September's coolest electronics

By , IDG News Service |  Personal Tech, camera, HDTV

When it comes to new gadgets there's nothing better than a product that breaks ground in a market sector or does something genuinely new. This month we're got examples of both: Sony's latest LCD TV that's less than a centimeter thick and the first digital still camera to bridge the gap between compact point-and-shoot models and bulkier SLRs (single lens reflex) with interchangeable lenses.

The Sony ZX-1 is pushing the boundaries of the flat-panel TV market where screen-size is no-longer everything. After Sharp rolled out its 108-inch display there was pretty much nowhere for LCD (liquid crystal display) makers to go because larger screens aren't mechanically possible with current production lines. So now producers have turned their focus on making displays thinner. Sony managed its jump with some engineering cleverness but will need to stay sharp -- the same day it unveiled the ZX-1 TVs Dutch electronics company Philips detailed an even-thinner 8mm LCD TV, but the Philips set is still only a prototype.

In the digital still camera market the Photokina show in Germany provided a push for camera makers to release new models including Panasonic's Lumix G1. It's the first camera to offer a relatively compact body while also supporting interchangeable lenses and if the competition in the camera market keeps up it won't be the last.

World's thinnest LCD TV from Sony

Sony ZX-1 40-inch LCD TV

Sony's ZX-1 is a 40-inch TV that's just 9.9 millimeters thin -- less than half of competing sets. The big jump was managed by removing the backlight from behind the LCD panel and placing it around the side of the screen. It means a thinner TV but also restricted the screen size to 40-inches. Any larger, and the light doesn't reach the center of the screen. Another secret to its size is that the TV tuner and some other signal processing technology have been removed from the TV case and put into a stand-alone unit. To connect the TV to the box Sony has developed a wireless transmission system that is capable of sending high-definition video over a distance of around 30 meters. Look for it in Europe and Japan from November. In Japan it will cost ¥490,000 (US$4,542). Pricing for Europe wasn't available.

Panasonic Lumix G1 digital camera

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