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Subpixel processing and a pair of 4K sets promise to up the graphical ante of the Aquos line

Sharp Corp. (TYO:6753) showed off a variety of TV sets this morning at a press event at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Central themes were big, high resolution, and smarter televisions.

I. 3D, Smart TVs are Here to Stay, Says Sharp

The Japanese set-maker continues to forge ahead with its own proprietary smart TV technology dubbed "SmartCentral".  Its refresh of its Aquos line includes 21 new sets distributed among the 6-Series (low-end), 7-Series (mid-range), and 8-Series (high-end).  Each set features a dual-core ARM architecture processor.  The sets range from 60+ inches to 80+ inches.

The latest version of SmartCentral adds the ability to use your Android or iOS device as a remote control.  It also features SmartBeam, which allows you to push files from your mobile device onto your LCD set.  A Flash- and HTML5-capable web browser will also be built into the sets.

Taking a page from Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) playbook, Sharp's luxury 7- and 8-Series models feature diamond-cut silver brushed-aluminum finishes.
Sharp Aquos 8
Sharp Aquos 8-Series (60-inch)

All of the TVs have built in Wi-Fi and 1080p "Active" 3D compatibility.  The new twist on 3D is improved filtering on the Bluetooth link; customers can now use the Bluetooth powered glasses without fear of interference from other Bluetooth signals (previously customers were advised to turn off other Bluetooth-communications in the area when watching 3D content).

Also included in the lineup is Sharp's proprietary sub-pixel processing, which the company claims offers double the detail per pixel as rival RGBY/RGB LCD designs.

The lineup answers two of the big questions of last few years' shows -- will 3D and smart-TVs flare out? While neither technology has wowed in terms of adoption or customer enthusiasm, the solution Sharp and other manufacturers appear to be pursuing is to simply overhaul the entire lineup to feature some level of these technologies.

II. Going Big

Sharp was also eager to plug its 90-inch LED set, which it brags is the biggest available LED-illuminated LCD TV on the market.  Launched in June 2012, this will continue to be a crown jewel in the company's lineup, getting a minor refresh with improved SmartCentral technology.

But 1080 is not the final destination for Sharp.  The company will be launching a pair of 4K (3,840 × 2,160 pixel) sets this year.  Sharp dubs these models "ultra-HD" (UHD) sets, pointing out that they quadruple the pixel count of 1080p.

Sharp ICC Purios
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

The first, the ICC Purios, will hit this summer. Named after Sharp's processor partner -- the I-cubed Research Center Inc. (ICC) -- the ICC Purious will pack ICC's (integrated cognitive creation) image processor, which supposedly mimics the way a human brain deals with images.  The 60-inch set is the first 4K model to receive THX certification, according to Sharp.
Sharp ICC Purios
Sharp ICC Purios

Sharp will push out a second set -- an Aquos-branded UHD set -- sometime in the second half of the year.  That set will feature an upscaler, which will try to convert standard 1080p content to 4K (similar to how the Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) PS3 upscales DVD content to 1080p).

The latter set will also feature "Moth Eye" a nano-scale conical coating, which mimics moth eyes.  Apparently moths have evolved the ability to minimize glare off their eye lenses to avoid predation.  Inspired by nature, Sharp applied a similar design to eliminate glare on the set.

In case that wasn't enough, Sharp showed off an 85-inch 8K LED-lit LCD TV prototype (7680 x 4320 pixel).  The ultra-ultra HD (so to speak) set won't be available this year, but Sharp calls it a "glimpse of the future of high definition".

Sources: Sharp [1], [2]

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Not sure I want a smart TV
By kleinma on 1/7/2013 2:08:59 PM , Rating: 2
TV's tend to be long term investments. Unlike a laptop or tablet, if I buy a big ass TV, I expect it to have a longer service life than some of my other electronics.

I am not against the concepts and features of these smart TVs, I just don't think I fully trust the manufacturers to keep ones they already sold up to date and running properly.

I can just see them releasing new features or updating a webbrowser, but uh oh, your 2.5 year TV misses the support cutoff and are left with series of broken features.

RE: Not sure I want a smart TV
By morgan12x on 1/7/2013 2:18:17 PM , Rating: 4
Agreed. Just give me a great display without all the "Smart" features and knock off a few hundred bucks.

RE: Not sure I want a smart TV
By othercents on 1/7/2013 2:44:39 PM , Rating: 3
Many Times the features are not part of the problems with the display, but the fancy touch sensitive buttons on the front. Good old physical buttons always worked since we usually use the remote anyways. The fancy ones wear out even though we never use them.

By whickywhickyjim on 1/9/2013 11:31:08 AM , Rating: 2
Many Times the features are not part of the problems with the display

Not so. I bought one of the the Sharp first gen 1080P LCDs (LC-45GD7U) in early 2006. While this was advertized as a 1080P set (as were many others), these sets were not capable of accepting a 1080P signal and could only render 1080i. Total bunk.

RE: Not sure I want a smart TV
By retrospooty on 1/7/2013 3:00:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yup... That and most of todays cable/satelite boxes have the same or similar functionality, so you have it doubled.

Give me a good TV, I will work out the rest.

RE: Not sure I want a smart TV
By Milliamp on 1/7/2013 4:17:18 PM , Rating: 3
A lot of the "smart" features already fit inside something the size of a USB drive (for $70). Maybe it is a good idea to have the module for the "smart" part be in a small swappable bay in the back.

This way you can upgrade the "smart" components by replacing a $100 module on the TV without needing to replace the full display.

By ShaolinSoccer on 1/7/2013 9:48:02 PM , Rating: 2
I would hate to get a virus on a TV.

RE: Not sure I want a smart TV
By Solandri on 1/7/2013 3:54:44 PM , Rating: 2
TVs are no longer a dumb monitor connected to a tuner. They're now computers running sophisticated signal processing software to process the video before it's displayed on screen. I took apart a projection HDTV to fix, and it even used a standard DVI connector between the built-in computer and monitor portions.

Adding a web browser to that computer to make it a "Smart TV" is trivial. That's probably why you're seeing them pushed so heavily. A $5 heftier CPU and a network jack, plus a few megabytes of software, and you can sell the TV for $150 more.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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