Electronic Design

CES 2008 Display Technology

Tiny OLEDs. DLPs with LEDs. 3D TV and giant plasma screens. All these were out in force at CES. Of course, trying to figure out who was selling these displays and who was using them to highlight their other products like personal video recorders (PVRs) was a challenge. HDTV was the name of the game and Blu-ray or HD-DVD was driving just about every display on the floor. Its garbage-in, garbage out as hi-res screens fare poorly when fed SD (standard def). HDMI was king and DVI is diving but DisplayPort had the buzz on interconnects. The latter will likely be the VGA port of the future with HDMI dominating on the consumer side. Large Displays Projection systems used for large displays but it was Pansonic’s 150-in plasma display (Fig. 1) that garnered the oohs and aahs. This monster is not available at your local electronics store, yet — like many of the other demos at CES, it’s "coming." Another neat trick in the Panasonic booth was a thin plasma screen hanging by a pair of wires. A gentle push and it could disappear into the ceiling when not in use. Large LCDs like the 108-in Aquos from Sharp (Fig. 2) were out in force as well. The ability to utilize 1080P HD sources like Blu-ray pose the biggest advantage for these. Likewise, they are already rather thin (and getting thinner), making wall mounting easier. The push, as with all HDTVs, is in faster response time with 120Hz refresh rates and 6ms per-pixel response time. Sharp also showed off Aquos Net, an Internet service linked via a PLC (Powerline Communication) network. This is something to watch. PLC has never been as big as Wi-Fi and Ethernet but that could change. Samsung had LCDs and plasma displays but their DLP HDTV offerings (Fig. 3) like the new Series 6 and Series 7 attracted the crowds. Samsung and others displayed their much-thinner DLPs, but none were near the size of LCDs or some of the new plasmas. Still, over two-thirds of the new HDTVs are not being mounted on-wall, so DLP price and performance remain very attractive. Texas Instruments showcased a variation of the glasses-based 3D technology DualView. This will be hot with gamers who want the whole screen to themselves. It allows two video sources to be interleaved on a per-frame basis. The frames are synchronized with the glasses, but instead of alternating between the left and right eye, the glasses alternate between player 1 and player 2. Each player sees their own video stream. Typically, the video sources are a pair of game boxes with each user having their own controls and audio output. Headphones definitely help in this instance. The advantage of a large screen display is that only one is needed. Small Displays Moving down in size, we come to the Sony XEL-1, (Fig. 4) one of the first OLED HDTVs. OLEDs can be power-misers compared to other technologies, but they can also be much thinner. They have a very high contrast ratio as well, but of course, these features come at a price. Other vendors also had OLED displays, most of which were portable. Large screens are on the way, and it’s only a matter of time before the consumer is inundated by four major display technologies (OLED, LCD, plasma, DLP). OLEDs are another technology to watch out for this year. They can easily replace the competition once cost and quantity are tackled — but this could take a few years. Flexible Displays Samsung’s $549 SyncMaster 2263DX was a hidden treasure, (Fig. 5) stuck in the middle of other Samsung displays. It adds a second, 7-in LCD display on a movable arm that enables it to be positioned anywhere around the primary display. The small LCD is driven by DisplayLink’s UbiSync USB-based graphics adapter. This makes it easy to plug into most PCs or laptops, since a second graphics adapter card is not required. It’s all in the USB adapter. The Windows driver software tracks screen orientation when rotating the screen. Yes, it rotates and moves. The main monitor includes a built-in webcam, microphone and speakers. Creative Displays While not strictly a display technology, Creative Technology’s inPerson (Fig. 6) takes advantage of an LCD display. Video conferencing has been around for ages, but factors like price, package, and availability are finally coming together. It’s portable, like a laptop, and has a built-in camera. The touch pad is more phone-like than PC-like. One of the big differences is the audio support that seems better than some conferencing systems I’ve used. At $700 a pop, it’s a bit pricey, but it will probably find a niche. The sale price is about $500, so we’ll see what happens. Long Term Projections …
… in tiny boxes. Mitsubishi’s PK20 LED DLP PocketProjector (Fig. 7) and OMT Digital Display Technology (Shenzhen) Limited OMT mini projector (Fig. 8) were some of many projection systems that continue to shrink as you watch. These small projectors have a native 800 by 600 pixel resolution but typically take other, higher definition inputs like 1080i with the usual results. The Mitsubishi model uses TI’s DLP technology with an LED light source while OMT uses a 0.62-in LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) panel. As might be expected, these systems have manual focusing and zoom controls, but that’s a reasonable tradeoff for something that will fit in a suitcase or a laptop bag. One nice feature of the PocketProjector is its SD memory card slot for standalone presentations. Up In Arms CES was host to a range of companies and there was a lot of furniture and hardware being touted. Some of it was movable like Clo Systems motorized panel mount system (Fig. 9). Various versions are available with one or more degrees of freedom (DOF). About a third of the LCD and plasma panels are wall mounted. They are getting lighter, making Clo’s job easier, but this opens opportunities. Those are the CES displays in a nutshell. Keep checking back for more topic reviews. Related Links Clo Systems Creative Technology Display Link OMT Digital Display Technology Mitsubishi Samsung Sony Texas Instruments

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