A focus on high-resolution, larger displays for smartphones, lower-priced tablets and advanced organic light-emitting-diode (OLED) televisions could be discerned at this year's CES event in Las Vegas, reflecting the efforts of both device and panel makers to differentiate their products. Such a trend accompanies growing consumer demand for lifelike viewing experiences as more content is being made available on the devices, according to the IHS iSuppli Mobile Handset Displays market tracker report from information and analytics provider IHS.
Among the mobile phone devices sporting larger displays featured at the event was the so-called phablet-a portmanteau of the words "phone" and "tablet"-for smartphones with displays sized 5-inches or larger.
Shipments of 5-inch-and-larger mobile handsets in 2013 are forecast to reach 60.4 million units, up a notable 136 percent from last year. Expansion in capacity related to low-temperature polysilicon liquid crystal display (LTPS LCD), as well as the resulting reduction in prices for large-size, high-resolution smartphone displays, will produce vigorous double-digit-rate expansion for shipments of 5-inch-and-larger smartphones over the next few years.
Chinese phone makers took the lead in new product launches for the 5-inch-and-larger smartphone category at CES this year. Huawei Technologies showcased what so far appears to be the world's largest smartphone, the Ascend Mate, with a 6.1-inch display, 720p high-definition (HD) pixel format at 361 pixels per inch (ppi). The company also unveiled the Ascend D2 with a 5-inch display and 1920 x 1080 pixel format at 443 ppi. Huawei rival ZTE launched the Grand S, which at a profile of 6.9 millimeters stakes claim to being the world's thinnest quad-core smartphone. The Grand S, along with TCL's Alcatel-branded One Touch Scribe HD and Lenovo's IdeaPhone K5, will have a pixel format of 1920 x 1080 on a 5-inch screen.
Lenovo also launched at the show the K900 with a 5.5-inch 1080p, 400-ppi Full HD display. Meanwhile, Sony Mobile from Japan introduced the Xperia Z, another 5-inch smartphone with a 1920 x 1080 pixel format.
At a display resolution of 443 ppi, the 5-inch phones with 1920 x 1080 pixel formats exceed the Retina Display resolution of 326 ppi on Apple's iPhone 5 and 267 ppi on the Galaxy Note II from Samsung Electronics. The new handsets included water-spill-proofing and shatter-resistant screens.
Much attention at CES was similarly lavished on smaller-sized tablets featuring competitive pricing. Acer's 7-inch Android offering, the Iconia B1-A71 at a 1024 x 768 pixel format, will be priced at $140-$150 here in the United States. In addition, the 7-inch 70 Titanium from Archos is competitively priced at $119. The availability of many choices and attractive price points is likely to boost the 7-inch tablet display market to 81.5 million units in 2013, up 46 percent from 2012, IHS iSuppli believes.
Hybrid tablet prototypes combined with Ultrabooks were also seen at the show, with the tablet portion of the device detachable from the computer. An example was Lenovo's latest ThinkPad Helix model with an 11.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 display. Lenovo also announced the IdeaPad Yoga 11-inch convertible laptop, which folds to become a touch-screen tablet. In addition, Asus debuted the Transformer All-in-One, an 18.5-inch hybrid detachable tablet from the PC featuring a pixel format of 1920 x 1080 pixel format. Other tablet launches included the Latitude 10 Essentials from Dell, with a 10.1-inch display featuring a 1366 x 768 pixel format and in-plane switching (IPS) technology, to be available on the market next month.
Viewers at the show were also transfixed by prominentally displayed active matrix organic light-emitting-diole (AMOLED) televisions being shown alongside leading-edge LCD TVs. In addition to standard Full High Definition (FHD) and 3-D 55-inch AMOLED TVs, both LG Electronics and Samsung showcased their own 55-inch curved AMOLED TV prototypes, competing to be the world's first at CES. A concave display with a slight curvature allows the distance between the viewer and TV screen to be the same from any angle for such curved TVs, providing an "IMAX-like view" to viewers, according to the manufacturers. Curved TVs are also likely to eliminate the problem of perspective distortion present in today's standard non-curved television sets, creating more lifelike viewing.
Unlike the FHD AMOLED TVs from the two South Korean companies, the Japanese decided to demonstrate higher-resolution 4K OLED TVs, with four times-or 4K-the resolution of standard HD sets.
Panasonic displayed a prototype of what it says is the world's largest 4K OLED TV, at 56-inches in size and at a thickness of only 0.5-inch. Sony also unveiled its latest 56-inch, 4K OLED TV prototype, developed in collaboration with AU Optronics of Taiwan. Also announced at the show was LG's 55-inch AMOLED model, the 55EM9700, to be available on the U.S. market starting March 2013 at $12,000.
Despite all the activity and positive buzz at CES, large-volume market availability of competitively priced AMOLED TV sets remains a few years out, IHS iSuppli believes.
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