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Sharp to develop large, cheaper LCDs

Sharp will produce large but less expensive liquid crystal displays that will drive down notebook prices.

Sharp is set to start producing large but inexpensive liquid crystal displays that will drive down the price of notebooks sporting 11.3- and 12.1-inch LCD screens.

Currently, notebook PCs with high-quality, active-matrix LCDs are priced from $4,500. IBM's popular ThinkPad 760 with a 12.1-inch active-matrix display, for example, is priced well over $5,000. The new Sharp display, however, could drive prices down by as much as $1,000 for these notebooks.

The company's new "Sharp-addressing" LCDs are designed to offer better image quality than the the dual-scan LCDs now widely used and even approach that of expensive active-matrix displays. "Sharp-Addressing" is an enhancement to passive-matrix technology, the basic technology used in the dual-scan LCDs popular in low-cost notebook PC lines. Dual-scan displays are cheaper than the active-matrix alternatives but have always been plagued by "ghosting" and slow response times, making them inadequate for video.

But Sharp says it has closed the quality gap in a number of important ways with Sharp-addressing displays that offer better contrast and clarity and are able to handle full-motion video better than dual-scan displays.

The company will start volume production of 11.3-inch and 12.1-inch Sharp-addressing LCDs for notebooks immediately. Although Sharp has not disclosed exact pricing, the cost to notebook manufacturers for these displays is expected to fall well below $1,000 and even approach the $500 mark, less than half the cost of many 11.3- and 12.1-inch active-matrix LCDs.

In addition, Sharp plans to produce large-screen 1024-by-768-pixel color displays that can be used as CRT monitor replacements on the desktop. In June, Sharp will begin manufacturing 17.7-inch 1024-by-768-pixel screens with prices of between $1,300 and $1,400. The 15-inch version will be under $1,000, and the 13.8-inch version will be well under $1,000.

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