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LCDs: Bigger, Brighter, and Priced to Move

Samsung's seventh-generation mother glass can be used to produce eight 40-inch displays.
Samsung's seventh-generation mother glass can be used to produce eight 40-inch displays.
By year's end, wide screens will be on 10 to 12 percent of desktops, with up to 20 percent share by the end of 2007, according to Chris Connery, vice president of market research for analysis firm DisplaySearch.

The other big trend: bigger, brighter, and cheaper LCDs. Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor research at iSuppli, says that 78 percent of monitors were 17 inches or smaller in 2005, but she projects that by 2010 less than 20 percent of monitors will be that small. Resolution will improve as screens grow: Though only 4 percent of today's monitors feature resolution higher than SXGA (1280 by 1024), Alexander says that figure will grow to 23 percent by 2010.

Screens 25 inches and larger should also become common, says Connery. In addition, thanks to LED backlights (which are hitting the market now only in superpremium displays), buyers who are willing to pay a little extra will have a brighter monitor that displays colors more accurately.

What about emerging technologies like organic LED (OLED) and liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS)? Both will find homes in certain niches--OLED on tiny displays like those of MP3 players and cameras, and LCoS on projector TVs--but neither is likely to make a dent on the desktop. Expect LCD products to rule for at least the next five years because of their availability and affordability.

Flexible displays that can be bent or rolled, as well as electronic-ink products (see our hands-on look at Sony's Reader), will also find a piece of the market, starting in areas like grocery-store shelf price tags that can be instantly and easily updated.

Touch screens will also likely become more popular for niche uses. NYU researcher Jeff Han demonstrated an impressive advancement of the technology earlier this year, in the form of a multi-touch-screen, partially gesture-based interface.

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