Sharp develops super high-def screen for future TV

The prototype LCD is another step towards a new TV system for the next decade

Japan's Sharp has developed an 85-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) panel with resolution equivalent to 16 times that of today's HDTV panels. The screen, which is only a prototype, was developed for Super Hi-Vision, a next-generation television system currently under development in Japan.

At 7,680 pixels by 4,320 pixels, Super Hi-Vision images will have four times as much detail horizontally and vertically than the best of today's HDTV images.

The system is being developed by Japan's public broadcaster, NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai), and demonstrations of early prototypes have shown a very detailed image with beautiful colors. The images are so good, the viewer can feel immersed in a scene in a way not possible with current 3D TV technology.

The first public trials of Super Hi-Vision are due to start around 2020 and the development of the LCD screen is the latest in a number of steps towards that goal.

Because of the large amount of detail in each Super Hi-Vision image -- each frame is equivalent to a 33-megapixel picture -- highly complex cameras, mixing and switching systems, and recorders and transmission equipment need to be made to handle the huge bandwidth of the video image.

Recent years have seen a number of developments towards smaller, lighter and cheaper Super Hi-Vision prototypes.

Earlier this year, JVC unveiled a Super Hi-Vision projector that is less than half the size and a quarter the weight of previous devices. The projector is still fairly large, heavy and expensive, but its development serves as a further indication that work towards the 2020 goal is progressing.

Development of Super Hi-Vision began in 1995, just as analog HDTV broadcasting was beginning to take off in Japan. NHK, which is one of the few broadcasting companies to heavily invest in R&D, began work on HDTV in 1964 and was the first broadcaster in the world to launch regular HD broadcasting. It's hoping to repeat that with Super Hi-Vision in the next decade.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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