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LED backlighting will be adopted in large-screen LCDs much faster than previously thought, says Insight Media, which predicts cost-competitive LED back-lit 32-inch LCD TVs units by 2007.

Conventional wisdom has LED-based backlights not making significant inroads into large-screen LCD TVs until 2009 or so, but based on analysis done by Insight Media, LED backlighting will be adopted much faster than previously thought.

Driving this conclusion are several factors. First, development of high-brightness LEDs is occurring even faster than earlier aggressive forecasts. These developments promise brighter, more compact LEDs. This will in turn, enable the use of edge-illuminated backlight methods – even for large area LCD TVs. Many developers are focused on direct LED backlights, which will become price-performance competitive any time soon. Edge-illuminated backlights require fewer LEDs and, if forecasts for performance improvements hold true, they will become cost competitive with CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamps) sooner rather than later.

A third factor is the groundswell of backlight innovation currently underway to replace films and other light management structures. The combination of these three factors is now likely to lead to cost-competitive LED backlight units by 2007 in 32-inch LCD TVs, with larger sizes becoming price competitive in the following years. Couple this with the possibility of a company making a strategic decision to convert to LED backlights, and the factors are all in place to enable a rapid transition away from CCFL to LED-based backlight units (BLUs) beginning in 2008.

Intelligent backlights, particularly dimmable versions, will also make faster in-roads than commonly expected. Additionally, industry growth and technology changes will create headaches for CCFL BLU makers. CCFL shortages are likely to develop in 2007 because CCFL makers will be reluctant to invest in capacity that won’t be needed after the transition to LEDs.

While CCFL will continue to be an important and substantial backlight technology, the bulk of the growth after 2009 will be in LED based backlights.

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