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August 1, 2023

TCL CSOT Supplying 8K LCDs to Samsung

Although supply chain analysts, market researchers and companies in the business often know who supplies which components to whom, it’s unusual to see a component maker announcing that it supplies a particular piece of somebody else’s product. So it was a surprise to see TCL CSOT of China publishing a press release to reveal that it is the supplier of the LCD panels for the Samsung QNC990 98″ TV.

The TV was launched in Korea in July and is very much a flagship product with a price of KRW 49.9 million (around $39,000). The 8K set uses a miniLED backlight with ‘hundreds’ of dimming zones.

TCL CSOT will be supplying the ‘cell’ – that is the glass sandwich of liquid crystal material, polarizers, color filter and transistor array along with the panel drivers, but Samsung’s VD division will be adding its quantum dot miniLED backlight technology and all the reception, smartTV and other processing functions that make up a TV set. TCL CSOT said that it is using its own HVA (vertical aligned – see below) technology for the cell which is said to have 8 domains to optimize viewing angle and off-axis performance. The company also said that it is putting on the special coating that reduces ambient light reflection.

If you are wondering why Samsung is not using its own LCDs, it’s because Samsung Display moved strongly to OLED for its display business because of difficult competition from Chinese panel makers who received favorable funding for LCD investments. Samsung Display no longer makes LCDs. It does make its own QD-OLED panels for TVs but these are not currently made in 8K formats or in such large sizes.

Large displays are particularly important for Samsung in its home market of Korea. Quoting data from Omdia, Sammobile reported that from January to July, 85″ and above sets sold in the country grew in volume by 1.8X and that one in three of the Samsung TVs sold in the region will be 85″ or bigger.

As display sizes get bigger, there is an increasing need for 8K sets that can give a good image without the obvious dots that can become apparent when lower resolution displays are used.

Vertical Aligned LCDs

Because liquid crystals tend to align in particular ways that can compromise the viewing performance, makers have a number of different ways of sub-dividing each R, G or B pixel to cause some molecules to line up in one way, and others to align in different ways. This reduces the difference when the panel is viewed from a particular direction as light will typically pass through different domains as it passes through the panel. Electrical fields or physical structures can be used for this alignment.

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