LG enters thin-TV race with Scarlet sets

LG Electronics has officially thrown its hat into the thin TV ring with the launch this week of its Scarlet TV set.

LG Electronics has officially thrown its hat into the thin TV ring with the launch this week of its Scarlet TV set. The TV, which was first unveiled at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January in Las Vegas, is LG's thinnest flat-panel TV yet.

LG said the Scarlet is just 45 millimeters thick, which isn't thin enough to beat Sharp's X-series LCD TVs that recently went on sale in Japan. The Sharp TVs are 34 millimeters at their thinnest point, and swell slightly to 38 millimeters at the thickest point.

Thinness is likely to be a key battle ground in the flat-panel TV market this year. After several years of competition on screen size, sets are at the point where larger screens don't make much sense anymore, so companies are focusing on slimming down the supposedly "flat" TVs. In addition to the TVs from LG and Sharp prototypes have also been shown at trade shows by JVC, Panasonic and Hitachi.

The Scarlet sets will be sold in the U.S. under the LG60 brand name and in Europe under the LG6000 name. A 47-inch model in the range is already on sale in the U.K. and boasts a full high-definition (1,920 pixel by 1,080 pixel) screen and 100Hz fast scanning to provide a smoother image when showing fast motion. Other sets will go on sale soon in markets around the world.

So far LG has attracted more attention for its advertising campaign than for the TV sets themselves. A cleverly done teaser commercial duped people into believing Scarlet was a new TV series by David Nutter, a director/producer best known for his work on pilot episodes of TV shows such as "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." The teasers hinted that "Scarlet, the hit new TV series" was a Nutter project featuring actress Natassia Malthe.

A Hollywood premiere for Scarlet built the buzz, but those at the event soon discovered that Scarlet was a series of TVs, not a TV series in the traditional sense. The bold public relations gamble gained Scarlet widespread publicity, including mentions in newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, where it might have otherwise had a hard time getting space.

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Martyn Williams

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