Liquid-crystal-display televisions (LCD TVs) are television sets that use liquid-crystal displays to produce images. They are, by far, the most widely produced and sold television display type. LCD TVs are thin and light, but have some disadvantages compared to other display types such as high power consumption, poorer contrast ratio, and inferior color gamut.
LCD TVs rose in popularity in the early years of the 21st century, surpassing sales of cathode ray tube televisions worldwide in 2007. Sales of CRT TVs dropped rapidly after that, as did sales of competing technologies such as plasma display panels and rear-projection television.
In 2006, although plasma's picture quality continued to hold a questionable edge over LCDs, and even a price advantage for sets at the critical 42" size and larger, LCD prices started to fall rapidly, while their screen sizes were increasing at a similarly increased pace. By late 2006, several vendors were offering 42" LCDs, albeit at a premium price, encroaching upon plasma's only stronghold. More decisively, LCDs offer higher resolutions and true 1080p support, while plasmas were stuck at 720p, which made up for the price difference.
Predictions that prices for LCDs would rapidly drop through 2007 led to a "wait and see" attitude in the market, and sales of all large-screen televisions stagnated while customers watched to see if this would happen. Plasmas and LCDs reached price parity in 2007, with the LCD's higher resolution being a 'winning point' for many sales. By late 2007, it was clear plasmas would lose out to LCDs during the critical Christmas sales season. This was in spite of plasmas continuing to hold an image quality advantage, but as the president of Chunghwa Picture Tubes noted after shutting down their plasma production line, "(g)lobally, so many companies, so many investments, so many people have been working in this area, on this product. So they can improve so quickly."
When the sales figures for the 2007 Christmas season were finally tallied, analysts were surprised to find that not only had LCD outsold plasma, but CRTs as well, during the same period. This development drove competing large-screen systems from the market almost overnight. Plasma had overtaken rear-projection systems in 2005. The same was true for CRTs, which lasted only a few months longer; Sony ended sales of their famous Trinitron in most markets in 2007, and shut down the final plant in March 2008. The February 2009 announcement that Pioneer Electronics was ending production of the plasma screens was widely considered the tipping point in that technology's history as well.
LCD's dominance in the television market accelerated rapidly. It was the only technology that could scale both up and down in size, covering both the high-end market for large screens in the 40 to 50" class, as well as customers looking to replace their existing smaller CRT sets in the 14 to 30" range. Building across these wide scales quickly pushed the prices down across the board.
In 2008, LCD TV shipments were up 33 percent year-on-year compared to 2007 to 105 million units. In 2009, LCD TV shipments raised to 146 million units (69% from the total of 211 million TV shipments). In 2010, LCD TV shipments reached 187.9 million units (from an estimated total of 247 million TV shipments).
In spite of LCD's current[further explanation needed] dominance of the television field, there are several other technologies being developed that address its shortcomings. Whereas LCDs produce an image by selectively blocking a backlight, OLED, FED and SED all produce light directly on the front face of the display. In comparison to LCDs, all of these technologies offer better viewing angles, much higher brightness and contrast ratio (as much as 5,000,000:1), and better color saturation and accuracy, and use less power. Also, in theory they are less complex and less expensive to build.
However, manufacturing these screens has proved more difficult than originally thought. Sony abandoned their FED project in March 2009, but continue work on their OLED sets. Canon continues development of their SED technology, but announced they will not attempt to introduce sets to market for the foreseeable future.
Samsung has been displaying OLED sets at 14.1, 31 and 40 inch sizes for some time, and at the SID 2009 trade show in San Antonio they announced that the 14.1 and 31 inch sets are "production ready".