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Foldable LCD monitors open in U.S.

U.S. shoppers get first go at two liquid-crystal display monitors from NEC-Mitsubishi that have acrylic screens and flexible frames, allowing them to be collapsed for mobile use.

A joint venture between Japanese electronics giants NEC and Mitsubishi has taken mobile computing up a notch with two foldable liquid-crystal display monitors.

NEC-Mitsubishi Electronics Display of America on Tuesday launched the 15-inch NEC LCD1565 and the 17-inch NEC 1765. Unlike conventional LCD monitors, the new products have acrylic screens and flexible frames that allow them to be folded.

The collapsed packages weigh 8.6 pounds (3.9 kilograms) and 13.2 pounds (6 kilograms) respectively, the company said in a statement.

Despite this feature, the price tags for the two monitors are similar to those of other LCD products on the market. The NEC LCD1565 is priced at $349 and supports a maximum resolution of 1024x768 pixels. Its 17-inch counterpart, the NEC 1765, costs $549 and offers a resolution of 1280x1024 pixels. Both products are currently sold in the United States only.

"For the growing number of consumers eager to upgrade to an LCD monitor, portability will be a differentiating factor that will enable them to leverage the advantages of LCD technology in a variety of computing environments," said Sam Bhavnani, a display analyst with research firm ARS.

Rival display makers have previewed monitors similar to the new ones from Itasca, Ill.-based NEC-Mitsubishi in the past year, in a bid to tap into the burgeoning LCD market.

Samsung claims to have been the first to introduce foldable LCD screens, with an 8.4-inch monochrome display that it showcased at the Korea e-book industry tradeshow last April.

Unlike NEC-Mitsubishi's collapsible displays, which are targeted at desktop users, Samsung's black-and-white monitor is meant as a display for electronic books. Because of its niche application, the 8.4-inch screen uses cholesteric LCD technology, a feature that allows the monitor to retain images without a power supply.

According to DisplaySearch, a research firm specializing in the market for flat-panel displays, shipments of 10-inch or larger LCD screens rose to a record 18.7 million units during the fourth quarter of last year, a 27 percent surge over the same period in 2001.

CNETAsia staff reported from Singapore.