It ain't heavy – it's my (big) brother

Wireless home

For all those who missed it at the IFA show in Berlin there was a second chance to check out Sharp’s wireless TV – and nosey around The Big Brother house where the press event was being held.

Similar in style to Sharp’s existing LCD TVs, the Aquos LC-15L1E is designed for portable use around the home. You can charge it in its base (Sharp claim it can go for two hours – three hours if the low backlight option is used). Then take it wherever you want for viewing within a range of 30 metres, being careful not to drop it on the floor!

So how does it work? Basically the telly comes with a built-in wireless receiver that uses the 2.4GHz frequency band for picking up video transmissions from a wireless base station. Although it uses the same frequency band as 802.11b (wi-fi) it’s actually an analogue variant which is also found in £99 video senders.

This makes it prone to potential interference from mîcrowaves etc. although ensures that picture quality is of a reasonable standard (at least VHS quality). The wireless base station box, which can only be used with one LCD screen, incorporates a built-in tuner (analogue) and has plenty of connections (including two Scarts, S-Video and composite video) for hooking up various gadgets. This means you can watch DVDs, play X-Box games etc. from anywhere in the house.

Although we were sceptical about how well this wireless telly would work, results were pretty good. Even when moving the screen to the extremes of The Big Brother garden there was very little picture break-up. Most importantly you could still make out the image on the LCD screen on a reasonably bright day which isn’t always possible on computer laptop screens.

The downside? It has to be the price. One of Sharp’s non-wireless 15inch LCD screens will probably set you back around £700. Sharp reckons this wireless baby will be about double that price. That’s a heck of a premium even for those who want the latest boy’s toy.

Also announced at the event were a range of 16:9 LCD screens with built-in digital terrestrial tuners. Available in 37inch, 30inch and 22inch variants, and offering a viewing angle of 170 degrees, these can be used for watching Freeview’s 30 or so digital channels. However, again the premium over standard ‘analogue’ LCD screens is fairly high – around £300, compared to about £80 for a small set-top box.

Finally, a word about The Big Brother household. It’s shoddy. No doubt Sharp (who supplied screens for Big Brother’s Little Brother on E4) paid through the nose to hold the press event there – and it’s always nice to have a gander around a TV stage. But you just wouldn’t want to live there. The paint is coming off the ceiling and it’s a fraction of the size it looks on telly!

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