Sharp to launch world's thinnest 4K monitor for about US$5,500

The Japanese company said the February launch will be aimed at graphic designers, architects and other professionals

Sharp will start selling the industry's thinnest 4K monitor, a 32-inch LCD screen that is just 3.5mm thick, in February.

The company said the new monitor will go on sale for about ¥450,000 (US$5,500) in Japan. It uses Sharp's new IGZO technology and can display up to 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, the equivalent of four full-HD screens.

"We are hoping to launch around the same time globally," said Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama. "This is aimed at computer designers, architects, medical users -- those type of people."

The screen will have two HDMI connectors, allowing users to connect a PC and home video equipment, and two small speakers. It weighs about 7.5 kilograms.

Sharp is promoting its IGZO display technology, named after the indium gallium zinc oxide semiconductor on which it is based, across a wide range of devices. The company will soon launch its first smartphones and tablets with the technology in Japan, and has been promoting IGZO because it uses less power than current LCD screens and can prolong battery life in mobile devices.

The Osaka-based company said using IGZO in the new monitor allowed for an extra-thin design, as the technology requires less backlighting than other methods and can be "edge lit" to avoid bulk. Sharp began mass producing IGZO screens earlier this year.

Global TV makers are steadily rolling out 4K televisions, which are named after their horizontal resolution, although little content exists for the appliances. Sony has said that this week it will reveal "the world's first 4K Ultra HD delivery solution" and offer exclusive Hollywood content to buyers of its TVs.

Screens that work both as TVs and computer monitors could be a mid-term solution until the market catches up, as users will still be able to take advantage of the high resolution in their work.

TVs that can handle 4K content, or are equipped with technology to upgrade existing content, are still very expensive. In August, LG said its new 4K TV is priced at US$22,000.

Earlier this year Sharp announced a high-definition 80-inch LCD TV for US$12,000

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