Determined to forge a leadership role in the U.S. flat panel television business, Sharp presented a group of journalists a "lifestyle" setting in a contemporary Manhattan apartment to showcase its new 30W-inch Aquos LCD and 50W-inch plasma HDTV monitors.
The 30W-inch AQUOS (LC-30HV2U), which carries a $7,999.95 suggested retail price, was billed as Sharp's first high-definition widescreen LCD offering in the United States. It features 1280x768 pixel resolution. Sharp packages the unit as a two-piece system including the monitor panel and an audio video computer (AVC) box incorporating dual NTSC tuners, scaler circuitry and connector jacks. Sharp uses a proprietary form of the Digital Visual Interface (DVI with HDCP copy protection) connector to link the AVC with the panel.
The cable carries audio, video and control information, said Frank DeMartin, Sharp product marketing director. The onboard scaler upconverts signals to a 720p form.
Jacks on the AVC include HD component video input, S-Video, composite video and a front-mounted PC input.
"Using Advanced Super View (ASV) technology, we've developed this panel to provide some of the highest contrast (500:1), brightness and viewing angels (170 degrees horizontally and vertically)," DeMartin explained.
To reduce on-screen glare and enhance contrast, the screen also adds a proprietary black TFT coating, he said. Panel width is about three inches wide and it weighs just over 28.5 pounds.
Given the larger size, the LCD TV will compete directly with a handful of new 32W-inch plasma panels on the market. DeMartin said LCD is worthy of the slight premium over plasma screens because it is lighter, thinner and offers brilliant picture quality.
"LCD is a truly progressive display where as some of the smaller screen plasma panels use an interlacing technique that gives a little less vertical resolution," DeMartin said.
The LC-30HV2U will be distributed exclusively through Sharp's SharpVision dealer accounts. In addition to the new 22-inch LC-22SV2U ($3,999.95 suggested) LCD TV. Both start shipping in August.
The latter features WVGA resolution (854 X 480) and uses advanced interlaced to progressive (I/P) conversion and enhanced 3:2 pull down. Two speakers frame the screen on either side and produce high-quality stereo audio.
Other AQUOS LCD TVs include the 13-inch LC-13B2UA ($1,1999.95, March), 15-inch LC-15B2UA ($1,499.95, now) and 20-inch LC-20B2UA ($2,499.95, now).
In plasma, Sharp showed its new PZ-50HV2U ($13,995.95 suggested retail), which will be joined in the line by the 43W-inch PZ-43HV2U ($10,995.95). Both recently started shipping to dealers. The plasma panels feature 16:9 aspect ratios and XGA resolution with scaling to the HD 720p format. Other specs include an 850:1 contrast ratio, and CV-IC technology that optimizes the film or video content for enhanced viewing through two key scaling processes: Advanced Interlaced to Progressive (I/P) Conversion and Enhanced 3:2 pull down.
Like the new 30W-inch LCD TV, the plasma TVs are packaged as a two piece system with a separate AVC box that houses two NTSC tuners, scaling circuitry and full connection panel, including PC connections.