Sharp yesterday fanned the flames of an already heated LCD (liquid crystal display) flat-panel display market with LCD products from a new subsidiary, Sharp Systems of America, according to officials.

Six flat-panel models, with screen sizes ranging from 19.6in to 15in, make up the new company's product portfolio. The 19.6in LL-T2000A retails for $3,099, and the 15in LL-T1501A starts as low as $549, said officials for Sharp Electronics.

Sharp hopes to capitalise on the current buyer's market for flat-panel monitors created by recent, aggressive price reductions by LCD competitors such as NEC/Mitsubishi.

Reduced flat-panel prices are an added incentive for companies to switch to LCD displays, which already pay dividends in number of other ways, according to Martin Reynolds, a fellow with research firm Gartner.

Reynolds said LCD monitors are better for the eyes, offer 'significant space savings', and consume about half the power of CRT monitors.

Sharp is no stranger to the LCD display technology. The company introduced one of the first liquid crystal displays in 1973 in early electronic pocket calculators.