Environment-friendly and energy-saving features, and cost-down solutions to spur plasma TV exports.
China suppliers of plasma TVs are looking to 3D technology to spur sales in a line beset by declining exports. To stimulate demand and boost margins, makers are enhancing aesthetics, integrating environment-friendly and energy-saving features, and adopting cost-down solutions.
Shipments of plasma TVs dipped by 20 percent YoY to 480,000 million units in 2010. Revenues declined by 35 percent at $252.7 million, according to China customs data.
With 3D adoption, companies are confident the line will gain an advantage over LCD TVs. First, it will make plasma TVs more competitive pricewise, particularly in the 50in and larger segment. The type also boasts wider viewing angles.
Plasma TVs can display 3D content much better than LCD counterparts. While the latter can have a refresh rate of 60 or 120Hz, the first can reach 600Hz depending on the model’s magnetic field scanning frequency and the subfield technology adopted.
Guangdong Changhong Electronics Co. Ltd has released 3D-ready plasma TVs in 50, 58 and 63in versions using its own 2.5G PDP. Exported to Australia, Europe and Indonesia, the supplier’s 938 series comes with 58 and 63in screens, and uses active shutter glasses and 2D to 3D converter.
Despite the positive outlook on 3D plasma TVs, manufacturers are battling a thinning maker pool and tight competition from LCD rivals. A good number of enterprises left the line last year, some to focus on the latter.
Most China businesses source PDPs from Samsung, LG Display or Panasonic. With the first changing its panel specifications, local TV suppliers found no use for their old molds. But as exports are on the downturn and demand for plasma TVs low, many decided that producing new molds to fit Samsung’s requirements may not be cost-effective.
Enterprises such as Shenzhen Scope Scientific Development Co. Ltd, however, are willing to invest in new molds and continue turning out plasma TVs. The supplier also adopts PDPs from LG Display.
It churns out high-end variants with screen sizes of 42, 50, 63 and 71in. Those smaller than 63 and 71in employ customized molds. The housings can be of aluminum alloy, stainless steel or wood depending on buyers’ preferences.
Another reason cited for the shift to LCD TV production is the price difference. In 2010, rates for 42in LCD panels decreased by 25 percent as opposed to just 10 percent for 42in plasma displays. Suppliers of the latter, however, believe they still have a captive market and will gain an advantage once LED-backlit models hit the mainstream.
At present, the difference between CCFL LCD and plasma TVs smaller than 42in is $20 to $30, but the gap is forecast to reach $100 once the first shifts to LED variants. For 50in and larger sizes, the latter will continue to have an advantage. Shenzhen Scope, for instance, produces only 42in and bigger sets, exporting these to Japan, Australia and the Middle East, where demand for large TVs is strong.
Some manufacturers have begun producing their own PDPs to lessen dependence on Samsung. Having homegrown facilities also enable enterprises to have better control over the entire supply chain.
Guangdong Changhong, for instance, churns out plasma TVs with panels from its own COC PDP line. It has released its in-house Oboni brand, which is distributed through subsidiaries in Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Indonesia.
The maker also conducts R&D on full drivers and control software. The company is optimistic such measures will lower prices by 30 percent.
Located in western China, Guangdong Changhong’s COC PDP line is the country’s first plasma panel facility. The project started in 2007 and conducted mass trial a year later.
With investment worth $200 million, the supplier is embarking on an expansion plan in June. Purchasing about 180 machines, the business hopes to add 840,000 sets of PDP modules, which will result in 3 million PDP sets a year.
Anhui Xinhao likewise opened its PDP line last March. The facility was acquired by the manufacturer from Hitachi in 2009. It produces 42, 50, 60 and 85in panels.
For PDPs smaller than 42in, the enterprise plans to churn out 1.5 million units in the coming months.
Despite expanding PDP yield and the subsequent reduced costs, makers are bracing themselves for competition from LCD TVs.
The China government has recently approved five lines of advanced-generation panels for the latter. With this, plasma TV suppliers are in for an even bigger challenge.
Plasma TVs from China are usually 42in and larger. Mainstream sets have 42 and 50in displays. HD-ready models support 16:9 aspect ratio and 1366x768-pixel resolution. Full-HD counterparts have 1920x1080 pixels.
Guangdong Changhong will soon release its ultra-HD plasma panel, which can provide a resolution of up to 2640x1560 pixels.
Most units deliver a contrast ratio above 100,000:1, greater than 170-degree viewing angle, close to zero response time and more than 1,000cd/sqm brightness.
Besides the common A/V I/O ports, multiple interfaces for VGA, SCART and HDMI can be supported. Variants have at least two HDMI and a USB ports.
The screen size and chip used are key price determinants and quality differentiators in the line. China manufacturers choose the latest cost-down solutions to increase their profit margin.
IC solutions are currently sourced from MStar, MediaTek and Trident.
Guangdong Changhong Electronics Co. Ltd
Guangdong Changhong Electronics Co. Ltd
Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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