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Sony to Launch Centimeter-thin LCD TV This Year

Pushing new boundaries in LCD (liquid crystal display) TV size, Sony will launch later this year a set that's considerably thinner than others on the market, it said at the IFA electronics show in Berlin on Thursday.

The ZX-1 is a 40-inch TV that measures just 9.9 millimeters at its thinnest point along the edges. In comparison Sharp's new XS-series sets, which were also unveiled on Thursday at IFA, are 23 millimeters thick while new plasma TVs from Panasonic due next year will be about 25 millimeters thick.

Sony has so far only announced a precise launch date for Japan, where it will go on sale on Nov. 10 and cost ¥490,000 (US$4,540), but it should be available in Europe at around the same time. Launch plans for the U.S. were not disclosed.

The thickness of a TV is fast emerging as a new battleground in the market and manufacturers are concentrating on slimming down the backlight, which sits behind the actual LCD panel and generates the light that shines through the screen.

Sony also focused on the backlight but instead of making it thinner moved it from behind the panel into the edge of the set around the LCD panel. LED (light emitting diode) arrays provide the light from the side, which is shone in and reflected out through the LCD panel.

Another secret to its size it that the TV tuner and some other signal processing technology have been removed from the TV case and put into a stand-alone unit. To connect the TV to the box Sony has developed a wireless transmission system that is capable of sending high-definition video over a distance of around 30 meters. This means a power cable is all that is required to be run to the set.

The unit is compatible with DVB-T terrestrial and DVB-C cable television and has an integrated MPEG4 AVC-HD tuner for high-definition broadcasting. It can also hook up with devices such as a Blu-ray Disc player or games console. And because the unit won't necessarily be sitting close to the TV Sony employs radio technology in the remote control, so it isn't limited to short-range, line-of-sight like current infrared remote controls.

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