Samsung Electronics wants to see TVs made using liquid crystal display (LCD) panels compete more closely against those based on plasma display panel (PDP) screens, a company executive said Monday.
PDP and LCD TVs occupy different segments of the flat-panel television market, with PDPs generally used for larger screens, or those that measure more than 40 inches across the diagonal. However, Samsung hopes that a new factory set to start production late next year will permit volume production of LCD TVs with screens that measure 50 inches or more across the diagonal.
"If they lose the final battlefield at 50 inches, I think the future is very cloudy for PDPs," said Jun Souk, executive vice president of Samsung’s LCD research and development center, speaking at a conference in Singapore. "It’s a big problem."
To push PDPs out of the market for TVs in the 50-inch range, LCD makers such as Samsung and Sony have to show they can bring down the costs of larger panels, Souk said. PDP makers face their own challenges, including proving they can produce screens with full 1,080p high definition in volume, he said.
Samsung is counting on a new joint-venture factory it’s building with Sony to produce larger panels that can compete against PDP screens at sizes larger than 50 inches. That factory, being built in Tangjeong, South Korea, is an eighth-generation (8G) factory, using sheets of glass that measure 2 by 2.5 meters to produce LCD panels—larger than the panels used by existing plants.
The larger sheets and improvements to the manufacturing process will help Samsung and Sony produce larger panels more efficiently, Souk said. The partners also expect to get high yields from the plant, making volume production of 52-inch LCD TVs possible at lower costs, he said.
"Samsung is concentrating on large-size panels," Souk said, noting that the company’s most advanced plant currently in operation produces 40-inch panels in volume. The same plant—which produces 1 million panels for LCD TVs every month—also produces larger sizes in smaller quantities, including panels that measure 70 inches across the diagonal, he said.
When the 8G factory enters production in late 2007, it will lead Samsung’s efforts to make TVs that use 46-inch and 52-inch panels a standard in the marketplace. "We’re working very hard to make this happen," Souk said.
-Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service (Singapore Bureau)