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LCDs can't keep up with demand

Japanese manufacturers reportedly are facing shortages amid strong demand for large active-matrix LCDs.

Japanese manufacturers are facing supply problems amid extremely strong demand for large active-matrix LCDs, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest economic daily.

The shortages are especially acute for 11- and 12-inch active-matrix liquid crystal display screens, according to the report.

Currently, there are two types of LCDs used by notebook manufacturers: active-matrix and dual-scan. Active-matrix LCDs offer distinctly better image quality than dual-scan LCDs and therefore have traditionally been in high demand.

As recently as early this year, Japanese manufacturers were more than meeting this demand and were actually confronting the bleak prospect of a continuing glut and plummeting prices. But there has been a dramatic reversal of fortunes since a host of top-tier notebook manufacturers began aggressively peddling notebooks with 11.3- and 12.1-inch active-matrix screens.

Now, LCD manufacturers can't seem to make enough of the large displays, and shortages are forcing some notebook PC vendors to scale back production plans. The shortages appear to have been caused by a cut in capital investment by manufacturers in response to the previous glut in the market, according to the newspaper report.

Prices for 10-inch active-matrix LCDs have hovered between $400 and $500, while prices for 11- and 12-inch panels are in the $650-to-$850 range.