Sharp last week took the wraps off its new entry 1080p LCD TV line, featuring slim-depth and -width bezels and a reduced footprint to fit into more cabinet spaces.
The new models are part of the D64 series, which will replace the current D62 series, and feature the 42-inch, 46-inch, 52-inch and 65-inch screen sizes. All have new cabinet designs that measure 3.75 inches deep, or 25 percent slimmer than models in the D62 series, which they will replace. Models are also 20 percent lighter than last year.
"The D64 series features a slimmer, thin-line bezel and tight-fit stealth speakers," said Bob Scaglione, Sharp consumer electronics senior VP and group manager. "The bezels are 31 percent smaller than our previous models, giving consumers the ability to fit bigger screen sizes into smaller places."
As an example, he said the 46-inch D64 model will fit with in the same space used by most competitors' 42-inch models.
Scaglione explained the reduced cabinet size was made possible by "re-engineering the circuitry layout inside the LCD panel and cutting the number of parts."
The line also includes more connectivity options than the previous line. Side controls and three side terminal inputs — HDMI v1.3, component and composite — were added for easier wall-mounting options.
Rear connectivity includes two additional HDMI v1.3 inputs, one set of component video inputs, two sets of composite inputs, an S-video jack, a dedicated PC input and an RS-232 port for system integration control.
The sets will support expanded color gamut source signals when they become available, and have been optimized for easy video game set up.
The dynamic contrast ratio is 10,000:1, response time is rated at 4ms, and the viewing angle is 176 degrees.
"Our goal with the D64 series was to provide the perfect home entertainment experience with the optimal balance of style and performance, and we believe that we succeeded with this line," Scaglione said.
Like the D62 series, new D64 models will receive "open" distribution through all accounts authorized to carry Aquos LCD TV lines, Scaglione said. The D64 models will stand as the company's new entry 1080p series, omitting 120Hz frame rate technology that is featured in step-up lines.
The 42- ($2,099 suggested retail), 46- ($2,699) and 52-inch ($3,799) models will all ship to dealers in September. The 65-inch model will follow later at a price to be announced.
Unlike last year's D62 line, however, all models in the series, including the 42-inch model, will feature the same full feature specs and performance. Additionally, all models in the line will be manufactured at the company's Kameyama II plant.
To underscore the emphasis on styling in the new series, Sharp invited designer Jonathan Adler, who is known as one of the judges on Bravo's "Top Design" reality TV series, to help present the line. Adler said he was a big fan of Sharp Aquos TVs and uses them in many of his projects.
Concerning LCD inventories for the upcoming fourth quarter, Scaglione commented that Sharp will have enough product but that the industry may have a problem with "some smaller screen sizes" meaning under 32-inch product designed for the den and bedroom. The reason is that many LCD TV makers are going for larger, higher-priced screen sizes.
When asked about LCD TV prices for the fourth quarter, Scaglione said, "I don't think [price cuts] will be as severe" as last year.
Meanwhile, Scaglione hinted that Sharp will make additional product announcements at next month's CEDIA Expo 2007 in Denver, including the possible introduction of the company's first Blu-ray Disc player for the U.S. market. — Additional reporting by Steve Smith