The ICC Purios television offering "natural 3-D lifelike experience," according to Sanduski, will be ready for prime time this summer. An Aquos version of ultra-HD, with four times the resolution of existing HDTVs, is scheduled for release in the second half of 2013.
Prototypes of both UHDTV sets were rolled onto the stage here, drawing throngs of photographers and video cameramen. The 3-D TV wasn't turned on. The Aquos UHDTV presented a dazzling series of near-still video images that featured snow-covered mountains, Swiss villages and lazy rivers meandering through green valleys.
Sanduski didn't mention prices for either of Sharp's highest resolution high-end TV sets. Instead, he offered consumer testimonials for current Sharp large-screen sets. Among these was a Texas woman named Mary whose neighbors regularly come to watch football on her TV because picture quality is "why people love our LED TVs."
The Sharp executive avoided the suggestion that Mary's neighbors also come to her house because they can't afford a TV like hers. This possibility poses the greatest challenge to Sharp than the technological issues being addressed in the company's R&D labs.
Picture quality, as noted by Sharp President John Herrington, is the No. 1 motive for purchasing a new TV. But there has always been a price threshold beyond which even a better, brighter, bigger picture is just too dear for most consumers to pay. Whether Sharp, and other TV manufacturers now promoting UHDTV, can move that threshold up without losing customers -- in a stubbornly sluggish economy -- is the rub that might keep on rubbing, the wrong way.