Toshiba Set to Use Sharp LCD Panels in Its Televisions
You know LCD television production is getting to be a tough business model when you see two rival Japanese companies coming together out of nowhere to share technologies. On Friday, December 21, 2007 Toshiba announced they will be purchasing their LCD panels from Sharp. As part of an alliance that has many in this business stepping back and waiting for frogs to start hailing down from above, Sharp will reciprocate by purchasing more computer chips for use in LCDs from Toshiba.
There are a couple of observations that can be made from this announcement. First of all, Sharp's new thin LCD panel technology - which failed to materialize at CEDIA 2007 to our shagrin and utter astonishment - is impressive. At least it is impressive by the numbers. A 3/4-inch thin LCD panel is nothing to sneeze at - especially when Toshiba's newest 46-inch REGZA display measured in at nearly 6-inches thick and had me wondering if they had somehow missed the class on how to make LCD panels thin in this age of wall-mounting and streamlining. Thin is in.
The second observation I must make is that Toshiba uses very mediocre video display processing chips. Let's hope that Sharp takes advantage of their THINC networking technology and goes elsewhere for deinterlacing, motion adaptive noise reduction and scaling.
Looking at this recent move, the biggest players in the world of LCD are now Sharp, Samsung and Sony. And Samsung is already working with both Sony and Hitachi. Hitachi, on the other hand is rumored to be selling out its stake with Matsushita (Panasonic) which effectively takes it out of the LCD panel production business. Matsushita, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall of plasma technology (at which it excels) is looking to get more into LCD, and hit it hard.
As prices drop, and companies consolidate, the future is uncertain, but consumers should safely remain optimistic that panel prices will continue to drop. New technologies like OLED will be slow to market and will, by necessity, have to be positioned as higher-end alternatives in order to compete and reach a mass production level sufficient to allow prices to drop even remotely close to current LCD and plasma levels.
All things being equal, 2008 should be yet another good year to buy a flat panel TV.
Panasonic has to hedge their bets. They got out of the rear projection market. The average consumer prefers the washed out, overly bright inaccurate colors that pop from a LCD in tourch mode to the natural more realistic colors of a plasma.
When did Panasonic switch from Plasma to LCD? Last I heard they were supporting Plasma in full force.