Bringing Flat Plasma Screens to More Homes

Last week, Fujitsu Hitachi Plasma Display Limited (FHP) announced that it has succeeded in developing what it calls the world's first 32- and 37-inch high-definition plasma display panels (PDPs). The new displays, which join FHP's existing lineup of 42-inch PDPs, use the company's proprietary ALIS (Alternate Lighting of Surfaces) drive-circuit technology and are intended for use as household television sets.

The PDP market—particularly the business-use segment—has grown rapidly, with 100,000 units sold in 1999, and 250,000 units expected to be sold this year. FHP says it anticipates that, by 2003, PDP demand will total 2.3 million units: 1.4 million for use in television sets, and 900,000 for business environments.

According to FHP, "Today, most large-screen consumer television sets range in size from 25 to 36 inches, but as CRTs, their larger screen surfaces require significant depth and weight. This constrains freedom of placement, particularly when household space is limited. On the other hand, thin, lightweight PDPs can be placed easily within even the most compact living quarters." FHP says that it aims to foster the greater use of PDPs in home environments with its 32- and 37-inch models, sizes that easily fit into most homes.

FHP claims that once digital broadcasting gets underway, there will be increased demand for high-definition, high-quality devices to clearly display not only moving video but also still images, including captioned text. "With previous-generation PDPs, reducing the screen size also reduced the area of cell illumination, and it was difficult to ensure brightness. However, high-definition PDPs using FHP's proprietary ALIS-method drive-circuit technology make possible both high definition and high luminosity. When digital broadcasting starts bringing high-definition images to peoples' homes, FHP's new PDPs will be able to display them with a vertical resolution of 1024 lines, making the devices leading contenders to capture the market for home-use widescreen television sets."

Preliminary information reveals that the 32-inch set will be able to display 1024x852 pixels, the 37-inch set 1024x1024 pixels. The important contrast-ratio specifications for the sets have not been released, but optimum viewing angle is reported to be 160°. Prices are still to be determined.

FHP reports that it is currently installing PDP production equipment, with initial pilot runs planned for January 2001, and commercial shipments of the new screens to begin by April 2001. The company says that the new facility will be able to produce 30,000 PDPs per month, mostly high-definition units. FHP plans to raise production to 60,000 units per month in 2002 in order to meet anticipated demand.