The Ultimate Digital Photography Review

Francis Vale


DVD playback on the 173P was truly in your face, and was aided by deep rich blacks that, although not on par with a CRT, were still pretty damn good. Just remember to put the 173P in Entertainment mode to bring out the maximum amount of detail.

This stellar DVD performance is just the tip of Samsung's home entertainment iceberg.

According to several of Samsung's press releases, it has long been understood that LCD technologies would have to improve their response time, viewing angle and contrast ratio to challenge the markets held by traditional display technologies, such as CRTs. All LCD technologies operate by the same principle where the passage of light through the liquid crystal is controlled by the application of an electric field. In both TN and STN LCD's the molecules have to turn horizontally to the electrodes through a large angle to produce a high-contrast display. This movement makes such displays inherently slow, limiting their usability, particularly in video applications.

Samsung says its unique solution to this challenge is their patented Patterned Vertical Alignment (PVA) TFT-LCD technology. In this technology, the molecules are originally aligned at 90 degrees vertically to the electrodes. The passage of an electric field deflects the liquid crystal molecules off vertical, producing the required image. The deflection required for this is much less than that required for traditional LCDs. Samsung says this results in a display with a faster response time that allows it to run at video-framing rates and, concurrently, provides a wider viewing angle and a higher contrast ratio.

The utilization of PVA technology facilitates the mass production of high-resolution TFT-LCDs in sizes from 30 to 40 inches. Until now, larger-size TFT-LCDs have been technologically difficult to produce. In January 2004, Samsung expanded its TV display technology for the home with the unveiling of its new 57" TFT-LCD for High Definition (HD) TV. The 57" prototype represents the largest possible size for a fifth-generation glass substrate. Offering full HDTV functionality, the 57" model features Samsung's improved PVA and advanced polarizer technologies to achieve a 1000:1 contrast ratio, a significant advance over the common 400:1 and even the 800:1 ratio of Samsung's preceding 54" TFT-LCD panel.

"Now the CRT industry really has something to worry about," said Dr. Wing Li, chief display scientist, at Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. "Samsung's PVA technology surpasses all other flat panel technologies, and even challenges CRT's themselves, by offering faster response time, higher contrast, and higher resolution. It opens up exciting new market opportunities that have historically been out-of-reach for TFT-LCD displays."

If I were Sony, I would be looking over my shoulder in the direction of South Korea and be more than just a little concerned. Samsung is clearly on the new technology move and obviously has innovative product plans that extend from your desktop to your home theater if the excellent 173P SyncMaster is any indication. So stay tuned. It should be a hell of a great fight.

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