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Sony To Ship $1K Blu-ray Player In July

Sony Electronics executives announced that they will launch their first Blu-ray Disc (BD) player, model BDP-S1, in July at “about a $1,000 suggested retail price,” and kicked off a pre-order campaign on the unit.

The company also showed six new BRAVIA LCD TVs, three new 3LCD rear-projection sets and a notebook and desktop PC that will include a built-in Blu-ray rewritable drive during its dealer show, held here earlier this month. (For details on its audio introductions, see p. 4.)

The stand-alone BD player will feature 1,080p output and will boost standard-definition DVD signals to 1,080p. It also will offer BD-Java interactivity upon introduction and the ability to handle uncompressed linear PCM audio signals, as well as all audio formats that are part of the core BD specifications.

The deck, which will offer a high build quality with rigid beam construction, will play back Blu-ray Discs with both 25GB and dual-layer 50GB capacities as well as DVD videos and CDs. The deck will not support Sony’s SACD multichannel music format.

Tim Baxter, Sony’s strategic planning senior VP, said the company will use the 1,080p output capability in the Blu-ray Disc player to cross-market new 1,080p-capable BRAVIA LCD TVs and SXRD rear-projection HDTV sets.

“Later this year we will be delivering a full HD message to customers,” Baxter said, adding the company plans to increase its ad spending this year to promote the full HD message, and Blu-ray will be a big part of it. “We are very bullish on BD being the best high-definition solution for the consumer.”

Baxter hailed Blu-ray for its “significant and overwhelming industry support,” pointing out that 85 percent of the consumer electronics industry supports BD, and that nearly 90 percent of last year’s DVD sales came from studios that have committed to support the BD format with software. He said top PC companies are supporting the format as well as the makers of the top video game platform.

Baxter said Sony’s computer entertainment unit will roll out its multifunctional PlayStation3 video game console with built-in BD compatibility in time for the 2006 holiday season at a price to be announced later. He explained that the PS3’s original spring launch target was delayed because the company wanted to build in the latest version of the HDMI specification (v 1.3).

Meanwhile, Sony will deliver in June a Vaio RC desktop PC with built-in rewritable BD drive at a $2,300 target price. The PC will be designed to both edit and burn to Blu-ray Discs high-definition images captured by one of Sony’s HD camcorder models. The company also plans to market this year a Vaio notebook with built-in BD rewritable capability.

An after-market internal BD rewritable drive is also planned for later this year at a price to be announced later. The drive will support both 25GB and 50GB recordable media at 2x speed. It will burn a full 25GB disc in about 30 minutes and support all DVD recordable formats, including double/dual-layer DVDs and CD-R/RW discs.

Starting in April, Sony will support the PC drives with blank recordable media in the 25GB, and later, 50GB recordable and rewriteable formats. Discs with 25GB capacities will sell for $20 each for recordable versions and $25 for rewriteable versions. The 50GB disks due later will sell for $48 for recordable versions and $60 for rewriteable versions.

Sony introduced its new S series of BRAVIA LCD TVs in the 26W-inch ($1,500 suggested retail), 32W-inch ($2,000), 40W-inch ($3,000) and 46W-inch ($4,500) screen sizes. All models have fully integrated ATSC tuning and will feature a graphite bezel finish and 1,366 by 768 pixel resolution. Also included this year is a new enhanced digital picture processor

New 3LCD microdisplay rear-projections models will be offered in the 55W-inch ($2,800), 50W-inch ($2,300) and new 46W-inch ($2,000) screen sizes. All three feature 1,280 by 720p high-definition resolution, dual HDMI inputs, front component input for HDV camcorders and a compact frame design with below-screen mounted speakers.

Later in the year, Sony executives said they plan to introduce additional BRAVIA and SXRD microdisplay rear-projection sets, including models with full 1,080p resolution.

The newly designed SXRD line will offer screen sizes from 50 inches to 70 inches, the company said.