In-cell technology, which The Rollup covered in March 2012, can eliminate some of the layers in the display. The benefits include clear, crisp images, greater resistance to vibration and impact, reduced components, reduced thickness and weight, more efficient light utilization, and resulting lower power consumption.
Indium tin oxide is costly because it depends on the rare element indium. ITO is used to make transparent conductive coatings for touch screens and other displays. DITO means the coating can be layered on both sides of single substrate, again reducing the number of layers in the display. The iPad mini is the first Apple product to use DITO with a film instead of glass, helping to keep the overall display thin.
Apple holds patents related to DITO as well as at least one for a "method for fabricating thin DITO or SITO [the 'S' is for 'single'] touch sensor panels with a thickness less than a minimum thickness tolerance of existing manufacturing equipment."
There's been speculation for a while that Apple will replace the iPad's glass-on-glass (GG) structure with one or another alternative, partly to make it thinner, partly to improve manufacturing yields for this components. NPD DisplaySearch's Calvin Hsieh noted in a January assessment -- "Is Apple Changing its Mind on Touch Panel Structures?" -- the widespread belief that both in-cell and glass film dual ITO (sometimes rendered as GF2, according to one analyst) have relatively lower yields and therefore higher costs for now (though Apple evidently thinks those drawbacks are outweighed by consumer preference for thinner and lighter tablets).
Hsieh actually doesn't answer the question he poses. Rather he lays out the complex issues -- including adequate manufacturing volumes and intellectual property sharing -- that Apple faces in switching to two alternatives. One is a proprietary touch-on-display technology from Innolux, "a type of on-cell touch structure in which the sensor is located on the upper glass (the color filter substrate), beneath the top polarizer." The other is one-glass-solution (OGS) technology, which integrates the touch ITO sensor circuits into the cover glass. Taiwan's giant LCD maker, TPK, holds extensive patents in this area, according to Hsieh.
Hsieh references Asian news reports that both Innolux and TPK recently have delivered samples of their respective products to Apple. But that timeline, if true, might make it difficult for Apple to introduce either technology in a 2013 iPad 5.
iPad 5 suffering from low yields of stereo speaker rumors
"One of the things that has bugged me about Apple's flagship tablet since the first iPad arrived in 2010 has been the device's lack of stereo speakers" grouses Bryan M. Wolfe, in a post at AppAdvice, headlined "The One iPad 5 Rumor We Haven't Heard Much About But Really Should."
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