Futuresource’s ISE Wrap-Up: Price Erosion Continuing In LED; LCD Use Range Narrowing

March 15, 2023 by Dave Haynes

The UK-based research and consulting firm Futuresource sent a pile of people – 22 market analysts – to Integrated Systems Europe in Barcelona, to walk the halls, talk to vendors and sit in on presentations.

That investment and effort builds up knowledge and helps shape future reports, but the company very helpfully puts out a free, downloadable report that goes into considerable detail about what was observed at the show and the trends that are emerging.

It’s not a little blog post or Linkedin note. It’s 52 pages, albeit a healthy chunk of that is addressing things like audio, collaboration tech and media servers – other pro AV areas covered by Futuresource. But the front-end of the PDF is all about pro displays.

I downloaded the report many days ago, but finally had some time this morning to read through it.

Here are some digital signage-specific observations on LED, flat panels and projection:

LED Technology Transition in Full Effect

To deliver tighter pixel pitches, many brands are now implementing multi-package IMD, like a 4-in-1, which have now become stable in mass production.

Many brands demonstrated MiniLED in the form of Flip Chip on Board (CoB), but few are actually in production. Futuresource expects that the technology and manufacturing hurdles will be overcome this year such that several brands will reach mass production by late 2023. Others are developing innovative repair techniques that will improve serviceability rather than replace the entire module board if a pixel is non-functional.

Because FlipChip CoB does require packaging and can be mass transferred rather than individually picked and placed (nearly 8.3 Million operations on a 4K UHD video wall). As production volumes of MiniLED ramp up significantly in 2024, we expect to see an increased pace of price erosion.

The technology transition created a feverish pitch of engagements at ISE between brands and technology suppliers AUO, BOE and Seoul Semi, amongst others, busily discussing advancements and aligning product roadmaps towards partnership arrangements.

While all-in-one LED (AIO) screens have been shown at ISE for several years, 2023 brings needed innovations beyond easy purchase and deployment to make them more marketable. Several are now integrating speakers into the AIO, but none in corporate cameras and microphones with optional interactivity, like their LCD counterparts. Viewsonic’s new AIO ranges from 108″ to 216″ and can be folded inward together and protected by a travel case to enable transportation between rooms, buildings or venues.

Wide aspect ratio displays, facilitating meeting inclusion as promoted by Microsoft, are becoming more predominate in LED. Many brands are launching 21:9 aspect ratio ranges, but typically only one pitch scales exactly to 21:9, while other pixel pitches are “close“ leaving some black space.Others are showcasing the wider 32:9 format and promoting the usability of the broader canvas.

Flat Panels – LCD Remains Value King

While the innovation race in LED remains an exciting watch, the race for Flat Panel LCD Displays is a different beast entirely. Innovation is more difficult to find, even at a show the size of ISE, as FPD moves steadily towards the trend of ‘larger screen sizes at lower prices’ model.

We are starting to see LCD push more firmly into the spaces that LED will struggle to compete with in the near-future, unsurprisingly. Any display that will be viewed at close range (sub 3 meters), such as wayfinding displays, high-brightness outdoor panels and in-window retail focused models were the main target of the newer products at ISE this year. With the focus of the show being pushed as immersion-first, collaboration and software was a key factor too, as manufacturers and solution creations seek more streamlined ways for users to interact with their products.

As the current and future use for LCD Displays becomes narrower in the face of competition from new technology, the market is starting to see more evidence of targeted products aimed to be more specific to those most appropriate verticals –such as retail, control room, transport and corporate to name the key ones.

Projection Carving Out New Niches

While not the star of the show, projection manufacturers have been eager to show the technology’s unique selling propositions. There is a sense of changing opinions on projection’s place in the market, where it has been seen as a mature technology.

In core markets such as education and corporate, companies are keen to showcase where the technology retains its strength and opens new opportunities by leveraging its price advantage, vast screen size capabilities and unique ability to produce immersive experiences with 3D mapping, blending and warping.

Many brands are recognizing the strength in their product portfolio is choice. Having an LCD, Interactive, Projection and increasingly LED product line to offer solutions for any end-user’s display need is crucial to retaining their core customer bases and making the most of new opportunities in the market. Key to this is appreciating where technologies are individually-suited and where they can interact in conjunction.

As noted up top, the report is a free download, but you do have to register and submit your email. It’s a fair trade, I think.

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