter Displays' (SED) techology will be produced by Canon and Toshiba this year, since Nano-Proprietary (the owners) have granted licence to them to develop SED.

 

It looked recently as if Toshiba were having to pull out of the joint venture leaving the production entirely down to Canon. A Texas court found recently  that Canon had violated a licensing agreement belonging to the company Nano-Proprietary through its joint venture with Japanese electronics manufacturer Toshiba. As a result, Canon had already taken over all shares in the SED joint venture prior to the ruling. However, Toshiba is to remain active in the development and later in the marketing of the product.


Last December, Toshiba's CEO announced that despite previous statements saying that LCD and SED would be sold at the same price for an equivalent diagonal size, these monitors would actually be available at a prohibitive price.

 

It is likely that any screens released would be for professional use only due to this price difference, and likely to be only used in large sized displays. Despite recent rumours of Canon pulling out of the project as well, they have confirmed they are still investing in its development and they expected the first SED TV's would be available end of 2007, with massive shipments planned to start early 2008 for the Beijing Olympic Games. It looks like main stream SED availability will not happen this year and may even be delayed past this initial expected date due to the recent court rulings.

 

More information available from BeHardware and from Wikipedia.

 

 

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