What to Consider when looking for a Replacement for an Obsolete TFT
Product managers should see planned obsolescence coming long before it arrives. The first hint from suppliers is your sign to start your own plan. Don’t waste time if end-of-life has been announced for the TFT in your product. You have options, and the good news is the best course of action doesn’t have to be stressful.
Manufacturers don’t discontinue parts for no reason -especially if they have customers for them. They give ample warning of the change. Often as not, they replace the discontinued TFT with a replacement model that’s functionally (or nearly) identical to the outgoing model. It may have newer materials to replace problematic ones. It may feature new components that outperform their predecessors. Regardless, if there is a replacement model, it should be an improvement, which may present you with a marketing opportunity. Your TFT supplier can get that information for you so you can determine if there’s an opportunity there. Often these model changes don’t even incur a cost increase from the supplier.
It is possible that there will be no replacement model for your obsolete TFT. Resistive touchscreens have been losing market share, and that trend is only going to continue. Some situations genuinely need resistive screens. If your product is in that camp, you may have no choice but to go with a custom TFT. There is also a trend toward IPS TFTs. This technology offers a higher contrast and wide viewing angles which is superior to TN types of TFTs.
You can spend days hunting for a replacement TFT online. The explosion of the Internet of Things is resulting in new TFT offerings all the time. If you do decide to search for your own replacement TFT, start with the viewable area and resolution on your current TFT. The viewable area is the most critical single feature. Any changes to that would not only require retooling the face of your product, which requires finishing at the highest tolerances and is already costly, but any changes to the size and viewing area of the TFT can also require tooling of a new TFT glass panel, which is not feasible in most cases due to the six figure tooling charges and minimum order quantities. Finding a match for the viewing area and resolution is half the battle. If you find a match for these two features, there are only about a half dozen other criteria to check if you’re so inclined. If the following features do not have matches though, it is most likely that the display can be tooled to match the other features exactly for a modest tooling charge.
We realize that trying to navigate all of this criteria yourself isn’t the best use of your time. As a product manager, you are an expert in your products, not an expert in the TFT industry. TFT sales are growing at an annual rate of 13%. There are new materials, technologies, and features coming onto the market every day. That’s why you depend on your supplier. Our engineers are the experts. We know the performance possibilities. Having a relationship with a TFT supplier like Focus LCDs will save you time and money, and you’ll come away with the best possible product.
If the way forward requires some customization, you may be surprised at how reasonable this can be for some changes as they are sometimes just pennies more than a standard model. If you can provide our engineers with the model number and specification of your current TFT, we can use those specifications to provide the best possible replacement for you. Our goal is to supply a product for the life of the project and present you with a long-term solution.
The whole point of this discussion has been replacing your obsolete TFT with as little disruption as possible. Still, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that if you are looking at having a custom TFT designed, that might make it the perfect opportunity to look at other changes you might want to make to your product. Perhaps it’s time for a new model after all. Either way, Focus LCDs is here to help with your TFT needs.
Our engineers work with TFTs every day. They know the latest trends, materials, and performance developments. Their expertise can save your company money while allowing you to provide an improved product instead of a product with a TFT that’s obsolete.