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Sony Debuts SXRD 50W-, 60W-Inch PTVs

Sony unveiled two sets in the Grand Wega microdisplay television line based on its Silicon X-tal (Crystal) Reflective Display (SXRD) technology, delivering full 1,920 by 1,080p high-definition resolution.

Sony made the introduction while celebrating production of its 1 millionth rear-projection Grand Wega set at its technology center, here. The facility will be used to produce most of Sony’s SXRD and 3LCD rear-projection HDTV sets, in addition to 32- and 36-inch FD Trinitron Wega direct-view CRT TVs.

Both 1,080p KDS-R60XBR1 and KDS-R50XBR1 Grand Wega models feature three new 0.61-inch SXRD panels, which Sony claims is the world’s smallest — one each for red, green and blue color reproduction — delivering more than 2 million native pixels (1,920 by 1,080) for a full high-definition picture.

Sony said it developed a new chip-manufacturing process that enables the mass production of smaller SXRD processors without sacrificing pixel resolution. The smaller chip size brings greater manufacturing efficiencies that will help to lower production costs over time, the company said.

SXRD technology is classified as part of liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) design technology, but with fundamental differences from other LCoS technologies in the market, Sony said. The company claims to use a unique production process that mates the panel glass with a back plane before being cut into individual panels. The process reduces the size of the cell gap, minimizing dust contamination and achieving higher yield rates.

“We feel SXRD is incredible technology,” said Randall Waynick, the newly appointed senior marketing VP of Sony’s Home Products Group. “We wanted to get to the smaller chip size so we could improve mass projection, but we also wanted to drive up the pixel count. We are getting to the point where we are at the sweet spot, where we offering a better value to the consumer and we are delivering improved performance.”

Sony said it can produce up to 3 million SXRD chips per year worldwide (supporting approximately 1 million SXRD sets), with the United States representing the bulk of the global big-screen television demand.

The panels produce a contrast ratio of 5,000:1. An “Advanced Iris” combines with the three panels and Sony’s Cinema Black Pro mode to maximize contrast ratio up to 10,000:1 based on overall light levels of the original signal. The result is exceptional brightness and sharp contrast. Additionally, the aperture of the iris shutter has been reduced in size, resulting in more faithfully reproduced blacks, the company said.

The new models are digital-cable-ready with an integrated CableCARD slot, Sony’s S-Master Digital Amplifier and SRS TruSurround audio effect. Other features include dual HDMI inputs, three i.LINK (IEEE 1394) inputs, a PC input, optical audio output and a Memory Stick flash-media viewer.

The sets do not include built-in electronic program guides.

The 60W-inch KDS-R60XBR1 and 50W-inch KDS-R50XBR1 units will ship in October for about $5,000 and $4,000, respectively. Optional matching stands will also be available at $499 each.

Sony will distribute the sets through, at Sony Style retail stores and at authorized Sony XBR dealers nationwide. The expanded XBR distribution base includes both Circuit City and Best Buy, with the latter positioning XBR sets within its step-up Magnolia departments.

To support the new sets, Greg Gudorf, Sony Home Products Division TV marketing VP, said the company will launch an HDTV consumer education campaign later this year, to help TV purchasers understand the differences in the many options facing consumers today.

The program, which will stress finding the best display solution to fit consumer’s individual applications, will utilize TV, print and online advertising, and will include a major sweepstakes and a series of seminars kicking off later this month with plans to hit 1,000 locations across the country.