Is Sharp showing high-res iPad mini screens?

Japan's Sharp declined to name their client, but showed a 7-inch IGZO display at its booth at the electronics show

Sharp is displaying publically for the first time tablet displays based on its IGZO technology at the CEATEC electronics show outside of Tokyo, amid persistent rumors Apple will use the displays in its upcoming tablets.

The Japanese manufacturer, which has been mass producing the screens since August for an unnamed customer, is showing working tablet displays in 7-inch, 10-inch, and 13-inch form factors at its booth, though they are sealed off behind glass. IGZO technology, named after the indium gallium zinc oxide semiconductor on which it is based, can be used to make screens with smaller pixels that draw far less power than current models with more accurate touch sensitivity. Sharp is pushing the technology for smartphones and tablets.

News reports have said Apple is leaning toward using IGZO in future products, including a rumored smaller version of its iPad tablet. No devices using IGZO technology are currently on the market. Sharp is a known supplier of screens to Apple devices.

(See video of the new IGZO displays on show at Ceatec on YouTube.)

Sharp is also showing samples of new high-definition LCD screens for smartphones, which display at 443 ppi on a 5-inch display, about 1.3 times the picture density of current versions. The screens in its booth show text that is clearly readable down to flea-sized font sizes.

The company said the new displays, which it hopes will bring in premium prices, have just started mass production.

In TVs, Sharp is demonstrating for the first time its impressive "Moth Eye" technology that kills glare on screens. Several displays compared standard glass panes and those treated with the technology, and the difference was very apparent, with almost no reflection in the treated panes.

Sharp says Moth Eye can clear create surfaces that reflect 0.1 percent or less of light shined onto them. It uses nanostructures developed from the eyes of moths, and can be cheaply printed onto LCD panels and other displays.

The Osaka-based electronics manufacturer is also using the booth to mark its 100th anniversary, which took place earlier this year. But the company's celebration has been muted as it struggles through a management crisis, mortgaging key factories, cutting staff, and slashing salaries to meet its cash demands.

Sharp is in ongoing negotiations with Foxconn, also a major manufacturer of Apple products, for a capital tie-up, though talks have stalled as Sharp's stock price sank in recent months.

CEATEC, Japan's largest consumer electronics show, runs Tuesday through Thursday at Maukuhari, just outside of Tokyo.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service

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