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Loewe, Sharp Expand Deal On LCD TVs

High-end TV manufacturer Loewe Opta, with U.S. sales offices based here, announced that it is expanding an ongoing partnership with Sharp to produce ultra-flat LCD televisions.

The two companies said they will jointly develop and market LCDs in Europe, the United States, Japan and other Asian markets.

The original partnership began in 2000 as a joint technology venture in the high-end LCD-TV segment.

The focus of the new agreement is on the joint development of premium class, large-format LCD televisions for the European market.

The agreement between the two companies also calls for optimizing assembly operations to pursue economies of scale. Loewe is already producing LCD-TVs in the production center of Kronach, Germany.

Plans also call for collaboration in the area of product sales outside of Europe. Sharp has expressed interest in marketing Loewe products in Japan and other Asian markets. At the same time, Loewe is planning to expand its range of product sold in the United States.

Loewe is lending its expertise in digital signal-processing technology, focusing on the development of “premium products specially designed for European markets.”

Sharp has long been considered a top developer and manufacturer of LCD technology.

Meanwhile, Sharp Electronics’ U.S. sales operation announced delivery of five flat-tube color televisions, sub-branded X-Flat, as part of its 2003 line. Models are available in 20-, 27- and 32-inch screen sizes, with two different feature sets.

Select step-up X-Flat models will include Velocity Modulation Scanning (VMS), 3-line digital comb filters, contrast enhancers, black level expander and 2-tuner picture-in-picture.

V-compression (16:9 mode) is also included on certain models for viewing widescreen content. Enhanced onboard sound includes SRS surround sound, BBE and tone control. Inputs include component video (dual terminal for 32-inch model), S-video and a twin RF terminal.

The 32-inch 32F830 is available this month at an $849.99 suggested retail, while the 27-inch 27F830 is available now at $549.99.

The F630 Series includes the 32-inch 32F630 ($749) and the 27-inch 27F630 ($499) which are available now. The 20-inch, 20F630 ($299), ships in June.