LED to Overtake LCD by 2011

By Varun Aggarwal, CRN, Aug 15, 2006

LED technology is expected to witness unparallel adoption for any technology ever and will become the dominant display technology within the next two years

It isn’t common to see technology breakthroughs in the display industry. Even if a new technology offering new advances enters the market, it either dies mid-way (as in the case of plasma TVs) or takes an extremely long time to become mainstream.

LED, the latest buzzword in the market, is a little different from its predecessors in this regard. For one, the technology is not entirely new but is based on the already proven and matured LCD technology. For another, while the adoption level of LEDs in the television market is still slow it’s catching like wildfire in the monitor market.

Is the market ready?

The market is more than ready. Most vendors have either launched or are about to launch an entire range of LED monitors.

AOC, for instance, launched its LED monitors about a year ago and today has a complete portfolio of products. “We already have LED monitors across the entire segment—15.6-inch, 18.5-inch, 19-inch, 20-inch, 21.5-inch and 22-inch. We have multiple LED SKUs in 18.5-inch and above sizes, with entry-level and premium models,” informs Mukesh Gupta, Director, TPV Technology Group. AOC is also bringing its new LED monitor series to India in September. “The series is super-slim at only 1.13cm, and has been named Razor. It is the world’s slimmest LED Monitor ID with the widest color display and a dynamic contrast ratio of 50 million:1,” says Gupta. With this series, AOC plans to shift 80-90 percent of its 18.5-inch and 20-inch monitor range to LED.

LG has introduced three models thus far: E1940S (18.5-inch), E2040T (20-inch) and E2240T (21.5-inch). Says R Manikandan, Business Head, Business Solutions, LG Electronics India: “There has been good response to all three models with their design and features—especially in the 20-inch and 21.5-inch screen sizes—being well appreciated by trade partners as well as end users. We are looking to enhance the product offerings in this portfolio, and plan to launch a low-cost LED model in 15.6-inch, 22-inch and 23-inch to offer a full range to the customer.”

Manikandan continues, “LED is definitely the future in monitors. LED monitors—with their far better picture quality, slim design and up to 45 percent power savings—are a superior value proposition for customers. With more awareness about the products and their benefits, the technology will gain wider acceptance and will slowly replace LCD.

However, it will be a slow change since the category is at a nascent stage and price at present is a barrier. We estimate the LED monitor market to garner 30 percent share by the end 2010 and by 2011 it will become the mainstream technology with close to 70 percent share.”

Like AOC and LG, ViewSonic launched its LEDs about a year ago and is seeing good traction. “We currently have 15.6-inch, 18.5-inch and 22-inch models in LED, and within a quarter we will extend this portfolio to 23-inch and 27-inch. We will completely shift to LEDs by 2011 as we expect unparalleled adoption for the technology. We’re already seeing huge volumes for LED monitors,” says Gautam Ghosh, Country Manager, ViewSonic.

Samsung, which surprisingly has been late in introducing LED products in India, is now jumping on to the bandwagon with an entire series of LED monitors to be launched this month. “Globally, we have numerous products in the LED category, and we are in the process of building our Indian portfolio with the launch of a range of LED monitors,” says Ranjit Yadav, Director, IT & Mobile, Samsung. “LED has brought about a revolution in the tech landscape for monitors and televisions in terms of picture quality and image clarity. The technology offers crystal-clear images, deeper blacks, and the most realistic colors available today.”

Benefits of LED

LCD technology faced numerous challenges when it was launched, and for a long time CRT continued to challenge LCD monitors. Apart from a huge price premium, LCD picture quality was initially poor with a low contrast ratio, high response time and high error rates. This made it difficult to manufacture larger panels. Even in the television space, LCDs were challenged by the old plasma TVs for which bigger panels could be built with ease. It took more than five years for LCD technology to mature and become mainstream.

LED technology doesn’t need to go through this maturity curve of a few years, so it is expected to be mainstream within a year—one of the reasons being that LED technology is based on LCD technology which is already matured and proven in the market. Thus, issues such as high error rates in larger panels are non-existent in LED. LED also overcomes other limitations of LCD such as motion blur, thus making HD viewing and the gaming experience even better.

The core difference between LCD and LED technology is that conventional cold cathode florescent lamps (CCFL) are used to illuminate LCD pixels while in the case of LED monitors these are replaced by tiny light emitting diodes.

Bottomline

When LCDs were launched in India, they were priced more than three times higher than CRT monitors. That is not the case with LEDs. In the TV space, LEDs demand about 50-60 percent price premium over LCDs. In the monitor space, with growing volumes, the price differential is pretty low. “There is hardly a 10-15 percent price premium for LED which is also expected to go within a year’s time,” comments Ghosh. “Our 15.6-inch LED sells for about `6,800 in the market. The LCD monitors are only about `500 cheaper.”

Given the various benefits of the technology minus the overheads of innovation, LED is expected to rule the monitor market by 2011.

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