Sharp took the wraps off the largest flat-panel TV yet developed yesterday. The company unveiled a prototype 108in TV during a news conference at CES, the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The 108in model is a big jump on Sharp's current largest LCD TV, a 65in model, and beats all the prototype LCD and PDP (plasma display panel) televisions yet shown by TV makers.

Sharp plans to put the TV on sale in the US in the middle of this year. It didn't provide any pricing details. Sharp's 65in LCD TV carries a retail price of $10,999.

Development of the panel gives Sharp a leg-up against its LCD rivals and also helps put LCD technology into the lead against rival PDP technology, said Toshihiko Fujimoto, chairman and CEO of Sharp.

"The 108in set means LCD TVs are now being produced at screen sizes larger than plasma," said Fujimoto. "Clearly LCD technology is now the undisputed best flat-panel technology."

The set is based on a panel produced at Sharp's number-two factory in Kameyama, Japan. The factory increased commercial production this month, two months ahead of schedule thanks to strong demand for LCD TVs.

The expansion doubles Sharp's total capacity to 30,000 substrates per month. Each substrate measures 2.16x2.46m and several LCD panels can be produced from each sheet. In the case of 46in panels, eight can be produced per sheet while for 52in panels the number drops to six.

In the case of the 108in panel, it occupies the entire sheet leaving room for no other panels.

Osaka-based Sharp is one of the world's leading manufacturers of LCD panels and a leading vendor of LCD televisions. It had a 13 percent share of the worldwide LCD TV market in the third quarter of 2006 which totalled 10.6 million sets, according to DisplaySearch.