Consumers Love Big Screens

This next post in our series examines consumer attitudes towards TV displays with a focus on screen sizes and key trends coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Not surprisingly, our recent consumer survey showed that bigger is better: respondents worldwide desire big flat screens.

The survey reflects this preference with respondents in all regions stating they favor bigger TVs. As for actual adoption of large TVs, in the U.S. 41% of respondents have a TV over 50 inches, while in China the number is 19%, and in India it is 16%. When you look at households owning a TV over 40 inches, it is 80% in the U.S., 65% in China, and 51% in India. With the preference for large TVs in mind, and with increasingly larger models coming out at ever-decreasing prices, we can expect the size of TV purchases in all of these regions to continue to grow.

But size isn’t everything. In China, consumers still focus on getting the highest quality image possible from TVs, no matter what size. When asked what the most important factor was in selecting their next flat screen TV, 40% of Chinese consumers chose display resolution. In comparison, only 24% of U.S. consumers and 23% of India consumers felt the same way.

At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show last week, screen size and image quality were strongly emphasized by TV makers. There were few TV models on display below 55 inches, and 65 inches and larger models were ubiquitous. As for image quality, LCD TVs made significant progress with the adoption of quantum dots (which increases the color gamet), full array LED backlights (enabling higher resolution local dimming and improved contrast ratio), and wider adoption of 4K resolution. Thinner TVs, some as thin as a cell phone, also were exhibited. OLED TV and curved form factors — both LCD and OLED — were also present, but I think these technologies could take several more years before they see wide adoption.

The attractiveness of these new features and form factors to consumers is clear, but enabling the high resolution, improved image quality, new form factors, and OLED technology involves increasingly complex precision films and manufacturing processes, and supplying this demand growth requires increased capacity investment by panel makers. To put things in perspective, for every one-inch growth in average TV screen size (diagonal length) , a new Gen 8.5 factory — the size of six football fields and full of Applied’s manufacturing equipment — is required in order to meet the additional area demand. For mobile devices, every one-inch growth in display size requires three new Gen 6 factories (each the size of three football fields). And it is not just the display area that is increasing; process complexity is also increasing to create these new TVs.

The good news is, at Applied we love complexity — the tougher the technology challenges, the better. Over the past two decades we’ve used our engineering expertise to make flat panel displays more powerful, portable, beautiful, and affordable. And the technology challenges have only just begun. Tomorrow’s advanced displays will require a 3X improvement in uniformity and a 10X reduction in defects in order to provide satisfactory production yields for larger screen formats. To achieve this, we are working closer than ever with customers — and our customers’ customers — to improve film deposition processes and yield: both key roadblocks to creating bigger and more vibrant displays for mobile and high-end TVs such as OLED and 4K. It’s only a matter of time before 4K achieves mass adoption and perpetuates a new buying cycle for displays.

To learn more about the new materials and tools we’re developing to improve display resolution and performance, check out the December issue of our Nanochip Technology Journal.

To learn more about our display survey, read my last blog post.

Be sure to let us know your own TV preferences below, and check back for our next post in the series.

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