LCD monitors advances ignites price fall

Summary:Flat panels are getting cheaper, lighter, thinner, and sharper. When Compaq Computer introduced its TFT500 flat-panel display on June 2, 1997, the company claimed it was "defining the industry bar for the future of flat-panel technology.

Flat panels are getting cheaper, lighter, thinner, and sharper. When Compaq Computer introduced its TFT500 flat-panel display on June 2, 1997, the company claimed it was "defining the industry bar for the future of flat-panel technology."

Priced at $3,799, the 15.1-inch, active-matrix flat-panel monitor offered one of the industry's lowest prices. How times have changed. Compaq's 15-inch flat panel now costs $1,199, a price reduction of around 68 percent.

That's only the beginning. More recently, Panasonic set another milestone with its PanaFlat LC90s, an under-$2,000 19-inch flat panel that goes into production in November. Until now, large-screen flat panels have been true luxuries, priced in the neighborhood of $3,000. The new LC90s has a 1,280-by-1,024 resolution, built-in speakers, and five USB ports.

Several research projects now underway hold promise for a new generation of advanced flat panels. Philips Flat Display Systems recently launched one with Who Vision, a maker of fingerprint ID systems, to build fingerprint recognition sensors from the same thin-film transistors used to build flat panels. The sensors could be integrated into mobile phones, hand-held companions, and notebook computers. Eventually, the combination of the two technologies could enable the development of flat-panel displays with built-in fingerprint recognition for security.

Meanwhile, scientists at IBM Research's Advanced Display Technology Lab recently developed an active-matrix LCD with 200 pixels per inch--twice the number of pixels in a desktop monitor--capable of displaying images at extremely high resolutions. Code-named Roentgen, the 16.3-inch LCD can display a street map of Manhattan with every street name readable with the naked eye.

And IBM's Yamato Laboratory in Japan recently claimed to have developed the world's thinnest active-matrix color LCD, measuring just under 5 mm in thickness. According to IBM, its engineers achieved three technology breakthroughs: chip-on-glass technology, the world's thinnest backlight design, and the smallest control circuit board. IBM plans to use the panel in a new generation of lighter, thinner notebook PCs in 1999.

Topics: IBM, Hardware

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