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LCDs go organic and thin

Instead of ever-larger screens, the new fad is to make them extra thin

Japanese electronics makers are no longer pushing flat-screen monitors with ever larger screens. Instead, the race is now on to make them as thin as possible.

Sony Corp. is leading the pack, with Monday’s release of the world’s first organic light-emitting diode (OLED) monitor, with a screen that is just 3mm thick. But other companies aren’t far behind, promising to ship LCD monitors that are substantially thinner than current models.

Hitachi Ltd., Sharp Corp., and the Victor Co. of Japan Ltd. (JVC) are showing off prototypes of thin LCD televisions this week at the annual Ceatec exhibition in Japan.

All of the thin LCD television prototypes on display attracted sizeable crowds on the first day of Ceatec. In contrast, larger televisions — including a 70-inch model from Sony that goes on sale in November for $34,673 — attracted little attention.

JVC is showing off a prototype 42-inch LCD television that shrinks the size of the module that holds the actual LCD panel. The modules currently used by the company are 35.3 mm thick, and the company has reduced this to 20 mm.

JVC plans to ship a line of LCD televisions based on the thinner modules early next year, with the sets to be made available first in Europe, followed by Japan and then the U.S., said Shigehiro Masuji, an engineer in JVC’s Display Business Group. The sets won’t be as thin as the module — other electronics will be required and the case will be added to make the total thickness — but they should be slimmer than current sets.

While pricing is not yet available, the sets will be available in a range of sizes starting from 40 inches, Masuji said. JVC hopes to keep the prices of the thinner televisions close to that of current models, but there may be a slight premium for the thinner models, he said.