Sharp at CES 2011: nearing its centenary, and looking forward to Galapagos
There was a commendable lack of self-congratulation at the Sharp press conference this lunchtime (lunch, incidentally, was of the Saran-wrapped variety that’s seemingly built to withstand a nuclear strike).
For a company on the cusp of its centenary year – it was founded in 1912, in the propelling pencil business, and made its first radios in the 1920s –, Sharp is facing determinedly forward rather than basking in previous glories.
As is only appropriate when addressing a predominately American audience, Sharp executives dwelt lingeringly on the subject of size. ‘Making bigger better’ was a recurring theme, and the news that 70 inches is the new 55 inches seemed to play well with the natives in the crowd.
Sharp has belatedly clambered aboard the 3D bandwagon, and its 2011 range is topped out by the LC-70LE935 – this 70” leviathan packs Quattron technology (you remember Quattron – it’s the addition of ‘yellow’ alongside ‘red’, ‘green’ and ‘blue’ to deliver a mind-bogglingly nuanced colour palette) into a 3D TV – Sharp claims Quattron solves the problem of 3D dimness, which seems plausible.
It’s a full-array LED design with local dimming and a lot of on-line functionality – Sharp’s ‘Aquos Advantage’ is particularly intriguing, as it allows the company’s engineers access to your telly, so they can calibrate, trouble-shoot or otherwise fiddle with your product remotely.
Have a look at www.whathifi.com for our review of LC-60LE925, the (slightly) smaller, (slightly) less flash variant.
Elsewhere, the XV-Z1700 3D DLP projector looks enticing, especially at the projected US price of ‘less than $5000’ (it’ll be interesting to see how much we who live on ‘treasure island’ end up being charged).
There’s also a three-strong range of Blu-ray players (above) and five soundbars (below) in the pipeline (including one mini-design, the CP-USB50, that’s powered by USB and designed to see service on your desktop).
The product that thrilled the audience most of all, though, was the E-media tablet.
Dubbed ‘Galapagos’ (no, me neither), it’s a “dynamic media portal”, apparently. Don’t get too excited just yet, though – at the Q&A session at the end of the conference it became apparent that there's only the vaguest idea of when it goes on sale in the US (late 2011, it seems), even thought it's already hit Japanese shops.
The tablet seems to be this year’s 3D, and no self-respecting company can be without one. And the dafter the name, it seems, the better...