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Samsung plots showdown between flat-panel TVs

Reduces costs of 50in LCDs with new factory

Samsung wants to see TVs made using LCD panels compete more closely against those based on PDP (plasma display panel) screens, a company executive said today.

PDP and LCD TVs occupy different segments of the flat-panel television market, with PDPs generally used for larger screens, or those that measure more than 40in across the diagonal. However, Samsung hopes that a new factory set to start production late next year will permit volume production of LCD TVs with screens that measure 50in or more across the diagonal.

"If they lose the final battlefield at 50in, I think the future is very cloudy for PDPs," said Jun Souk, executive vice-president of Samsung's LCD R&D centre, speaking at a conference in Singapore. "It's a big problem."

To push PDPs out of the market for TVs in the 50in range, LCD makers such as Samsung and Sony have to show they can bring down the costs of larger panels, Souk said. PDP makers face their own challenges, including proving they can produce screens with full 1,080p HD (high definition) in volume, he said.

Samsung is counting on a new joint-venture factory it's building with Sony to produce larger panels that can compete against PDP screens at sizes above 50in. That factory, being built in Tangjeong, South Korea, is an eighth-generation factory, using sheets of glass that measure 2x2.5m to produce LCD panels – larger than the panels used by existing plants.

The larger sheets and improvements to the manufacturing process will help Samsung and Sony produce larger panels more efficiently, Souk he said. The partners also expect to get high yields from the plant, making volume production of 52in LCD TVs possible at lower costs, he said.

"Samsung is concentrating on large-size panels," Souk said, noting that the company's most advanced plant currently in operation produces 40in panels in volume. The same plant – which produces one million panels for LCD TVs every month – also produces larger sizes in smaller quantities, including panels that measure 70in across the diagonal, he said.

When the factory enters production in late 2007, it will lead Samsung's efforts to make TVs that use 46in and 52in panels a standard in the market place. "We're working very hard to make this happen," Souk said.


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