Earlier this week, I went out to Las Vegas to attend Sony's annual Open House, in which all of the company's new televisions, Blu-ray Disc players, DVD players, and A/V products on display for select press and all of their dealers. Like year's past, we had quite a bit of time to get "up close and personal" with all of the new models. Of special interest to me was all of the new BRAVIA LCD HDTVs, which are on tap for 2008.
Sony has moved away from rear projection TVs completely, and has totally abandoned CRTs. The entire television line is now comprised of LCD HDTVs. While clearly happy with its current arrangement with Samsung in the S-LCD plant in Korea, Sony is also forming a joint venture with Sharp Electronics for a new gen 10 factory in Japan, which is expected to go into production in FY2009 (next April 2009). At that time, 75-percent of the panels will go to Sharp, and 25-percent will go to Sony. When asked, Sony said that it is not looking to get out of its current arrangement with Samsung, and will eventually be sourcing LCD panels from two factories.
According to Sony, the company will be introducing about 50 new LCD TVs in 2008, many of them in Full HD 1080p displays. At CES, Sony bolsters Bravia flat-panel LCD line with 17 new models, which was covered in Digital TV DesignLine. Sony indicated that it had made improvements to key performance functions such as their Motionflow 12Hz high frame rate technology, the BRAVIA engine, Advanced Contrast Enhancer (ACE) circuitry, and enhanced video processing. Like many of the other TV manufacturers today, they have revamped the industrial design of their display. For 2008, Sony will be offering models in their "Z" line that will highlight a thin bezel. In terms of OLED TVs, Sony shipped its first 11-inch display in December " the XEL-1. While pricey at $2,500, it does offer a preview of the direction Sony sees flat-panel displays going. Currently, Sony has larger screen sizes under development, but would not comment on potential sizes or delivery dates.
At last year's 2007Open House, Sony introduced its BRAVIA Video Link. Today, each and every television is Digital Media Extender (DMe) capable, which offers a digital connection path for optional modules such as the BRAVIA Internet Video Link. New links for 2008 will include the BRAVIA DVD Link (is a DVD player that can be mounted to the back of a compatible BRAVIA HDTV and uses the TV's remote and the XMB user interface); and the BRAVIA Wireless HD Link, which utilizes the Amimon chipset, to wirelessly transmit uncompressed 1080p content from 1080p video sources.
While Sony has discontinued SXRD in rear projection models, Sony continues to offer front projection models for custom home theater. For 2008, Sony will offer three SXRD models: VPL-VW40, VPL-VW60, and the VPL-VW200. All models offer 1920x1080p screen resolution with the latter two models featuring 35,000:1 contrast ratio. The top-end model even offers three high frame rate chips (@ 120fps) along with Motionflow with Dark Frame Insertion.
Not surprisingly, Sony announced two new Blu-ray player, which will be available in the Summer and Fall time periods. The BDP-S350, which will be available in Summer, will replace the BDP-S300. This player will be BD-Live-ready, and include 1080/60p and 24p True Cinema output. The BDP-S550, which will be available in Fall and replace the S500, will include all of the features found on the S350 plus add internal decoding for Dolby True HD and dts-HD Master Audio.