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Display continue to evolve

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Japanese manufacturers, anticipating the start of terrestrial digital television broadcasting in December, are introducing numerous new plasma display panel (PDP) and LCD televisions. The field of new displays also includes organic electroluminescence (EL), inorganic EL and micro-displays. Full-scale diffusion of televisions in Japan began with the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964. The display technologies formed part of the CEATEC JAPAN 2003 event which claims to be one of the largest international exhibitions in Asia for the information technology (IT) and electronics sectors.

According to the organisers, display manufacturers are also looking beyond the concept of a device to simply view images and are adding new functions. Sharp Corporation ’s system LCI, for example, features built-in audio circuits on the glass panel of the LCD. By embedding the audio circuit in the LCD the company says it was able to make this display even more compact than existing models. For its part Toshiba Matsushita Display offers a conceptual “Input Display”; the product uses a low-temperature polysilicon TFT-LCD, and can also scan images.

Smaller displays, like those for mobiles, car navigation systems and PDAs are employing organic EL technology say CEATEC’s organisers. Recent advances in organic EL displays, which use less power than inorganic EL displays, are making higher resolution and longer life products available. TDK, for example, has a conceptual exhibit of a 6.5-inch (165-mm) organic EL display, which it plans to launch commercially around the end of 2004. Meanwhile, inorganic EL colour displays, which are approaching commercialisation, are aimed at industrial use, including display panels for aircraft. Their operating temperature range is wider than that of LCD displays. Micro Emissive Displays, the Scottish company that entered the spotlight last year for its development of the world’s smallest micro-display, has demonstrated an ultracompact micro-display capable of displaying in colour. The company is targeting sales of the display for use in digital camera viewfinders and digital video cameras.

In related news, the UK government has called for manufacturers to set design and use standards for digital TVs and set top boxes (STBs), describing them as “confusing and difficult to use,” reports Richard Ball in Electronics Weekly, a sister title of Electronics News.

A report from consulting firm Generics, commissioned by the DTI, found that over 7 percent of the UK population are unable to use a digital STB for simple everyday viewing, compared to less than 3 percent with analogue TV.

“The UK leads the world in take up of digital TV, and we must not squander the opportunity to make the most of this advantage. This report provides a wake-up call to the industry,” e-commerce Minister Stephen Timms says.

Barriers to use include poor STB design and “non-intuitive” systems. Even changing channel can be confusing, the DTI said.

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