SAN DIEGO –
Despite trends showing U.S. consumers continue to seek value above frills when making big-screen purchases, Jim Sanduski, Sharp’s strategic product marketing VP, said his company is well positioned to capitalize from changes in today’s market.
“Price aside – there is an opportunity for the consumer to super size their primary TV from today,” Sanduski told an audience attending the DisplaySearch Flat Panel Display Conference at the Hard Rock Hotel here.
Sanduski acknowledged Display- Search pronouncements that the race to bigger and bigger generation LCD panel fabs may be over for good, but he said Sharp continues to operate the world’s only facility that produces Gen 10 mother glass, which has given the company strength in producing affordably priced big-screen LCD TVs.
Still, Sanduski said, Sharp is not immune from the challenges in the market and recently opted to shift its LCD panel strategy. Going forward, the company is focusing on two ends of the panel business – screens measuring 10 inches and smaller for the mobile device market and screens measuring 60 inches and larger for the home-theater market.
Sharp will leave to competitors the monitor-sized 32-, 40- and 50-inch screen sizes, where “Sharp cannot add a lot of value,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sharp’s LCD panel fab No. 2 in Kameyama, Japan is being “repurposed from making 60-inch panels to mobile sized glass.”
The plant will produce specialized glass called IGZO (indium, gallium and zinc), which is said to yield superhigh- resolution images, high picture quality and low power consumption.
Sanduski said the decision to focus on two ends of the LCD panel business was dictated by the best possible revenue opportunities, pointing out that 60-inch and larger TV panels account for nearly a fifth of industry revenue.
Sharp’s $5 billion Gen 10 facility in Sakai, Japan, will continue to focus on very large screen glass sizes, as it produces sheets of mother glass measuring 9 feet by 10 feet, from a single glass substrate with credit card thickness. Gen 10 mother glass will yield eight 60-inch panels from a single sheet, offering the best possible cost efficiency.
Sharp will also continue to produce and develop its Quattron RGB+Y technology, which is said to produce brighter yellows and greens, while deepening the blues displayed in skies and oceans.
For the future, Sharp is studying LCD panels with 4K (QFHD) resolution (3,820 by 2,160 pixels) and up to 8K Ultra HD (7,680 by 4,320 pixels).
As for the market potential of 4K displays, Sanduski pointed out that the content “infrastructure is coming along nicely, pointing out that many films are shot in 4K today. The HDMI 1.4 spec supports 4K resolution, and our expectation is that the 4K spec will be added to Blu-ray Disc.”
Sony, he said, has already shown a Blu-ray Disc with up to 100GBs of storage capacity on a single disc, which would be capable of holding a 4K HD movie with room to spare.
Sharp currently anticipates a 4K TV market launch in late 2012 or early 2013, Sanduski said.
Looking beyond that, Sanduski said Sharp is developing 8K display technology, which is also called Ultra HD. Japan’s NHK has already announced an 8K CMOS sensor at 120 fps, and it is possible today to make 8K scans from original 70mm film. To store it, Sony’s prototype multi-layer 200GB Blu-ray Disc could hold one hour and 45 minutes of 8K-encoded material.
But Sanduski warned that an 8K market introduction could be some time away. Among the bigger challenges left to be overcome is finding the bandwidth necessary for multichannel service providers to stream the massive data stream of the content.
In addition to LCD, OLED display technology holds promise for additional future display approaches, and could be used for large-screen 8K video as well.
Still, Sanduski said he expects large-screen LCD TVs to continue to be one of the fastest-growing display technology segments for some time.
The new 4K and 8K technologies added to LCD will provide larger sizes, picture-quality improvements, and new dimensions of color gamut and clarity, he said.