Traditionally, the CES, Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas has been used by manufacturers to showcase a number of new television sets. Normally, this wouldn’t be enough to get the writers of Android Headlines out of bed except back in June at the Google I/O, Google introduced Android TV. At the time, Google disclosed that they were working with manufacturers across the world in order to integrate the new Android product into television sets. Sharp today gave us some evidence that this is working as it announced the inclusion of Android TV into two (out if three) of their AQUOS 4K television ranges with screens from 43-inch up to 80-inch. The top two models include Sharp SmartCentralM 4.0, which used Android TM1 TV.
Android TV is still a new platform as there are currently only a very small number of products and dedicated applications available for the service. The platform has potential in the gaming, streaming and media consumption arenas but does need to be adopted by more manufacturers for it to gain critical mass. Developers need to work on remapping games to work with the gamepad that the Android TV unit uses and in some cases, realign applications to work with the different aspect ration of the television. It’s a classic chicken and egg scenario: if Sharp’s announcement is anything to go by, in a few months a great many high end televisions will include Android TV and the product should then start to gain traction.
Sharp had some other announcements regarding their televisions and displays. I’ll gloss over the insanely high specification televisions including an 85-inch 8K TV that features a 7,680 x 4,320 pixel, 120Hz panel (rumor is that LG are planning to give the G5 this many pixels!) and instead concentrate on their developments in LCD technologies. Sharp have announced their FFD, Free Form Display, technology that removed the restriction for displays to be rectangular. It does this by moving the circuitry from the bezel and into each pixel. This has another side effect, which is to reduce the bezel sizes (and we’ve already seen this with a couple of Sharp smartphones). There’s another benefit for this technology: automotive displays, because it means that car dashboards may be constructed completely of LCD panels and be made to fit whatever shape the designer sees fit to use. Sharp also speculate that the smartphone and tablets of tomorrow need not be stuck in a rectangular world but instead can be built into different shapes. The Free Form Display technology is enabled by IGZO, which is an oxide semiconductor that Sharp are the first in the world to be able to commercially mass produce. Sharp’s IGZO development will reduce power consumption, improve touch sensitivity and color reproduction. Sharp conclude their press release by highlighting that a 7.0-inch Sharp tablet is on display using a new generation MEMS-IGZO display.