TV Makers Use Design to Break Out of Commodity Trap
Jan 8, 2010
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Although this year’s average selling prices for TVs are expected to be down for the first time since the flat panel TV transition began, TV manufacturers are developing a wide variety of design elements and performance features to differentiate products and slow price declines. DisplaySearch, a display market research and consulting firm, has initiated a new research service, the Quarterly TV Design and Features Report, to analyze and forecast these trends.

A key aspect of the development of these new features is the interplay of performance, features, cost, and power consumption, according to the market researcher. Most features and performance improvements carry cost premiums and increased power consumption, but intelligent design and utilization of new technologies can enable simultaneous improvements. Key examples of this trend are LED backlights and 240-Hz frame-rate operation in LCD TVs.

The firm’s research indicates that LED backlighting and 240 Hz LCDs will serve as an enabling technology for new feature developments in TVs in 2010, specifically for 3D TVs, an area of intense interest to TV manufacturers. DisplaySearch forecasts that 1.2 million 3D-capable TVs will be shipped in 2010, with growth to 15.6 million sets in 2013.

“The dilemma facing TV set manufacturers is whether to rush in with cheap solutions,” said Paul Gray, director of TV Electronics Research. “If they skimp on processing and displays, performance will be disappointing and consumers will lose interest. While everyone is looking for a solution for the industry’s mediocre margins, technology alone cannot solve the economics, and it is important to take the time to develop the 3D proposition thoroughly.”

Power consumption is becoming an increasingly important issue in consumer electronics, with energy regulations becoming widespread in all regions—most recently in California. LED backlighting will continue to serve as a critical enabler of reduced power consumption. In the Q4’09 Quarterly TV Design and Features Report, energy regulations are examined with detailed descriptions of national regulations and ‘point of sale’ labeling policies.

DisplaySearch research indicates that there are significant performance differences by region. For example, in standby power consumption, Japanese TVs typically were under 0.3 Watts, while European TVs were typically under 0.5 Watts. However, in North America, even the sets certified by Energy Star consume more power (typically 0.5-0.6 Watts). “In North America a substantial number of sets were found with standby power consumption levels over 1.0 Watts,” Gray added. “Other regions show that it is possible to reduce such waste, while saving the consumer money.”

In terms of connectivity and digital TV processing feature trends, USB playback on TVs from cameras and memory devices is very popular in Europe, Korea and China, but has not been adopted in North America and Japan (as pictured). In 2010, shipments of sets with MPEG-4 decoders will surpass those with MPEG-2, as connectivity features and second-generation digital broadcast become mainstream.

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