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Hitachi unveils superskinny LCD TVs

Tokyo-based electronics company is aiming for "pure luxury" with its new TV line, which debuts in the U.S. early in 2008.

Hitachi's sexy new flat screens.
Hitachi Japan

At a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Hitachi unveiled its new "Ultra Thin" LCD TVs, a new line of flat-panel sets that measure only 35 millimeters (1.5 inches) in thickness. While other companies have also announced uberskinny flat-panel TVs recently--some even thinner than Hitachi's--the Ultra Thin (or UT) LCD line is the first to actually hit the market.

"Our focus for the last few years in the flat-panel business has been on the plasma side, but we've been working very diligently on the LCD side," Kevin Sullivan, Hitachi's chief strategy officer and senior vice president of sales, said in a conference call with the U.S. press.

Three models of the Ultra Thin LCD TVs, all with 6-watt speakers built into the base, are being manufactured: the smallest is a 32-inch model with 1366x768-pixel resolution, and two higher-end models (one 37", and one 42") with 1920x1080-pixel resolution.

The televisions will be available in Japan, where the line is known as the "Wooo," starting in mid-December with the 32-inch model. In the United States, the 32-inch model will hit stores in the first quarter of 2008, with the larger TVs coming in the second quarter. The Japanese versions will have a variety of color choices (black, white, and limited-edition blue and red for the 32-inch model) but it does not appear that the color variations will be coming stateside.

Pricing for the U.S. market has not yet been announced, but don't expect anything cheap. With the ultrathin TVs, Hitachi is targeting "a highly affluent consumer," said Daniel Lee, vice president of marketing. "This person or this family is going to seek luxury, prestige (and) style." He added, "Our marketing theme was 'accessible luxury' in '07. We're going to be moving into that 'pure luxury' category in '08."