Networking key feature for flat panel TVs

According to market research firm DisplaySearch, in 2011, more than 27 per cent of TVs shipped worldwide will be able to connect to a network, a figure that is expected to rise 54 per cent to 155 million by 2015. The firm’s Q3’11 DisplaySearch Quarterly TV Design and Features Report suggests that in addition, 16 per cent of TVs shipping in Latin America in 2011 will be network-capable.

“The products shown at IFA Berlin this September demonstrate how networking is becoming a core feature of TVs,” advises Paul Gray, DisplaySearch Director of TV Electronics Research. “The idea of TVs and companion screens is a powerful value proposition, both for selling smart phones and tablets that communicate with the TV, but also for mobile services to be enjoyed on the best screen.”

DisplaySearch suggests that the latest generation of TV semiconductors, combined with digital broadcasting, is providing a fertile platform for rapid innovation in TV, in both mature and emerging markets.

At the same time, the TV semiconductor business is struggling with the problems of hyper-competition. Consolidation is still playing out, including the rise of MStar Semi and Mediatek. TV manufacturers are restructuring their business models following losses in the first half of 2011. In addition, new lower cost LCD panel technology using LED backlights, shifts to out-sourcing, and new set designs are being investigated.

DisplaySearch also suggests that integration and innovation in semiconductors is powering new capabilities, with networking emerging as an important new function. Consumer research suggests that the connection rate of TVs doubles when they have a wireless networking capability. TV manufacturers are responding and analysis of product ranges shown at IFA Berlin reveals how far wireless is filling product ranges.

“Consumer wishes are very clear – no new wires,” advises Gray. “The incorporation of wireless allows more than just networking, with powerful ad-hoc functions such as transfer of photos and video from a smart phone to a TV using Wireless Direct, or a programme guide to be navigated without interrupting viewing.”

At the same time, suggests DisplaySearch, TV IC innovation is not just extra featuring; it is enabling a re-shaping of the TV value chain. With TV manufacturers re-structuring their value chains, the latest TV ICs enable them to assemble sets from ‘open cell’ LCDs instead of buying complete LCD modules. One of the key enabling technologies is integration of the LCD timing controller into the main TV chip. This is examined in detail in the report.

“IC innovation is not just about decorating sets with extra featuring, but enables set makers to slim down their manufacturing,” adds Gray.

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