I’m not sure that the consumers agree, but LCD makers appear to think that the way to the hearts (and wallets) of HDTV buyers is to make their panels thinner and lighter. At SID 2008, there were plenty of efforts on display that indicate some interesting developments along this line.
The key to thinner LCD panels is to make thinner backlights. Traditional designs rely on multiple fluorescent light tubes snaking behind the LCD layer. Using LEDs as the light source make it possible to trim some of that thickness away, by putting the LEDs along the edge and using sophisticated diffusers to spread the light out across the whole panel.
OSRAM was showing their MicroSIDELED technology that uses an array of LEDs in an edgelight design that is just 0.6 mm thick. A joint project between Global Lighting, Luminus (makers of the PhlatLight high brightness LEDs), and Jabsco has resulted in a “blade” diffuser design that can light up a 46″ LCD panel with just 24 LEDs. There is one each of red, green, and blue in the eight blades it takes to make a complete backlight. Samsung showed two prototype thin LCD panels: a 19.5 mm thick 52″, and a 10 mm thick 40″. 10 mm is less than 0.4 inches, so this 40″ panel was less than 13/32 inch thick.
Perhaps the most impressive of all the thin LCD HDTVs was a panel on display at the AU Optronics booth. Less than 10 mm thick, the 42″ LCD panel was rated at an impressive 450 cd/m2 brightness. Observers were clearly impressed by this bit of clever engineering.
Unfortunately, most people look more or less straight at their flat panel televisions. As a result, I don’t think even an inch difference in thickness is going to be a feature that most people would pay a lot more to get. Tell me if I’m wrong; say you could buy a typical 42″ 1080p LCD HDTV for $1,000, how much more would you pay for the identical panel that was only half as thick? Write me at email@example.com and tell me what you think.