Sharp to push full HD on large-size LCD TVs

Sharp plans to increase the number of models in its LCD television range offering full high-definition resolution, it said Thursday.

Sharp plans to increase the number of models in its LCD (liquid crystal display) television range offering full high-definition resolution, it said Thursday. In doing so the company hopes to become more competitive in one of the fastest growing parts of the LCD TV market.

High-definition televisions can generally be divided into two types: those with a resolution of 1,366 pixels by 768 pixels and those with a resolution of 1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels. The latter matches the signal sent out by most high-definition broadcasters and is called full high-definition and the former, while still regarded as HD, is a reduced definition version. The difference between the two is generally difficult to notice on smaller TV sets but becomes more noticeable on larger sets, said Sharp.

The company, which is one of the world's biggest makers of LCD televisions, announced four models for the Japan market on Thursday that have full HD panels and said it plans to have them in all models of 37-inch screen-size and above by the end of 2006.

This part of the market is seeing high demand, said Takashi Okuda, corporate director of Sharp Corp.'s audio-visual systems group, at a Tokyo news conference on Thursday. In the last three months of 2005 sales of LCD TVs with a screen size of less than 37 inches doubled compared to the same period a year earlier, while those of 37 inches and above tripled, he said.

Sharp estimates the Japanese domestic market for 37 inch and above LCD TVs was 460,000 units in 2005 and will be 885,000 units this year.

"More customers will want to watch on TVs with big screens," said Okuda.

Among the 10 new LCD TV models Sharp launched on Thursday are two 45-inch and two 37-inch full HD models. The sets offer LCD panels with several improvements on previous screens including a higher contrast ratio of 1200:1, wider viewing angle of 176 degrees and faster response time of 6 milliseconds.

The top-of-the-range 45-inch models will cost YEN 580,000 ($AU6697) when they go on sale from March while the 37-inch full HD models will cost YEN 430,000, said Sharp. The new sets also feature 13 percent lower energy consumption, the company said.

Sharp's unveiling of its new LCD TVs came on the same day that a Japanese electronics industry organization said annual domestic shipments of LCD TVs overtook those of traditional CRT (cathode ray tubes) in 2005 for the first time in history. A total of 4.2 million LCD TVs were shipped in Japan last year against 4 million CRT sets and 468,000 PDP (plasma display panel) sets, said the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association.

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Martyn Williams

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