The main headline at Sharp’s press conference last week at CEDIA focused on the fact that the company’s new Gen8 plant will start making 42-, 46- and 52- inch Full-HD (1080p) LCD-TVs in October at plasma-killing prices of $2,400, $3,499 and $4,799 respectively. But Sharp has another card up its sleeve. A brief video presentation revealed the company’s strategic plan to excel in large panel manufacturing - but to do so using the highest eco-tech methods employed to date at its groundbreaking Kameyama No.2 plant.
Senior Analyst and Editor
of Projection Monthly
According to the company, the plant is the most environmentally friendly factory in the world. For example, Sharp employs a world-class solar generation system that produces 5,150 KW of power (enough to power 1,300 average US households). An additional 1,000 KW fuel cell is the largest in Japan and is used exclusively for in-house power. This along with its co-generation system, that supplies electricity and heat (from hot wastewater) cuts CO2 emissions by 40% according to the company web site. Sharp also emphasizes that 100% of its waste water (over 28,000 cubic meters per day) is recycled and even the air conditioning employs a natural cooling system, positioned to harvest the cool winds off Mt. Suzuka to the Northwest of the factory.
The most amazing fact emerged when Sharp CEO and COB, Toshihiko Fujimoto was questioned about the added costs to the panels for all this eco-technology. He said that Sharp built the factory because it is the right thing to do for the environment, but when it all added up the cost delta compared to conventional energy sources was negligible.
Our take: The Sharp Gen8 Aquos TVs can claim both the highest production efficiencies in the industry and the fastest response times at 6- and 4ms. Most importantly, these Aquos sets produced some of the best Full-HD images we’ve seen. So with the new announced pricing, they offer perhaps the best value on the shelf.
The fact that the panels are made at the highest eco-tech factory on the planet is a claim that Sharp can leverage all the way to the bank. Even if a side-by-side comparison with-say the Sony Bravia reveals very close image quality, eco conscious US buyers will have yet one more reason to buy the environmentally friendly Sharp set. Kudos to the Sharp team for putting the environment high on the priority list-showing other manufacturers the way.-SS