Electronic Design

Stamp-Sized Ferroelectric LCD Can Power 50-in. TV Screens

For many years, the Holy Grail of the display community has been the enabling of both very large-screen and very small-screen high-resolution displays with optimal clarity, field of view, and performance. That's because achieving these qualities would result in a host of new consumer products. These would range from wall-hanging high-definition televisions (HDTVs), projection TVs, video cameras, and head-mounted displays to advanced mobile electronics and video applications. A variety of technologies have been proposed to fit the bill, yet none have successfully accomplished these goals.

That was until Displaytech Inc., Longmont, Calif., demonstrated its LightCaster microdisplay panel technology. Widely considered to be the first and only consumer high-resolution ferroelectric liquid-crystal display (FLCD), the LightCaster panel is roughly equivalent to the size of a postage stamp. It has an active area of only 16.9 by 10.14 mm, along with a 0.78-in. array diagonal. Also, it features a resolution of 1280 by 768 pixels.

FLCD technology offers a number of significant benefits, including full color and full motion for all video applications, high contrast for easy visibility, and high resolution for display of the latest digital content. It also boasts low power consumption and long battery life. All of this is accomplished without degrading display resolution. In fact, improved image photo quality is another benefit of FLCD technology. Because the technology is inexpensive to manufacture and enables products to get to market quickly, it is attractive to both OEMs and consumers alike.

The FLCD-based LightCaster is not a standalone product. Instead, it's a microdisplay engine that can be incorporated into various products. It's so powerful, bright, and clear, it can even be projected onto a 50-in. HDTV screen. Its miniature size means televisions with huge screens can have very slim profiles, since most of the parts that make up conventional TVs are no longer needed.

It makes sense, then, that the first commercially viable product to use LightCaster is Samsung Electronics' new line of large-screen HD-ready FLCD televisions. The line will include both a 43-in. as well as a 50-in. HDTV, powered by a 0.78-in. LightCaster FLCD microdisplay panel.

The 43-in. model weighs just 30 kg, one-third the weight of a typical 90-kg, 37-in. direct-view CRT TV with a Braun tube. It features 2.76 million pixels and 16.77 million color shades.

LightCaster is the primary component in both TVs, so they only have two-thirds the bulk of a conventional TV. The LightCaster-powered 50-in. FLCD TV is so thin, in fact, it can fit on an 18-in. shelf. This makes it a strong contender for the wall-hanging TV market.

Samsung Electronics has already completed development of the 43-in. FLCD television, and will soon complete a 50-in. model. These products will be exported under the name Tantus FLCD TV. Samsung expects to begin making large-scale shipments in the second quarter of this year.

For further details, surf into Displaytech's web site, which is located at www.displaytech.com.

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