New Big-Screen Display Technologies
iFire's TDEL technology involves a low-cost and high-yield manufacturing process.
By Cliff Roth
The writing on the wall suggests TVs will be on the wall, in more homes than ever. Everybody wants these new flat screens, but even with prices dropping to the $3,000 ballpark for entry-level models, they're still a bit steep for most homes. The challenge now is the ability to produce flat screens cheaply — something most major manufacturers, and even some scrappy start-ups, are frantically working on achieving.
Long Live Plasma?
Plasma screens were at the cutting edge of big-screen display technology when the concept of the hang-on-the-wall TV first became reality about a decade ago (and especially after Philips started advertising it on TV). But unlike some consumer electronics products — like VCR, CD, DVD, and DBS — which saw prices drop to just a fraction of the introductory prices after mass production took off, plasma display panels (PDPs) have remained stubbornly expensive, with most models from major manufacturers still costing between $5,000 and $20,000. So the race is on to come up with alternative big-screen flat-panel technologies that cost less, such as the innovative SCRAMscreen rear projection TV, and the TDEL panel.
Among non-CRT big-screen technologies, plasma displays are perhaps the most similar to traditional CRTs, because the screen is coated with phosphors that light up red, green, or blue when exposed to electricity. The difference is that CRTs use an "electron gun" to create the electrical charge, whereas plasma screens use electrically charged plasma located immediately behind the phosphor-coated screen. One drawback of plasma technology that has always made manufacturers and retailers a bit nervous is the potential for image burn-in. Another issue that nobody's heard the last of is the life of the plasma screen — generally estimated at eight to ten years, after which the picture fades. Despite these problems, plasma technology remains the one to beat, at least in terms of market demand.