Everyone knows tablets are hot, but it is surprising to see that tablets were far and away the most-mentioned topic in media coverage from CES. In a presentation called “Trends to Watch from the 2012 CES,” Shawn Dubravac of the CEA showed data from Simply Measured: with the exception of ultrabooks, tablet mentions were almost 3 times any of the other key CES trends (6,126 for tablets vs. 4,060 for ultrabooks and 2,261 for OLED). And Apple didn’t even participate in the event!
Though not quite as often mentioned in the general media, the technologies required to make tablet and ultrabook displays are also hot topics in the world of FPD manufacturing. One of the key elements is high resolution: the iPad 3 will adopt a 9.7” 2048 × 1536 LCD, and displays with more than 230 pixels per inch will become common for other high-end tablets and ultrabooks. Our recently-released TFT LCD Process Roadmap Report analyzes the key trends and technologies that enable high-performance displays for tablets and ultrabooks:
- Oxide Semiconductors: Sharp is expected to mass produce IGZO-based LCDs for the iPad 3, and Korean makers are developing their own oxide semiconductor mass production strategies.
- Advanced Resolution Lithography: Critical for increasing aperture ratio, 2.0 µm resolution large-area photo lithography tools are now available.
- Thin Glass/Glass Thinning: Thin and light are required specifications for tablets and ultrabooks and offer competitive design advantages. To reduce substrate thickness down to 0.2 mm, a combination of thin glass and glass thinning are being adopted.
- FFS Mode Liquid Crystal: Even more than its sister LC mode IPS, FFS offers superior transmission, high contrast, and resistance to touch mura,; this has helped FFS become the LC mode of choice for mobile applications.
- Super High Aperture (SHA) Pixels: One quarter of all LCDs displays now adopt pixel designs that increase the distance between bus lines and pixel electrodes in order to reduce noise and increase aperture ratio.
- Optical Alignment: Sharp is also leading the adoption of optical alignment for its iPad 3 FFS displays.
Interestingly, most of these technologies focus mainly on increasing panel transmission in order to increase battery life and reduce backlight costs.
Thanks to these manufacturing technologies, tablet displays now offer unprecedented visual experience in the thinnest and lightest of form factors. Tablet displays are now driving the cutting edge of FPD production technology. And that is part of the reason tablets are now the hottest, most-discussed CE device.