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Sony unveils first LCD TVs

These are very, very cool and not too pricey

Sony is throwing its hat into the LCD (liquid crystal display) flat-panel television set market with the launch in June of its first two ultra-slim TVs.

The company is launching a 15in standard aspect ratio set, with 1,024x768 pixel resolution and a 17in widescreen set, with 1,280x768 pixel resolution. The smaller set supports conventional television while the larger model comes equipped for digital television.

The sets also include S-Video and AV-Multi inputs, the latter to connect to Sony's PlayStation2 game console, but you won't be able to use them as computer monitors without translating the RGB output of your PC into another format, which will reduce the image quality unless you have newer video card with S-Video output.

Sony's new sets enter a flat-screen TV market that is dominated by Sharp at the low end and occupied by most major Japanese consumer electronics makers, including Sony, at the high-end with PDP (plasma display panel)-based products.

Sharp has been pushing LCD TVs since late 2000, when the company announced a range of models and an ambition to completely replace its CRT (cathode ray tube) sets with LCD TVs by 2005. Just over 18 months into the LCD drive, half of the company's television range is already occupied by flat-panel sets although sales still lag behind those of CRTs, mainly because of their higher price.

The new Sony televisions look set to inject some competition into the market both in terms of selection and price.

The 15in model carries a retail price in Japan of around £645 — cheaper than a recently launched Sharp set with a similar size of panel — while the 17in widescreen model, for which there is no close comparative set from Sharp, is around £887.

Sony said plans for overseas sales of the sets are under consideration but nothing has been decided yet.

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