Sharp Intros Aquos LCD TVs with Built-in Blu-ray Player

Thinking about upgrading your viewing habits to high-def and want to take care of your HDTV and Blu-ray player needs in one fell swoop? Sharp's betting on it. Its new Aquos BD line of Full-HD 1080p LCD TVs are the first to boast a side-loading slot for Blu-ray discs, DVDs or CDs. Insert a disc and the TV will automatically turn on and start playback.

A "Pure Mode" can also intelligently optimize Blu-ray display settings, such as aspect ratio. As gimmicky as the idea initially sounds, the combo looks pretty convenient in practice and could be a sign of things to come.

Other features include a new ASV Superlucent panel that Sharp says "applies an ultra-smooth finish that minimizes gloss while intensifying panel brightness and contrast", in addition to a 176-degree viewing angle, and a PC input allowing each TV to double as a computer monitor.

The Aquos BD series includes entry-level 32- and 37-inch models (reported to start at about $1100), in addition to 120Hz-calable 42-, 46- and 52-inch models. The two largest will start shipping in February; everything else launches this month.

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