x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

The big picture on flat screens

The Life: Is there such thing as too big when it comes to flatscreens?

Makers of flat screens are thinking big.
Makers of flat screens are thinking big.

When it comes to the flat-screen business, how big is big enough?

Last week, the electronics maker Sharp launched a Dh500,000 (US$136,130) TV in the Middle East, complete with a 108-inch interactive touch-screen panel.

The thought of having one's eyes and fingers glued to that much digital real estate might tickle many home theatre enthusiasts in the Emirates, although the set is actually being targeted at organisations such as universities, conference hotels, shopping centres and even boardrooms.

"It's entirely interactive," says Ravinder Kumar, the deputy general manager for the business solutions division at Sharp.

The industry is seeking to provide technology like this that would, for instance, allow a shopper to home in on what kinds of sales might be going on in particular stores.

Or in the case of a smaller set that might lay flat on a table, for business professionals to write and highlight text in a meeting then e-mail the notes to themselves later.

These kinds of innovations are part of an attempt to capitalise on what experts say is a growing, $250 million information display panel market in the Middle East.

Some of the latest products were shown in Dubai last week at Palme Middle East, a specialised audio-visual exhibition.

Video-wall panels are another growing area in this market, and were displayed by makers such as Prysm.

They are increasingly used by businesses for digital advertising, and in auditoriums, museums, airports and hospitals.

As well as providing all sorts of information to visitors, they can bring in extra revenues through advertisers keen on marketing to captivated audiences.

But panels built into a video wall are not cheap. Sharp, which has a new line of 60-inch panels, sells them for Dh50,000 each.

In October, the company pieced together dozens of LCD monitors at Gitex in Dubai, in what became the biggest video wall on display in this region, at 360 inches.

"They're larger than life," says Mr Kumar.

The Quote: "A wide screen just makes a bad film twice as bad" Samuel Goldwyn, the famous film producer