Samsung to launch 40-inch LCD TV with LED backlight

Aiming to kick-start the market for LED backlights in large LCD displays, Samsung is launching a 40-inch TV in Europe priced at around $3000.

Samsung Electronics is to launch a 40-inch LCD TV incorporating a LED backlighting unit (BLU) in Europe September this year, according to Displaybank, a Korea-based display research firm.

The launch seems to be designed to gauge the market potential of this technology, rather than in expectation of high-volume sales. Although Displaybank estimates the price will be around $3000, this is significantly higher than the price of around $1900 for an equivalent TV with a CCFL backlight.

However, the price premium is seen as a realistic reflection of the much higher cost of LED backlight units. Displaybank feels that the product launch is part of Samsung's strategy is to stimulate the market for high-end LCD TVs with a realistic pricing approach.

Sony introduced LED-backlit LCD TVs in its Qualia range in August 2004, with 40- and 46-inch models priced at around $7500 and $10,000, respectively (see Sony introduces first televisions to feature LED backlights). Sales were minimal, and Sony has now withdrawn its entire Qualia brand, although a Sony spokesperson told LEDs Magazine that LED backlighting will reappear in models in the company's Bravia range, in due course.

In the last two years, prices for LCD panels, as well as for both LED and CCFL backlights, have fallen considerably, allowing Samsung to target the $3000 level for its product.

Sony said that power consumption was the main drawback, in addition to high cost, of the LED backlight used in its Qualia model. The systems used more than 400 one-watt LEDs from Lumileds in red, blue and green. The major advantage of using LEDs is the wide color gamut and enhanced color reproduction, although Sony has also developed wide color gamut (WCG) CCFL backlights that offer a significant improvement over standard CCFLs.

• In related news, Digitimes reports that two Taiwan-based notebook makers, Asustek Computer and Quanta Computer, have started volume production of widescreen notebooks that feature LED-backlit LCD displays. Such products are already on sale from Sony, Toshiba and Fujitsu.

Taiwan's LED suppliers expect to see a penetration rate of 8% for LED backlights in notebooks, providing that pricing continues to fall and the thickness of light-guide plates continues to fall.

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