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Tue, Jul 08, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Nintendo presses panel makers over hand-held screens

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Nintendo Co, Japan's second-largest maker of video-game consoles, is asking its liquid-crystal display makers to come up with a better small-sized flat-panel display for the next version of its Game Boy hand-held video-game console.

"Screen quality is everything," Nintendo engineer Tsuyoshi Kiyuna told a group of executives from display panel and component makers at a seminar in Tokyo last week.

"I want you to make a better screen to solve some of the problems we have now," he said.

Display quality is crucial to the success of a hand-held game player, a point Nintendo learned first hand when some users balked at the dark screen the company used in the first version of its Game Boy Advance player.

The Kyoto-based company addressed the complaints by revamping the player as the Game Boy Advance SP with a new, brighter screen lit from the sides.

Screen quality continues to plague Nintendo. One issue yet to be solved in the Game Boy Advance SP, which was released in February, is the presentation of colors. Dust trapped within the screen and accentuated by lighting has also dogged Nintendo.

Even with the better screen, colors still appear with a whitish tinge while black also doesn't display well, Kiyuna said.

Nintendo, which controls about 90 percent of the hand-held game market, hasn't said when it will release a follow-up model to the Game Boy Advance SP.

Besides a screen able to display colors more vibrantly, the company, which also makes the GameCube video-game console, also wants a screen free of dust.

Nintendo is asking panel makers to change the manufacturing process to reduce debris captured within the layers of a display, requesting that newer displays be made in dust-free clean rooms like those in which semiconductors are manufactured.

"The majority of complaints from [Game Boy Advance] SP users is about dust," Kiyuna said. "We want a dust-free screen and users of our next-generation hand-held game machine won't be happy unless we solve these problems."

Nintendo has yet to selected the supplier of LCD panels for its next hand-held console.

The company will decide after studying mockups and business proposals from screen makers.

Sharp Corp, Japan's largest maker of liquid-crystal displays, is the sole supplier of LCD panels for Game Boy Advance as well as the Game Boy Advance SP.

One other requirement for the new screen will be that it must consume less or equal power compared with the version used in the Game Boy Advance SP, Kiyuna said.

A Game Boy Advance SP panel consumes about 71 milliwatts of power, he said.

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