HT Trends

Convergence is upon us. Technology long associated with information processing is increasingly a part of many people's home entertainment experience.

The popularity of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) is surging, with year-over-year shipments of LCD TVs (panels with integrated tuners) up 162%, according to an October 29 report from DisplaySearch, a worldwide leader in flat panel display (FPD) market research. This year's total reached 831,000 units by the date of the report. The organization predicts rapid growth for the technology, with a projection of a 45% increase in sales in the fourth quarter of 2003, for a total of 1.2 million units.

Sizes: The 15€�-diagonal XGA overtook the 20€� VGA to become the single most popular product. While 15€� XGA was most popular in North America, Europe and ROW, 20€� VGA was the most popular format in Japan, the report notes. VGA is also the most popular level of video resolution, with a 37% lead over other formats. Wide aspect-ration formats now have 29% of market share and are expected to overtake 4:3 aspect ratio products by the middle of 2004. Half of the LCD TVs shipped in 2003 included RGB or VGA inputs, with 13% featuring DVI inputs.

Sharp Corporation is the dominant supplier of such products, with a 31% share. The company is #1 in Japan and North America, but #3 in Europe and the rest of the world. Samsung is #2 in LCD TV shipments with a 13.3% global share Sony is #3 worldwide with 12% of the market–which includes the number two market position in Japan and third in the US. Analysts agree that Sharp will continue as market leader in 2004.

The 200 page Quarterly LCD TV Shipment and Forecast Report is available in print or electronically from DisplaySearch for $3495–3995.

PC-based home entertainment is also on the rise, especially where television programming is concerned. A related study released by Jupiter Research on September 30 reveals that "34% of online users want to record TV on their PC to watch on the PC's monitor, but that number increases to 51% if they can watch the content on their TV." The report goes on to state that "consumers are presenting PC hardware and networking OEMs with the opportunity to broaden their entertainment reach into passive video entertainment—DVD, television and personal video recorder. Going forward, consumers will be purchasing multiple PCs for the home and the entertainment share of use will increase, with some PCs dedicated solely to entertainment purposes.

It all adds up to opportunity for manufacturers swift enough to catch the wave. "While in most cases the PC and the television are not actually converging into a single box, there is ample evidence that consumers see their PCs as the entertainment hub of the home—for gaming, music, and, increasingly, even DVDs and TV," said Jupiter Research senior analyst Avi Greengart.