LED technology is being used to make LCD displays brighter and more energy efficient. Previously, the cost of LEDs had limited their use in flat screen displays. A user would have to pay two or three times as much for an LCD TV that uses an LED backlight instead of a traditional cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlight, for example. But prices have come down to the point where most technologies start to break into the market, when specialists or enthusiasts are willing to pay. And once LED production rises, reaching heavier volumes, prices will come down -- and continue to come down as rivals in the industry expand factories and grab for market share.
In some devices, particularly smaller ones, LED backlights are already becoming common. Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld gaming device, is one prime example, since gamers demand the best image quality possible. "The next major product will be the notebooks, notebook screens .. .maybe in the first half of next year," said C.T. Liu, vice president of AU Optronics' technology center, forecasting when LED backlights will become standard in new laptops.
LED backlights are making headway in laptops because costs are coming down and LEDs use less power, saving battery life. In laptops, power savings is far more important than plug-in devices, and screens tend to be a major battery drainer. LED backlights reduce power usage by at least 10 percent compared to older technologies, Liu said.
The trickle of LED backlights into PC monitors and laptop screens has already started in premium models. Sony, for example, uses LED backlights in some high-end Vaio PC monitors and premium laptops, such as its Type T and Type S series.