CES 2013: Sharp's New IGZO Display Gives Apple's Retina Serious Competition

Courtesy of Sharp

With four times the resolution of 1080p, the potentially disruptive tech could mean the first real challenge to the new iProducts.

Increasingly, consumers are viewing their mobile devices as a primary platform for entertainment delivery. In our largest screens, we have 4K and even 8K displays beginning to come to market. Now Sharp wants to change the way we view our small screens.

The company's new IGZO display technology is remarkable for a number of reasons, but chief among them for the entertainment industry is that it has the potential to bump cellphone and tablet screens to the resolution of Apple's vaunted Retina displays and beyond.

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"IGZO is an inherently high-resolution technology," says Mark Viken, vp brand marketing at Sharp USA. "It offers approximately four times the resolution of 1080p HD."

IGZO is a transparent compound semiconductor (its name comes from the elements it is made from: indium, gallium, zinc, oxygen) that Sharp co-developed with Corning Glass. IGZO transistors are smaller than the ones in conventional displays, so screens made with it can produce much higher resolution.

The first smartphones with IGZO-based displays went on sale in Japan in late 2012, and Sharp on Monday unveiled the PN-K321, a 32-inch display that is capable of 3840x2160 pixels, also known as Ultra High Definition. Sharp claims the monitor is also the category's thinnest at 35mm. 

Another side benefit of the technology is that IGZO displays consume far less power, so in addition to enabling high-definition content on mobile devices, the devices themselves should last about twice as long between charges.