Sony expanded its Bravia high-definition LCD-TV lineup to more than 30 models, including derivatives, with the addition of seven TVs in the top-end Bravia XBR series.
The introductions include the company's first two LCD TVs with local dimming, and they bring Triluminos three-color LED backlight technology to lower price points, having been available before only in a 70-inch XBR priced at around $33,000, a spokesman said.
With the recent shipment of two other XBR models, the 2008 XBR lineup pushes down other key XBR features to lower prices, including Digital Media Extender (DMeX), Motionflow and x.v. Color support, and it brings Digital Media Port (DMP) technology to the SBR series, company executives added.
When the new XBR models ship in the fall, Sony will offer more Bravia flat-panel LCD TVs than it ever has, the spokesman said. Pricing will not be disclosed until later this summer.
In other announcements, the company:
added content from YouTube, Wired.com and C-Spot to its Bravia Internet Video Link service, which streams Internet content via a broadband connection to a $300 Bravia Internet Video Link module. The Ethernet-equipped expansion module in turn plugs into the back of DMeX-equipped TVs. Twenty-five Internet content providers now stream to the TVs, including CBS, Yahoo!, AOL, Sports Illustrated and FEARnet.
changed the video content of a HDD-based retail demonstration unit designed to support Video Link sales. The two-minute loop focuses more on the content available through the Video Link service than it did last year. Like before, it lets consumers use a remote to navigate through a simulated Video Link experience.
As for the new XBR TVs shown here, all feature 1080p display and are due in screen sizes from 40 inches to 70 inches. They join two 2008 XBR models announced at International CES and already shipping. Those two models, also with 1080p display, are the 32-inch KDL-32XBR6 and 37-inch KDL-37XBR6, priced at $1,199 and $1,499, respectively, at SonyStyle.com. They feature DMP, DMe X, Motionflow, x.v. Color, and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) connectivity to networked PCs to stream photos.
The two new XBRs with Triluminos LED backlighting and local dimming are the 55-inch KDL-55XBR8 and 46-inch KDL-46XBR8. Triluminos LED backlighting expands an LCD TV's color range by using clusters of red, green, and blue LEDs to backlight the display panel. Local dimming improves video contrast and dynamic range by reducing backlight-level area by area on the display to maintain detail in dark areas of the screen during a scene. The reduced light emissions yield deep blacks and reduce power consumption, Sony said.
In a head-to-head comparison demonstration here against a high-end plasma TV, Sony touted its Triluminos local-dimming models as offering superior contrast to plasma.
The two models also feature Motionflow, x.v. Color, DMeX and DMP, and DLNA photo connectivity.
Motionflow 120Hz frame-rate technology uses a proprietary algorithm to identify film-based content to deliver "a clearer picture with smoother motion during sweeping pans without a visible jerking or stuttering," the company said. The x.v. Color capability expands the range of colors by about 1.8 times when used with sources, such as Blu-ray discs and players, that support the technology. The TVs' Digital Media port allows for connection to optional docking cradles for iPods and Walkman MP3 portables, optional Bluetooth modules to play back music from a Bluetooth-equipped cellphone, and a WiFi-equipped DLNA module that streams photos and music from a networked PC.
DMeX allows for the use of the currently available Bravia Internet Video Link module as well as other expansion modules due later this year.
The two TVs also stream photos and music from home PCs and other devices certified as compliant with the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standard. Inputs include four 1080/60 24p HDMI connections, two 1080/60p HD component inputs, a 1080/60p-capable PC input, Ethernet port and RS-232C.
Two other new XBR TVs are the 70-inch KDL-70XBR7 and 40-inch KDL-40XBR7. Both feature Motionflow, x.v. Color, DMeX, Digital Media Port, DLNA, Bravia Sync (HDMI-CEC) and the same input selection as the XBR8 models.
Three new XBR6 models are the 52-inch KDL-52XBR6, 46-inch KDL-42XBR6 and 40-inch KDL-40XBR6, joining the 32- and 37-inch models introduced at International CES with the XBR6 designation. The three new models offer the same features as the KDL-40XBR7, excluding RS-232 and Bravia Engine 2 EX digital video processing. All three offer a space-saving bottom speaker, floating-glass industrial design and optional speaker-grille color accents.
On other topics, Randy Waynick, the home products division's senior VP, called it "hard to say" whether Sony would be able to ship Tru2way bidirectional digital-cable-ready TVs or other devices in calendar 2008, but he did say the company is considering a Tru2way expansion module that would plug into the rear panels of Sony TVs equipped with DMeX technology.
Waynick also said the company hasn't set a definitive date to introduce the 27-inch OLED flat-panel TV that it has shown previously in prototype form. The company currently ships a $2,499 11-inch OLED TV.