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NEC, Thomson team on plasma monitors

Thomson Multimedia expects to market a high-resolution plasma model later this year for the consumer market using NEC panels.

NEC and Thomson Multimedia have committed to joint development of plasma flat-panel display technology, the companies announced today.

As a result, later this year Thomson will market a high-resolution plasma model for consumers using NEC panels, according to Thomson. The two companies will also continue to manufacture plasma display products under their own brand names.

Generally, flat-panel monitors weigh less, take up much less space, and consume less power than bulky cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors, currently ubiquitous on desktops. Typically, flat-panel displays are a fraction of the thickness of CRTs.

A distinct advantage for plasma flat-panel displays is that extra-large 20- to 40-inch class plasma displays lack the heaviness and bulkiness that have always plagued CRTs. Also, a lot of the cost of a CRT is tied to bulk, since the extra-large components which go into big CRT monitors drive up raw equipment costs.

The agreement between two major players in the display market is expected to improve on the weight, size, and picture clarity advantages of plasma displays, while also driving prices down.

Thus far, plasma's biggest stumbling price has been its hefty price tag. NEC and Thomson's commitment to developing the display technology may help push plasma prices down, analysts say.