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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 10:01 AM CDT

Let The Sun Shine

LED backlighting, sunlight-readable displays are all the rage
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By Barry Hochfelder

Wandering the floor of last month's Society for Information Display (SID) show in Long Beach, Calif., I thought back to when I was a kid watching my family's first TV, a 10-inch Hallicrafters in glorious black and white. Who then would have dreamt of a thin 108-inch set—in COLOR!—like the one mounted in the Sharp booth?

But enough of my drooling over something that won't ever make it to my living room wall. The hot topics at SID, it seems to me, were the emergence of LEDs to replace fluorescent backlighting, and the growth of sunlight-readable displays. In many cases the two go hand-in-hand.

LEDs, for example, would lessen the power required by laptop and notebook computers, leading to longer battery life, and the power savings would provide more nits per watt. The LEDs also would provide better color and thinner displays. And they're plug and play: take out the CCFL and install the LEDs. This works from the tiniest displays all the way up to a 70-inch Sony monitor backlit by 1,152 LEDs from OSRAM Opto Semiconductors.

Some of the other companies at SID working in this arena include NEC Electronics, Apollo Display Technologies, Global Lighting Technologies and Global Display Solutions.

Who hasn't gone to an ATM or a restaurant drive-up window and been unable to read the screen? The traditional method of improving outdoor readability has been to overpower the ambient light. Today, however, a number of companies are using LEDs and other technology to solve the problem.

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