Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is set to show a prototype 54-inch wide-screen high-definition LCD (liquid crystal display) at CES, which begins in Las Vegas on January 9.

The panel, for which mass production plans have yet to be decided, is the largest TFT (thin film transistor) LCD to be announced by any of the world's flat-panel makers. A monitor based on the panel will get its international unveiling at CES, a company spokesman said.

It has a resolution of 1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels, which means it has sufficient resolution to support 1,080-line progressive scan digital television, Samsung said in a statement. The screen can also support lower resolutions, including 720-line progressive and standard definition 525 line images. The panel's contrast ratio is 800:1 and it has a 170-degree viewing angle, said Samsung.

Panel beaters Word of its development comes just over two months after Samsung began showing a prototype television based on a 46-inch TFT panel. At the time that was the largest panel to have been manufactured by the company. However, fellow South Korean maker LG Philips LCD Co. Ltd. took the wraps off a prototype 52-inch wide-screen high-definition TFT panel earlier in December. Samsung's new panel enables the company to regain bragging rights to the world's largest LCD.

Despite the jump from 46 inches to 52 inches and now 54 inches in less than three months, the next advances are not expected soon. At 54 inches in diagonal width, the panel is about the maximum that can be manufactured on today's most advanced factory lines, which represent the fifth generation of LCD production technology.

Subsequent jumps are not expected until sixth generation production lines come on stream later in 2003. Those lines will be able to handle glass sheets, on which the panel is built, of around 1.8 meters by 1.5 meters, and should provide enough space to manufacture two 54-inch panels on a single sheet, the company said.

Samsung expects its first such production line will come online sometime in 2005, and estimates it will have to invest between US$1 billion and $2 billion.