PCR checks out the latest developments in the display sector

Monitoring progress

Back in the days of chunky PC monitors that took up half the desk, it was hard to imagine that we would soon be using flat screen displays less than an inch thick. But here we are, with each vendor bringing out new models that are slimmer and slicker than the last.

Naturally, with portable PC ownership becoming more and more widespread, in some respects the market for monitors has shrunk, but a turnaround could be on the horizon. Mark Lynch, product manager for displays at VIP, says demand is smaller than five to ten years ago, but believes this may not be the case for long.

“I predict that will change in the consumer market in the next couple of years. We are seeing a big trend in the movement to video content from YouTube to iPlayer, and people don’t want to watch on small screens so monitors are ideal for that,” he claims.

Midwich’s business manager, Lee Baker, adds: “The market for laptops and netbooks will continue to grow, but I do not think it will kill off the display market – most of the displays we sell are for specific applications where a laptop would just not do the job. They are great for surfing the web. but small and basic in terms of resolution and connectivity.”

In some respects, the growing number of notebook owners is an additional customer base for displays. “Many people connect their laptops to a second monitor for increased productivity,” points out Chris Parker, the marketing manager at Spire. In this sense, displays can be notebook addons like keyboards and other peripherals, designed to make using portable devices at home more like using a desktop PC.

Kelly Coxon, the purchasing manager at Target, offers: “I believe there will still be a demand for monitors, particularly in the business sector. Employees will continue to have a work station, but as I have seen with friends and colleagues, they will be issued with additional laptops or netbooks.”

Gamers are another key market for the display sector, as they are notoriously big spenders on hardware. “Gamers require larger size monitors with quicker response rates and great contrast ratios,” says Lynch, adding that the natural technological progression for the monitor market – particularly in the gaming world – is towards 3D. The technology was all the rage at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with all the major vendors showcasing 3D-enabled HDTVs and Blue-ray players. LG also announced its W2363D monitor, which can display 3D images from games and movies.

“The gaming market is leading the demand for 3D screens,” says Cheryl Wheeler, the AV and display product manager at Micro-P.

Grant Keenan, Computer 2000’s business manager for monitors and home entertainment, adds that the technology will not just be revolutionary for gamers: “3D will have a big impact on the gaming, entertainment and digital signage markets. It will be a big opportunity, as the first arrivals will carry a high premium and gadget addicts will simply have to have them as soon as they can.”

Another key trend for the year ahead is touch capability. With the eagerly anticipated launch of Windows 7 last autumn came a renewed demand for compatible touch-enabled machines – be that notebooks, tablets or all-in-ones.

“Touchscreen is certainly a technology to watch in 2010. With built-in support from Windows 7 and large numbers of users now familiar with this input style, the move to incorporate this in mainstream monitors is a natural progression,” explains Cliff Cheetham, business development manager at CCI.

Wheeler describes the touchscreen revolution as ‘the iTouch effect.’ Since the launch of the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, the technology has undoubtedly infiltrated the majority of consumer electronics sectors. Keenan, however, remains sceptical. He says:

“Touch is a major trend, but how much of an impact it has depends on how quickly users take to it, and that may depend on how much apps and games make use of multi-touch capabilities. It will probably grow steadily and become a pretty standard feature in time – for now though, it’s something different to sell and a decent opportunity.”

In line with the general trend towards eco-friendliness, LED is tipped to be the next big thing in the display sector. Martin Kent, HANNspree UK’s territory manager for the UK and Northern Europe, says: “Environmentally friendly displays are a clear market trend, with low power consumption and less hazardous, recyclable materials. LED technology helps to reduce the overall thickness of a monitor – translating into better looking, slimmer designs.”

According to some distributors, LED displays’ high price point prevented them from being serious competition for LCDs. But, generally, are there margins to be earned in monitors? Cliff Cheetham, business development manager at CCI Distribution, thinks not: “Unless you’re providing a value-add with the unit, the margin is minimal. Monitors take up room, are expensive to move around and provide a fairly low margin to square metre equation for all.”

Kent believes there are both positives and negatives to decreasing prices. “This is an issue that not only affects the display industry, but the IT and CE sector too. On the other hand, lowering prices has made hardware more affordable for the consumer and what was deemed a hardcore IT product is now a mass consumer commodity.”

Midwich’s Lee Baker claims it’s not all doom on the margin front: “The size split of the display market shows growth in the share of larger margin-rich formats, while there’s been a cut in the smaller sizes.”

HannsG HP222DGB
Distributor: Misco
SRP: £139

This 22-inch display is part of HannsG’s recently launched ‘hard glass’ range, designed to withstand more wear and tear. It features a tough acrylic screen surface to shield the underlying sensitive panel, a five-millisecond response time and a 1680 x 1050 resolution

Samsung Lapfit LD190G
Distributor: Micro-P
SRP: £148.05

Samsung’s LD displays all feature high-gloss black finishes and work as secondary displays for laptops. The 18.5-inch LD190G has a five-millisecond response time and a 1360 x 768 resolution. Also available in a 21.5-inch version – the LD220

Acer T230H
Distributor: Micro-P
SRP: £306.00

The T230H is Acer’s first touchactivated display, sporting a 23- inch widescreen and adjustable height options. The monitor has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and can take VGA, DVI and HDMI input

AG Neovo E19
Distributor: Midwich
SRP: £243

The E19 sports a 19-inch screen and AG Neovo’s hard glass ‘NeoV’ technology. This TFT monitor also features built-in speakers, a headphone jack and DVI input for added connectivity

Iiyama ProLite T1730SR-2
Distributor: Computer 2000
SRP: £349

This 17-inch display takes both analog and digital inputs, with touchscreen connectivity via USB or RS-232. The adjustable stand can tilt to 90 degrees

LG W2261VP 22-Inch LCD Monitor
Distributor: CCI Distribution
SRP: £168

The W2261VP has full HD capability with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. According to the vendor it has a two-millisecond response time that removes virtually all traces of ghosting, blurring or tearing. Input is via D-sub, DVI-D or HDMI

Xerox XM3
Distributor: Spire Technology
SRP: £128

This 22-inch widescreen TFT features multiple signal input, allowing simultaneous connection of a PC and another source such as a DVD, games console or a second PC. It has integrated speakers and a five-millisecond response time

LG W2286L 22-Inch LCD Monitor
Distributor: CCI Distribution
SRP: £299.99

This compact display has apparently the world’s slimmest design, with a 20mm depth. Also featuring a glossy black surface and unusual stand, it has two HDMI inputs, and is, according to the vendor, 50 per cent energy saving

Asus VW246H
Distributor: VIP Computers
SRP: £234.99

This HD 24-inch display features a 1920 x 1080 resolution and HDMI input. Asus Smart Contrast Ratio Technology automatically adjusts the luminance of the backlight for better displays

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