Inside Samsung’s Display Technology

We recently took a small forum poll in the General Hardware Forum about which questions we should ask Samsung involving new technologies and developments.  We got a chance to talk to Samsung's Product Marketing Manager for Displays over the phone and allowed her to address the questions you posed.

As mentioned previously, Hitachi has an ultra low response time monitor available on the market now (the CML174), with NEC/Mitsubishi developing another low response time monitor based on FFD technology.  The question posed to Samsung was what new technologies are on the rise to compete with such technology.  Currently, many Samsung monitors ship with PVA, also known as Pattern Vertical Alignment technology.  However, this technology only enables sub-25ms response times on TFT LCD’s.  Knowing this, Samsung is currently working on DCC or Dynamic Capacitance Compensation, which should enable 12ms (average) response times on new LCD’s.  Unfortunately, since this technology is still in development, we probably will not see a final product until late Q2 or even early Q3.

Fortunately, this scheduled release date also coincides with another expected release date.  When asked about the release of the much talked about SyncMaster 192T, we also were quoted the same timeframe, sometime between late Q2 and early Q3 (Samsung did not specifically quote that the 192T will feature DCC, although they mentioned that it will probably debut on 19” or higher monitors during that same time frame).  Other highlights about the 192T that were mentioned include a redesigned bezel and stand which will more likely resemble the 172T in this article.  We have already talked about the benefits of this design, so we were very pleased to see that it will be employed in other Samsung LCD’s in the future.

One of the most highly talked about questions in our forums was the question of whether or not OLED’s would play a large role in newer Samsung products.  OLED stands for Organic LED, which looks to be a very promising display technology.  Unlike traditional LCD’s, and OLED active matrix monitors can be almost paper thin, requiring less circuitry and no backlight.  Kodak and Dupont are currently the largest pursuers of technology in this field.  Samsung, however, does not have any future plans for the technology.  Apparently, a few years ago Samsung dabbled in the technology for research purposes, but did not find it useful enough to pursue in the long term.  OLED has the backing of major research funding and facilities, but until a large manufacturer backs the technology, OLED might never become an affordable alternative to traditional TFT LCDs.

The future will hold whether or not OLED will catch on in the consumer market, we were slightly disappointed to hear that Samsung did not have any long term plans to use it in the future.  Another interesting point users in the forums brought up was why we do not see resolutions higher than 1280x1024 on LCD’s in the market today, particularly in the 19” range.  We first expected Samsung to let us know how expensive it is to construct a monitor with such a dense resolution on a small surface.  We were slightly surprised when they answered that there simply is no demand for it.  Many of us know that running an LCD monitor on its non-native resolution typically renders the image pixilated.  Since the majority of the consumer market tends to use a 1280x1024 resolution on 19” LCDs, running a non native 1280x1024 on a 1600x1200 resolution LCD would result in a constantly pixilated image.  Samsung did point out to us that they have a 24” LCD (the 241WD) that is capable of 1920x1600 resolutions.

Finally, we posed the age old LCD versus CRT question, “When will we see the price difference disappear?”  Interestingly enough, Samsung had a few provoking numbers to put out for us.  Currently, Samsung compares their 15” LCD’s to the average 17” CRT.  They can do this because the viewable screen dimensions on an LCD are exactly 15”, while the viewable dimensions on a 17” CRT are closer to 16”.  Although not a perfect comparison, this works fine for our purposes.  Currently, we have seen a lot of 15” analog LCD’s retailing for under 400USD, while a mid range 17” CRT retails around 150USD.  As quoted, Samsung reported that 43% of Samsung monitors sold last year (2002) were LCDs.  Around 2005, Samsung predicts this number to be more than half.  Following current trends, CRTs and LCDs should be competitively priced by then.

As for the future, we got a little bit of inside information about new developments within Samsung.  Currently, they just finished their fifth generation LCD production facilities, which should increase efficiency by double on 17” LCDs.  To put the numbers into perspective, Samsung told us that using the fourth generation plant they could produce 12 15” screens on one substrate. Using the same production, they were able to produce about 8 17” LCD’s per substrate as well.  Using the new production facilities, they anticipate 15 – 15” LCD screens per substrate, and 15 – 17” per substrate as well.  Effectively, they will be doubling their efficiency on the 17” LCD screen production, which increases yields and lowers costs.  Since Samsung is the largest OEM and retail manufacturer of LCD’s, if they begin to cut costs, the whole market will be forced to follow.

Construction 172T Features

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