CES Surprise: Two Advanced LCD Technologies Appear in Soon-to-Ship Consumer TV Sets

Kenneth Werner

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TVs -Without prior fanfare – or even prior leaks – two advanced LCD technologies appeared in TV sets shown at CES in Las Vegas. Sets with one or another of the technologies will be available this year.

The technology that will be the more widely distributed of the two will appear in many Sony Bravia models. Sony calls it Triluminos and says it produces “the best color ever,” but Sony booth personnel could not produce a coherent explanation of what Triluminos actually is. However, Seth Coe-Sullivan and Jason Carlson of QD Vision had no trouble explaining it at all. Triluminos is Sony’s implementation of color system using a quantum-dot backlight, and the backlight unit uses a quantum-dot optical element developed and made by QD Vision. The element is a polymer strip containing an appropriate combination of two kinds of quantum dots: those that convert blue light to green light and those that convert blue light to red light. Blue light? Part of the quantum-dot approach is to use blue LEDs as the backlight’s light source instead of white LEDs.

The quantum-dot approach produces narrow spectral emissions for blue, red, and green, whereas the conventional approach produces a broad spectrum relatively weak in red and green components. The result is a larger color gamut and more saturated colors that produce an almost OLED-like appearance. QD Vision and competitor Nanosys have both been developing quantum-dot solutions for some time. Now, QD Vision’s implementation is significantly improving color quality across an entire line of Sony Bravia TVs.

The second innovation comes from Sharp and is genuinely difficult to explain. Sharp didn’t really try in its big press conference, simply saying that in addition to its coming 4Kx2K TVs, the company was introducing an FHD Quattron TV that produced images with close to 4Kx2K sharpness. This may sound like output of an overwrought marketing imagination after the drinking of too many glasses of sake. But the technology is real, and its implementation in a TV set in the Sharp booth was very, very effective. In addition, it is considerably less expensive to implement than true 4Kx2K.

In fact, Sharp has made no attempt to keep the technology secret, although the appearance of the set that embodies it did come as a surprise. The technology was carefully described at LatinDisplay 2010 (Sao Paulo, Brazil) by Yasuhiro Yoshida, Deputy General Manager of Sharp’s Display Systems Laboratories, and his presentation won the conference’s best paper award.

Very briefly, because a Quattron pixel contains four subpixels (red, green, blue, and yellow) instead of three, any given color can be created with more than one combination of primaries. This redundancy can be used to create two luminance peaks per pixel instead of the traditional one luminance peak per pixel. Thus, the panel can produce a true 4Kx2K image even though it contains only 2Kx1K (four-primary) pixels.

Both Sony’s and Sharp’s innovations have something in common. Each, in its own way, produces a dramatic improvement in image quality at much lower cost than the available alternatives.  -Ken Werner

4 Responses to CES Surprise: Two Advanced LCD Technologies Appear in Soon-to-Ship Consumer TV Sets

  1. Excellent article Ken…

    The implication is both OLED and 4K sets continue to face the “moving target” of LCD improvements, making it ever harder to displace the mainstream LCD technology.

    Steve

    Steve Sechrist
    January 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    • Steve: Yes. Especially with the continuing difficulties in implementing OLED-TV at a mass-market price, QD enhancement looks even more significant than it did before. With 4K, I’ll go even further. 4K provides such a powerful sense of depth on a 2D display that it makes stereoscopic 3D even more irrelevant than it is already proving to be. With a variety of suppliers at CES offering smaller 4K sets at prices less than that for a mid-size car, I believe that 4K will increase its market penetration far more quickly than previously predicted. Westinghouse Digital will have a 65-inch available at the end of Q1 at an MSRP of $3999 and a 50-inch available at the end of Q1 for $2499. There will also be a 55-inch and a 110-inch (available by special order). Incidentally, appreciating 4K at these “moderate” screen diagonals requires viewers to sit closer to the screen than than has been typical in the past.

      Ken Werner
      January 11, 2013 at 3:17 pm

  2. Interesting article indeed. Two interesting articles, actually.

    The gamut of the QD backlight is not necessarily larger because the spectrum has narrower peaks, but because the red and green peaks have been shifted outward. This allows a deeper red and a more saturated cyan. I would expect something closer to the DCI P3 gamut. I get the impression that the Triluminos trade mark will replace “x.v.Color” ?

    You have explained only how Sharp can talk the horizontal resolution up from 2k to 4k by making clever use of subpixel sampling. Which they have learned from my colleagues at Philips, by the way. (And due to 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 sampling you need 4k resolution only in the luminance, and only 2k in the chrominance.) You did not explain how the vertical resolution grows from 1k to 2k. There is a clever way, but I’m not sure that Sharp has publicly disclosed it, and I am not free to tell.

    Best,
    – Jeroen

    Jeroen Stessen
    January 11, 2013 at 4:12 am

  3. Jeroen,

    Thank you. You are, of course, correct about the gamut. With QDs, the wavelength of the emission peaks can be adjusted with a remarkable degree of freedom, allowing the gamut to be increased as you describe. “Triluminos” does not replace “x.v.Color” but may complement it. X.v. Color really didn’t go anywhere despite extensive promotion by Sony. Now that Triluminos provides a larger gamut that can support x.v.Color inexpensively, sources tell me that Sony is have a conversation about whether it makes sense to once again implement and promote the x.v.Color standard.

    On the Sharp sub-pixel-sampling 4K, Candice Brown Elliott of Nouvoyance has made the same point you did. I think I’m at fault here. Sharp certainly claimed 4K, but I now realize they may NOT have claimed 4Kx2K. I will check to make sure.

    Ken Werner
    January 11, 2013 at 3:35 pm

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