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Sharp announces latest LCD TVs

Is this the end of TV as we know it?

Sharp launched a new range of LCD (liquid crystal display) television sets yesterday, taking it another step towards its goal of phasing out old-style tube televisions by 2005.

Like the company's previous range of LCD TVs, introduced under the Aquos brand in Japan in late 2000 and earlier this month in the USA, the new sets come in three screen sizes: 13, 15 and 20 inches. Compared to those previous models, the new sets have better screens and more features, said Arisa Mori, a spokeswoman for Sharp.

The TFT (thin film transistor) screens have been upgraded to give a wider viewing angle of 170 degrees in both horizontal and vertical planes, compared to 160 degrees in the previous models. The new TVs also feature a PC Card slot which allows users to plug in a memory card from a digital still camera and view pictures on the TV screen, without the aid of a personal computer.

Also new is an optional wireless video transmitter that is capable of sending digital audio and video signals from a fixed unit, like a satellite receiver or VCR, to a companion unit that clamps onto the back of the Aquos LCD units. Based on the IEEE 802.11b wireless LAN system, the 2.4GHz transmitters are powerful enough to send video to any room within an average home, said Sharp.

With the launch of the three new televisions, Sharp now has 23 models of LCD TV on the market, compared to 24 models with CRT screens. The company started pushing LCD TVs aggressively at the end of last year. The three TV sets it announced then were significantly cheaper than the company's previous models – something Sharp hoped would speed sales of flat-panel TVs.

At the same time as announcing the cheaper sets, Sharp also first stated its goal to switch totally to producing LCD television sets by 2005.

The 13-inch model, LC-13B1, should go on sale here in August at around £580. The next set to hit the streets will be the 20-inch model, LC-20B1, also in August, at £1,300.

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