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Sharp shows off midrange high-resolution TV as CES gadget show opens in Las Vegas

AT&T to let Web sites pay for data use

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    Jim Sanduski, Sharp Electronics Marketing Corp. senior vice president, shows off a new lineup of Sharp televisions at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday. Sharp is bridging the gap between expensive 4K TVs and HD versions.


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    An LG Life Band Touch activity tracker is one of many electronic gadgets unveiled at the consumer electronic show in Las Vegas. The device features calorie output and heart rate tracking.



Jim Sanduski, Sharp Electronics Marketing Corp. senior vice president, shows off a new lineup of Sharp televisions at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday. Sharp is bridging the gap between expensive 4K TVs and HD versions.


LAS VEGAS — Japanese electronics maker Sharp Corp. is bridging the gap between expensive 4K TVs and HD versions with an in-between solution that’s also priced in the middle.

It was one of several innovations unveiled by companies at the International CES gadget show, which began Monday in Las Vegas.

Sharp's new Quattron+ technology doubles the vertical resolution of a high-definition set by chopping the pixels in half. Meanwhile, it uses a mathematical formula to double the horizontal resolution for everything but certain parts of an image.

According to Sharp, that gives its Quattron+ televisions 16 million subpixels, versus 8 million for its Quattron line and 6 million for HD. It’s a middle ground before stepping up to a 4K TV, also known as “ultra HD,” which has 24 million subpixels.

Quattron+ TVs can receive 4K signals. A 70-inch model is expected to retail for about $3,200.

Up close, the Quattron+ screen is noticeably more detailed than standard HD.

Side-by-side footage of people kayaking, snowboarding, or getting makeup applied — with the technology turned on and off — revealed richer skin texture in close-ups and sharper details all around.

AT&T Inc., the country’s second-largest wireless carrier, announced Monday that it’s setting up a “1-800” service for wireless data.

Web sites that pay for the service will be toll-free for AT&T’s wireless customers, meaning the traffic won’t count against a surfer’s monthly allotment of data.

It’s the first major cell phone company to create a comprehensive service for sponsored wireless access in the United States.

The move is likely to face considerable opposition from public-interest groups that fear the service could discourage consumers from exploring new sites that can’t afford to pay communications carriers for traffic.

AT&T is trying to forestall critics by announcing that one of its first customers for the service is a startup: Aquto, which has an app that rewards users with extra data if they watch ads or download specific apps.

Health insurance company UnitedHealth Group Inc. will also use the service when it launches in the first quarter.

Mark Collins, senior vice president for data and voice products at AT&T’s wireless arm, said that, as an example, UnitedHealth could use the service to provide customers with free educational videos.

Mr. Collins emphasized that apart from the issue of billing, the traffic from the sponsoring sites will be treated the same as other traffic on the network, keeping AT&T in compliance with the Federal Communications Commission’s “net neutrality” rules, which mandate equal treatment of traffic.

Those rules are subject to a court challenge.

Matt Wood, the policy director at the communications right advocacy group Free Press, still thinks that the plan runs against the principle of openness and equal access that’s made the Internet successful.

“Letting the carriers charge more or less money to reach certain sites is discriminatory, and it’s not how the Internet is supposed to work,” Mr. Wood said in a statement.

GoSmart Mobile, a sub-brand of No. 4 carrier T-Mobile US Inc., announced two weeks ago that Facebook traffic will be free for its subscribers, because the site is paying for it.

AT&T’s announcement is much broader — the company is inviting all Web companies to use its “1-800” service, and the free access will apply to all its subscribers.

At the end of September, AT&T had 51 million smart phone subscribers on contract-based plans, and a few million more on prepaid plans.

Korean electronics maker LG Corp. is jumping into the wearable fitness market.

The company is making earbuds that will measure your heart rate from inside your ears. The earbuds connect to a small medallion that syncs to a smart phone via Bluetooth wireless technology.

There were no immediate details on price and release dates.

Panasonic Corp. unveiled a product that combines two big tech trends — ultra HD and wearable devices — with a portable camera that hooks onto your ear and records in ultra-high definition 4K video.

Panasonic didn’t immediately name the gadget, but it resembles the company’s A100 full HD camcorder, which is a smart phone-sized device that straps to a user’s arm and is connected by a cable to a tubular device housing the lens.

Julie Bauer, president of Panasonic’s consumer electronics division, said the device is waterproof and dust-proof and for the everyday person.

Video shot in 4K resolution, which uses about quadruple the pixels found in HD, can be shared via Wi-Fi and viewed on smart phones or ultra HD living room TVs.

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