Sharp took the wraps off the largest flat-panel TV yet developed on Sunday. The company unveiled a prototype 108-inch TV during a news conference at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The 108-inch model is a big jump on Sharp's current largest LCD TV, a 65-inch model, and beats all the prototype LCD and PDP (plasma display panel) televisions yet shown by TV makers.
Sharp plans to put the TV on sale in the U.S. in the middle of this year. It didn't provide any pricing details. Sharp's 65-inch LCD TV carries a retail price of US$10,999.
Development of the panel gives Sharp a leg-up against its LCD rivals and also helps put LCD technology into the lead against rival PDP technology, said Toshihiko Fujimoto, chairman and chief executive officer of Sharp Electronics.
"The 108-inch set means LCD TVs are now being produced at screen sizes larger than plasma," said Fujimoto. "Clearly LCD technology is now the undisputed best flat-panel technology."
The set is based on a panel produced at Sharp's number two factory in Kameyama, Japan. The factory increased commercial production this month, two months ahead of schedule thanks to strong demand for LCD TVs.
The expansion doubles Sharp's total capacity to 30,000 substrates per month. Each substrate measures 2.16 meters by 2.46 meters and several LCD panels can be produced from each sheet. In the case of 46-inch panels, eight can be produced per sheet while for 52-inch panels the number drops to six.
In the case of the 108-inch panel, it occupies the entire sheet leaving room for no other panels.
Sharp is one of the world's leading manufacturers of LCD panels and a leading vendor of LCD televisions. It had a 13 percent share of the worldwide LCD TV market in the third quarter of 2006 which totaled 10.6 million sets, according to DisplaySearch.