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Sharp focuses on LCD monitors

The display and monitor market is driven by three simultaneous trends: small monitors are getting larger; inexpensive monitors are improving quality (resolution and refresh rate); high-end monitors are getting cheaper. Until now, the results have been far apart. You can't merely find the intersection of these three trend lines and choose a product-you still must sacrifice a variable to find the best monitor for your application. But the latest crop of displays shows some progress in all three parts of the industry. Primarily, manufacturers are moving away from expensive, high-performance CRTs and finding ways to boost quality in power-efficient, low-cost LCDs (liquid crystal displays) and TFTs (thin film transistors). Six color LCDs released by Sharp in May play to this strength. They include three 15-inch displays (LL-T151S1A, T1511A, and T1501A); a 16-inch monitor that accepts either analog or digital signals (LL-T1610W); and two high-resolution, large-format displays (the 18-inch LL-T1810A and 20-inch LL-T2000A). "Our new 16-inch monitor addresses those issues of footprint and affordability," says Tom Martell, president and GM of Sharp Systems of America. "It provides the resolution of a super high-contrast 18-inch screen (1280 x 1024 pixels); sits on a compact pedestal or mounts to a wall; and is comparable in price to a high-performance 15-inch display."

Sharp: Enter 515

British kiosks use TFTs to quicken queues

In real-world applications, Planar Systems was charged with making a custom solution for the London subway's self-service ticket-vending machines, called Queue Busters. The outdoor kiosk had to have high temperature tolerance, reliability, vandal proofing, and bright-light readability. Faced with such demands, they selected...surprise!...a 10.4-inch TFT active-matrix LCD.

Planar Systems: Enter 517

Samsung knocks down prices

Samsung is making advances in the pricing of its flat-panel TFT (thin film transistor) monitors, a type of active matrix LCD typically used in laptops. Its 17-inch SyncMaster 760vTFT is priced at $849, and the 15-inch 570vTFT is $449. "The computer monitor market is moving to TFTs, and Samsung is giving consumers the most affordable prices ever," says Charles Park, business and marketing manager. At 2.5 x 7.2 inches at its base, the 760vTFT takes up less space than CRT models, and uses 40W maximum power draw, while the 570vTFT uses a maximum of 25W. This means both consume only an estimated 30% of the power needed for a comparable-sized CRT monitor, the company says. By comparison, Samsung's own 21.3-inch 210T digital/analog monitor is priced at $3,889, uses 64W, and is 21.6 x 19 x 9 inches.

Samsung: Enter 516

Hitachi plays the field

And just when you thought no one was making CRT monitors any more, Hitachi is introducing the CM810, a 21-inch CRT which is targeted for home-office users who want a large screen with a value price ($739). It produces resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels and has a cabinet depth of 18.5 inches; and has three higher-performance cousins in the same product line. And, of course, Hitachi has a value-level flat-faced monitor, the 17-inch CM621F. At a price of $239, resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels, and power consumption of 75W, it is packed into a package of 15.9 x 17.1 x 17.1 inches.

Hitachi: Enter 518

Clarity comes at a cost

Improving the performance side of displays, IBM has announced a 22.2-inch flat-panel TFT-LCD monitor with "the world's highest resolution"-200 pixels per inch, or greater than 9 million on the whole screen.

The company boasts it will show 12 times more detail than current offerings, yet still generate 30% less heat than LCD monitors. "The T220 monitor will promote groundbreaking new applications," says Bob Artemenko, director of new market development. "It makes it possible to see levels of clarity and resolution in electronic images previously attained only in the highest resolution printed media." The drawback is the price-$22,000. But IBM says the cost is worthwhile for applications that demand photograph-quality images, such as medicine, finance (which uses multiple screens on each display), automotive modeling, weather forecasting, and design.

IBM: Enter 519

NEC-Mitsubishi sees big savings

NEC-Mitsubishi is also pushing forward in flat panels with its thin-frame NEC MultiSync LCD1850X. At 18.7 lbs, it offers resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels at 75Hz, and accepts either digital or analog input through its DVI (digital video interface) port. "The LCD1850X allows for space-saving, multi-monitor environments," says Christopher Connery, LCD product line manager; "but the new thin frame design does not sacrifice other options found in a high-end monitor." The company estimates that LCD monitors save 34% in power costs over CRTs, thanks to lower consumption and cooler operation. See www.necmitsubishi.com/markets-solutions/index.cfm for a study on total cost of ownership for various monitors.

NEC Mitsubishi: Enter 563

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