The Sharp IGZO Aquos Pad SHT 21 goes on sale in Japan. The IGZO tablet revolution begins…

Sharp has this week spread the IGZO display revolution to the world of tablets, reigniting the display wars once more. With the release of their 7 inch Aquos Pad SHT21 the most advanced LCD technology on the market is ready to take on the world.

Potentially a more dramatic change than the shift to IPS panels Sharp is rolling out their IGZO technology at this very moment. A technology that will eventually improve all displays; LCD, OLED and eInk.

The Aquos Pad SHT21 hits the 7 inch tablet market initially through KDDI (mobile) in Japan.  There is no word yet on pricing for the tablet, although Sharp is rumoured to be aiming for $199 price point for the WiFi only model.

The compact lightweight tablet (272 grams, 106mm × 190mm and 9.4mm thin) manages to pack an incredible amount of technology into the smallest of tablets. Standout features include TV tuners, a high quality camera and more connectivity options than a pocket full of USB adapters. The KDDI model is likely a high end model for Sharp; this though won’t be known till Sharp has finished upgrading its entire tablet range.

Sharp SHT21, IGZO in action.
Sharp SHT21, IGZO in action.

Under the bonnet Sharp has installed the 1.5Ghz dual-core MSM8960 Snapdragon S4 CPU, 1 GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, along with a microSDXC slot for expansion. Connectivity ticks all of the right boxes; Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, MHL, NFC, 1-Seg digital TV and 4G LTE. Out of the box the tablet has Android 4.0.4 ICS onboard, while there is no word on the timing of the 4.2 update.

Keeping two eyes open the SHT 21 includes a rear 8 megapixel camera and a front facing video camera that provides VGA resolution (.3 megapixel).

The 7 inch (1280×720) IGZO display is not only faster, brighter and clearer but it also provides touch screen benefits. Featuring improved touch resolution, pixel level accuracy, that allows the included touch screen pen to become a far more artistic and useable option.

A sizable 3,460mAh battery was selected by Sharp for the SHT21, enough for a run time 2.5 times longer than previous generations of tablet, suggesting close to 15 hours of continuous tablet go time.

Sharp has also tried to ensure the tablets longevity by designing the tablet to be both waterproof and dustproof, again suggesting this is an example of a top end tablet.

The various devices that make up the touch screen revolution, tablets and smartphones etc, have reduced our computer devices down to a display and some silicon chips running the show. This has in the process highlighted the importance of a great display to these products.

The early days of the tablet revolution saw manufacturers battle using silicon weapons. Each new generation CPU improved function and speed until even the cheapest chipsets were fast enough for most people. Now with cheap dual core and quad core chips available a new battlefront has opened up, the Display Wars. Some say Apple fired the first volley with their RetinaDisplay, ironically made by Sharp before IGZO had been released.

Sharp SHT21 with stylus.
Sharp SHT21 with stylus.

Sharp is now leading the LCD technology battle with their IGZO  formula which changes the fundamental materials used to construct an LCD’s on panel electronics. The IGZO recipe (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) electronics are far better suited to shifting electrons to drive the panel’s pixels than the more common amorphous silicon. With 40 times the electron mobility over amorphous silicon IGZO offers far better brightness, response times and resolution while allowing far better power efficiency over previous generations of Sharp displays.

On maximum brightness IGZO is able to be read outdoors on a bright sunny day, no more hunting for shadows to use your tablet outdoors.

The SHT21 is available immediately through the Japanese mobile carrier KDDI. An incredible present idea for those lucky enough to be in the land of the rising sun before Christmas, a must try experience in itself we hear. Sharp is yet to announce world wide availability and pricing.

With a now crowded 7 inch tablet market the SHT21 will be up against some stiff competition, Apple iPad 7, Samsung Galaxy and Google Nexus to name but a few. Names that have till now dominated the market with highly polished hardware that is selling extremely well. Can IGZO give Sharp the advantage and can they become a contender in the tablet market?

All questions should be answered at next month’s CES in Las Vegas where the various competing technologies will be on show; the display wars are heating up in the deserts of Las Vegas.

Reference: Sharp
Reference: KDI