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New York - Sharp unveiled here Tuesday a new line of LED-backlit LCD TVs "for the mainstream" market that have been designed to deliver greater value than the company's previous attempts at the technology.
The new line, called the LE700 Aquos LED series, will be available later this month in 52-inch ($2,800 suggested retail), 46-inch ($2,200), 40-inch ($1,700) and 32-inch ($1,100) screen sizes.
It will replace, for now, Sharp's expensive XS1 LED LCD TV series, which uses RGB LEDs, instead of the white LEDs used in the new LE700 line, to achieve greater color saturation levels. Sharp said it is working on eventually returning RGB LED LCD TVs to the lineup, along with other approaches, but not in this model year.
All products feature full array white LED backlighting, FullHD 1080p resolution and 120Hz frame-rate technology producing a 4ms response time.
The company also unveiled a pair of large-panel additions to the E77 Aquos LCD TV series in 60- and 65-inch screen sizes. Both use more conventional CCFL backlighting technology to set competitive price points for the company at those dimensions.
Both sets feature new screen sizes for the company's FullHD 1080p 120Hz line of LCD TVs and are scheduled to arrive this September at suggested retails of $3,500 and $4,500, respectively.
Sharp Electronics product marketing group president Michael Troetti said Sharp will soon produce large-panel LCD TVs in greater volume and greater efficiency from Sharp's new 10th Gen LCD glass substrate factory in Saiki City, Japan.
Meanwhile, the new Aquos LED models use a new X-Gen Panel with advanced pixel control to deliver greater black levels without the need for more expensive local-dimming technology, said Bob Scaglione, Sharp Electronics product marketing group senior VP and group manager.
The sets achieve high black levels and a dynamic contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1 (by Sharp's measurement system) using Sharp's Optical Pixel Control system that minimizes light leakage, and by using a wider LCD aperture, allowing more light to pass through for higher peak brightness.
The LED technology is also said to deliver greater energy savings than conventional CCFL backlit models, offering "the lowest power consumption of any LCD TV available today," while producing greater color, brightness and black levels than traditional approaches.
Because the sets use a full-array LED backlighting approach, lighting is said to be more uniform across the screen, while delivering all of the brightness, contrast and color benefits lost by models that use edge-lit LED placement to achieve thinner panel form factors.
The LE700 series models all offer more conventional panel thicknesses of around 4 inches.
Scaglione said another benefit of the LED technology is less heat generation, which promotes greater panel longevity. The lifespan of the new LED panels is expected to be around 100,000 hours, he said.
All of the models also exceed the Environmental Protection Agency's EnergyStar 3.0 guidelines by double-digital percentages. The 52-inch model is said to consume 105 watts, exceeding EnergyStar by 68 percent; the 46-inch model uses 90 watts, exceeding the guidelines by 63 percent; the 40-inch model consumes 75 watts, exceeding the guidelines by 60 percent; and the 32-inch consumes 55 watts, exceeding the guidelines by 52 percent.
The energy savings are important, Scaglione said, because Sharp recently conducted its own consumer shoppers' survey and found that "green factors" played a part in the TV purchase decision-making process of 82 percent of respondents.
All of the new sets will include Sharp's AquosNet IP connectivity, which allows access to a collection of news, data and graphics services, but still does not have the ability to access full-motion video programming, Scaglione acknowledged.
Scaglione said the new Aquos LED sets will be distributed through most of its consumer electronics dealer channels, with derivative models slated for warehouse clubs. Mass merchants will not have access to the LED line, he said.
Troetti said the rollout of the new LED models "will be supported by a nationwide advertising campaign that will highlight core values and benefits provided by Aquos LED. The campaign will begin in September and run through the holiday season."
The campaign will use television, print and Internet vehicles, but Troetti said the final budget for the effort is still being determined.
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