LED LCD TVs: Gaining Ground

The industry analyst firm DisplayBank has released a presentation that gives an overview of the flat panel display industry, with some special emphasis on LCD HDTVs with LED backlights. This is the segment of the market that some manufacturers have chosen to call “LED TVs”, which is a term that many people find misleading.

LED backlights have a number of advantages over the traditional fluorescent tube backlights. They have better color performance, enable advanced features such as localized dimming, and do not require the use of mercury, which is a hazardous material. LEDs remain more expensive than fluorescent backlights, however. DisplayBank shows that the average LCD TV with an LED backlight sells for about 1.4 to 1.5 times as much as an equivalent model with a fluorescent backlight. Manufacturers are developing ways to cut these costs, through the use of fewer LEDs and more efficient light guides. The light guides are also likely to get thinner — saving material — and they will be fabricated in less expensive ways. Even with these reductions, however, DisplayBank still forecasts that a 46″ LED backlight LCD TV will still cost nearly one-fourth more than a fluorescent model by the end of 2011.

In spite of the price premium, DisplayBank still predicts that the share of LED backlights will grow rapidly. Their 2.4% share of the global LCD TV market in 2009 will leap to 16% next year. By 2012, the LED backlight share will be more than 40%, and becoming the dominant design with more than 60% of the market in 2013.

So if you want the improved image quality offered by an LED backlight on your next LCD HDTV, be prepared to pay extra.