Overview / Main Features
The "Limited Edition Aquos LC-52XS1U is the flagship ultra-thin LCD television offering by Sharp. Priced at an astronomical retail of $12000, the 52 inch XS1 television is reserved really for the most discerning and posh consumer with lots of disposable income. However, the story with the XS1 isn't really about the out-of-reach retail cost of the TV but rather the enabling technology that allows Sharp to put together a display panel that measure no more than an inch in thickness.
As with the Sony Bravia XBR8 [previously analyzed] the Sharp XS1 TV uses RGB LED backlighting with localized dimming to achieve a dynamic contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. However, unlike the Sony where the 288 RGB LED clusters project across several inches from the back to the front of the LCD panel, the 1152 RGB LEDs in the Sharp XS1 cast its light nearly within direct contact with the LCD glass panel. In fact, in order to achieve the ultra-thin profile of the television, Sharp developed a unique periscopic light pipe design that directs the discrete LED light source onto a near perfect 1 inch square of backlight behind the 52 inch display [~1152 square inches of display surface].
The backlight unit on the Sharp XS1 is truly a work of art in term of sheer complexity and functionality. Each of the 1152 RGB LED are mounted perpendicular to the image plane (like wall sconces). The backlight is then transmitted via a specialized light pipe pairs [arranged in intricate overlapping and tappered tiles like roof shingles] that cover the entire 52 inch diagonal display and also serves to direct portion of that light to the 576 photo-detectors (see teardown photos for details) for calibration and image control.
Due to the strikingly slim design of the television, Sharp opted to separate the audio/video controls into a separate set-top box unit (TU-X1U AVC) in order to keep the aesthetics of the television. The AVC unit functions as the tuner as well as the source input hub featuring 5 HDMI input ports. The AVC connects to the XS1 television monitor via a single HDMI connection. The TU-X1U AVC Unit is analyzed in a separate teardown analysis from the main television monitor. Refer to this analysis for pricing of the AVC unit.
Per press releases, first announce in August 2008 - released into European markets in October 2008 & available in US retail channels by end of 2008.
Pricing and Availability
Pricing - The 52 inch version of the Sharp XS1 retails for approximately $12000 at the time of writing (June 2009).
Availability - The model under analysis is an US or North American model (the ""U" in LC-52XS1U). Other global models are available - such as the ""E" version for Europe with slight variations on refresh rate and video format specifications. Overall, the XS1 line of Sharp television is assumed to be made globally available.
For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed a lifetime production volume of 100K units.
As a reminder, teardown volume production assumptions are primarily used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially). Unless assumed volumes are different by an order of magnitude, minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis because of this.
Market / Sector Performance
Within the North America LCD television market, the top 3 players are Samsung with 23.4% followed by Sony with 17.2% and Sharp at 10.9% based on a research by iSuppli titled ""Television Systems Q4 2008 Market Tracker". Of interesting note, low cost leader Visio is catching up with both Sharp and Sony as a contender and in the Q1 2009 Market Tracker took the lead in North America.
Overall, Sharp distinguishes itself from its competitors by investing in R&D and developing design advancements in HD, fast refresh rates and high contrast LCD televisions.
Main Cost Drivers Representing ~69% of total materials cost
Glass Panel w/Flex Interconnect and Drivers
Backlight PBC Assembly B (Qty:6)
Backlight PBC Assembly C (Qty:6)
Backlight PBC Assembly A (Qty:6)
Backlight LED Lightpipe - Clear Injection Molded Polycarbonate (Qty:576)
Backlight Mounting Panel - Stamped / Formed, Electro-Galvanized Steel, w/ 86 Pressed-In Internally Threaded Metal Standoffs and 180 Pressed-In Internally Threaded Inserts
A/V Processing PCB
Sharp - RH-1XC068WJQZ - Audio / Video Processor
Enclosure, Main, Rear - Injection Molded Flame Retardant PolyphenyleneEther-Polystyrene, Painted
Total BOM Cost $2694.75
What Is Not Included in our Cost Analysis
The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.
OEM/ODM/EMS Relationships / Manufacturing
According to iSuppli's EMS and ODM Market Analysis research on flat panel televisions titled, ""Global OEM Manufacturing and Design Analysis - Q3 2007", Sharp manufactures nearly all of their flat panel television internally. Specifically, the XS1 series television was manufactured in their flagship plant in Kameyama, Japan.
Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions
Based on markings, the unit was assembled in Japan. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc.) were also sourced close to assembly in Japan.
Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of 'finished' sub-assemblies (such as LCD display panel), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.
Remember also that labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. ""Auto" inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pincount of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.
Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity
The Sharp LC-52XS1U has an overall component count of 9823, of which, 3571 are mechanical in nature. This total represents the sum of the discrete parts. This total component count represents an elevated sum when compared to previously analyzed LCD televisions which typically run in the neighborhood of 2000 parts. Majority of the increased complexity comes in the forms of the very complex display panel as well as very densely populated PCBs which is a direct result from the enhancements in feature set.
Component counts have a direct bearing on the overall manufacturing cycle times and costs, and also can increase or decrease overall yields and re-work. Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design. The cost of manufacturing is also, to some extent, decreased in this case because of assumed labor rate applied for Japan.
Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.
There are 3 design features of note in the Sharp Aquos LC-52XS1U television:
RGB LED backlight array -
The 1152 RGB LEDs are spread across 6 sets of a three-piece backlight PCB assembly covering the entire footprint of the LCD glass panel. Each of the 18 discrete backlight PCBs contain an array of 64 RGB LEDs grouped in sets of twos and pair along with one photo-detector which mates directly with each of the 576 discrete light pipes. Due to the sheer number of LEDs (the most we have seen in a television) and the slim profile, Sharp likely opted to use a larger number of relatively low-powered RGB LED rather than to use fewer but brighter LEDs found in the Sony Bravia XBR8 unit.
A/V Processing PCB -
In the main audio/visual processing electronics, we find (not surprisingly) a Sharp RH-1XC068WJQZ A/V processor at the core of the design along with a pair of Altera FPGA and CPLD.
Display Controller PCB -
We would expect the display controller in the XS1 to be a custom solution given the unique design of the backlight system. Here, in the display controller PCB, we see a Sharp solution with Sharp's RH-IXC314WJZZQ, RH-IXC524WJQZQ and RH-IXC313WJN1Q display controller ICs.
Here is a summary of the major components used in the Sharp Aquos LC-52XS1U television design:
- TFT - WUXGA, 52' Diagonal, 1920 x 1080 Pixels (16:9)
- Backlight PCB Assembly A (Quantity 6)
- Backlight PCB Assembly B (Quantity 6)
- Backlight PCB Assembly C (Quantity 6)
- FPGA - Altera - EP3C25F256C8N (Quantity 6)
A/V Processing PCB
- Audio / Video Processor - Sharp - RH-1XC068WJQZ
MCU & Glue Logic
- FPGA - Altera - EP3C25F256C8N, Cyclone III, 24,624 Logic Elements, 594Kbit Memory, 66 Multipliers, 156 User I/O's, 4 PLLs
- CPLD - Altera - EPM1270F256C5N, MAX II, 1270 Logic Elements, 980 Typical Equivalent Macrocells, 212 User I/O's
- Microcontroller - Renesas - R5F364V6NFB,16-Bit, CISC
I/O & Interface
- HDMI Receiver - Silicon Image - SiI9125CTU, V1.3, Dual Input, DVI 1.0, EIA/CEA-861D, HDCP 1.1, w/ 36-bit Color Depth
- LVDS Transmitter - Thine Electronics - THC63LVD1023, Programmable, 67bits, 150/135MHz Single/Dual Link, Up to 1080p QXGA, 3.3V
- SDRAM - Hynix - H5PS5162FFR, DDR2, 512Mb (32Mx16), 1.8V
Display Controller PCB
- Display Controller IC - Sharp - RH-IXC314WJZZQ (Contains NEC Die)
- Display Controller IC - Sharp - RH-IXC524WJQZQ (Contains NEC Die)
- Display Controller IC - Sharp - RH-IXC313WJN1Q
- SDRAM - Elpida - EDD1232ABBH-5C-E, DDR400, 128Mb (4M x 32)