Liquid crystal has won the battle with plasma, and LCD technology will take a bigger share of the large screen market than plasma displays in 2007-8, according to Sharp.

“The breakthrough was to be able to make such large displays cost-effectively,” Sven Stegemann, product marketing manager for LCDs at Sharp said recently. He said “The main reason for that is to be able to handle larger mother-glasses.” Sharp’s newest production line, called a generation eight line, will be able to handle mother-glasses measuring 2,400mm x 2,600mm. “They are larger than a human being,” said Stegemann. “The glass is only 0.7mm thick, it behaves like optical fibre, but we have to use it as a plate.”

In recent years there has been a generation every year with each handling a mother-glass 10 per cent bigger than the previous generation. The result for the consumer is: “Panel sizes are going up, and prices are going down, and more and more people are buying TFT LCD rather than plasma,” said Stegemann.

The generation eight line comes on-stream in September. As well as handling larger mother-glasses it willbe putting into production panels with a 1000:1 contrast ratio, claimed Sharp, improving on the 300:1 or 400:1 contrast ratio panels currently in the shops.

The improvement is contrast ratio is another reason why LCD has caught up with plasma. Sharp claimed it has prototyped LCDs with 1,000,000:1 contrast ratios. “The typical plasma size is 42 inches. We believe that LCD will overtake plasma in the 37 inch and larger market, in the 2007-2008 time frame,” said Stegemann. Sharp reckoned that the mainstream TV market will settle down at 37 inches to 45 inches. “Any change in that perception,” said Stegemann, “depends on a change in the architecture of houses.”

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