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Panasonic touts tottering plasma display technology

Posted: 22 Feb 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:lcd? pdp? matsushita electric?

Engineers and executives of the Panasonic Technologies Co. hit the road this week to tout the advantages of plasma display technology over LCDs. They stressed the advantages of PDPs over LCDs in and viewing angle especially with flat screen TVs larger than 37 inches.

Panasonic, the consumer products division of Matsushita Electric Corp. of America, has been under pressure from critics over the longevity and power consumption of its plasma display products. It recruited Larry Weber, video technologist and former president of the Society for Information Display, to make the case for its PDP technology.

"Plasma is on the defense right now," confirmed Cliff Roth, a consumer industry observer, and manager of CMP's video and imaging design Web site. "As with incandescent lamps, the image brightness deteriorates over time. The plasma TV in your home never looks as good as the day you first bought it."

"Each pixel element of the plasma display is actually a miniature lamp," Weber said. Early-generation plasma suffered from "burn in" issues, an uneven aging of phosphors that would appear to darken the picture over time. Thus, early plasma displays would be good for up to 30,000 hours before their brightness was reduced by one-half, Weber acknowledged.

Current technology provides up to 60,000 hours of viewing, Panasonic claimed. The "half-brightness" of LCDs, in comparison, are rated for 100,000 hours, but may only last up to 20,000 hours before a backlight fails, said Jim Noecker, a senior digital engineer with the company's plasma display laboratory. Third-generation plasma displays are expected to extend their half-brightness level out to 100,000 hours, Noecker said.

Panasonic, which markets LCD and rear-projection TVs in addition to PDPs, is particularly concerned about the American TV market. It claims to have been the first to ship a digital television into the American market, said Jeffrey Cove, vice president of Panasonic's business development group.

As CRT technology is replaced by flat panels, the company is projecting a 70 percent annual growth rate for flat panels through 2007. The large-screen TV market will be dominated by plasma technology, Cove said, though LCDs and PDPs show comparable pricing in the 32- to 37-inch range.

Plasma displays offer higher contrast and wider viewing angles, Panasonic demonstrated, though LCDs offer higher contrast in bright-light conditions. LCDs require polarizing filters, which have a tendency to block light, Weber said.

"While LCDs are reputed to consume less power than plasma displays, the issue of power consumption is overrated," he said. "Everyone points to the maximum consumption - up to 350 watts for a plasma display. In actual use, the power curve will go up and down with the intensity of images you're displaying, and is usually quite close to the power consumed by a conventional CRT."

- Stephan Ohr

EE Times

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