Slim and sleek

2011 is not that far off, really, and as SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi keeps reminding us in television spots for The Association for Promotion of Digital Broadcasting (D-PA), the end of analog broadcasting is approaching. So if you've been considering upgrading to a new TV, you're certainly going to be looking at the current crop of HDTV sets -- referred to as Hi-Vision in Japan -- filling up most electronic stores. Every brand has its contenders, all using exotic new names -- from Sony's Bravia to Panasonic's Viera and Toshiba's Regza -- but my bet is firmly on Sharp's Aquos line. Sharp is the country's biggest maker of LCD screens, which are produced at its Kameyama Plant No. 2, which is prominently featured in the company's current ad campaign. Their expertise has definitely given them a leg up in the HDTV sweepstakes. Ranging in sizes from 20 to 65 inches, they all look so good with their attractive yet understated casing designed by Toshiyuki Kita that I couldn't resist picking up the 45-inch model (LC-45BE2W) for 280,000 yen when I went on an HDTV hunt earlier this month. Sporting brilliant colors and crisp images no matter the content, from digital-TV programming to high-resolution gaming, it features more input jacks and connectors than you could probably ever use at once, including all the interfaces to take you into the next decade of digital programming.