Thirty-five years ago, Sharp introduced the first LCD calculator. In 2001, Sharp introduced a 10-inch LCD TV for $1,299 and a 20-inch model for $5,999. Today, consumers can purchase a 65-inch LCD TV for less than $5,000. The evolution of LCD has taken us from a calculator to large-screen TVs up to 108 inches, and, most recently, to an ultra-thin LCD with 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, encased in a frame that is less than 1 inch thin. But we have only scratched the surface of the promise of LCD.
LCD is still evolving. In fact, LCD technology has completed only a little more than half of its evolution. Since an LCD is composed of several parts, including backlights, color filters and polarizing plates, among other things, there is always room for each of these individual technologies to improve — meaning the finished product has virtually unlimited potential.
One technology that has recently emerged in LCD TVs and is now available to consumers, is LED backlighting, both RGB and white LEDs. While these are both innovative and smart technologies, the RGB LED is the premium choice, providing a wider color spectrum and more accurate color reproduction for vibrant and true-to-life color. For Sharp’s new Limited Edition Aquos series, we combined the RGB LED backlights with our proprietary advanced color filter, enabling our TVs to reach 150 percent of the NTSC color gamut. In comparison, LCD TVs illuminated by white LED backlights achieve 100 percent of the color gamut — still an improvement over traditional CCFL, which achieves only 96 percent of the gamut.
Another benefit of RGB LEDs is increased energy efficiency, made possible through local dimming. RGB LEDs encompass clusters of three colors — red, green and blue — while a white LED backlight is a solid blue LED that uses colored phosphors to make it white. Since individual colors can be driven independently, remaining dark when not in use, LCD TVs using RGB LEDs have much higher energy efficiency than white LEDs that remain illuminated at all times.
As I mentioned above, earlier this year Sharp introduced to the U.S. the most advanced LCD TV in the world, our first RGB LED backlit LCD TV series — the Limited Edition Aquos series. With the RGB LED backlight, these models produce a staggering dynamic contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. These new backlighting technologies also allow us to produce thinner panels — in this case, just 1 inch thick.
Now, I know I can’t talk about evolving display technologies without discussing OLED. We believe OLED is a viable technology for the future and we’re keeping an eye on it, but it’s not ready for prime time when it comes to large-screen TVs. There are still some challenges it must overcome before it can enter the mainstream market, including a short product lifetime and the inability to be mass-produced at larger sizes, making it unaffordable to the mainstream consumer.
I am confident that LCD has a lasting future in the flat-panel display market and will continue to evolve. The competitive nature of the business pushes us all as manufacturers to introduce the next best thing and it is this driving force that has pushed us to produce some of the most mind-blowing LCD technologies today, beginning 35 years ago with the LCD calculator.