Culver City, Calif. - In a true Sony United presentation, the electronics manufacturer formally showcased its lens-to-living room involvement in 3D TV Wednesday, when it announced the presale of its first 3D Bravia TVs.
The company said its 3D LCD TVs are now available for pre-sale at Sony Style stores and that its integrated Blu-ray 3D devices will be at retail in July.
The presentation at Sony Pictures Studios here underscored the company's involvement in 3D in virtually every segment of its operations.
Howard Stringer, Sony chairman, kicked off the ceremony by saying "we at Sony are marshalling all of our consumer resources to deliver the next great consumer experience - 3D, from our unique 3D technologies to professional 3D cameras and equipment to integrated solutions to sophisticated 4K projection systems that display 3D films in theaters, to our studios and creators that deliver state-of-the-art film, television and game content, to our televisions and other devices currently being developed, Sony is blazing the trail in every part of the 3D universe and no one else on the planet can really make that claim."
Sony's 3D lineup now includes 19 Bravia HDTVs, Blu-ray Disc players and home theater systems, the company said in a statement.
Sony also released a free firmware update that activates Blu-ray 3D capability for previously announced Blu-ray Disc models, including the BDP-S470 and BDP-S570 players and the BDV-E570 and BDV-E770W home-theater systems.
Sony said it will support the 3D launch with an integrated marketing segment that marks the second leg of its more than $100 million 2010 make.believe campaign. Planned TV ads will start airing during the World Cup and will feature NFL quarterback Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, and Grammy and Emmy award-winning artist Justin Timberlake, aiming to deliver consumer education and eliminate 3D confusion.
The ads will support Sony's 3D Bravia line including 3D-integrated Bravia XBR-LX900 HDTV series, which features a built-in 3D sync transmitter and two pair of active-shutter glasses, and the 3D-ready Bravia XBR-HX909 and KDL-HX800 3D-ready models, which offer the option of adding the 3D sync transmitter and glasses at an additional cost.
The line features screen sizes in 40, 46, 52, 55 and 60 inches and ranges in price from around $2,100 (KDL-40HX800) to about $5,000 (XBR-60LX900).
Consumers who purchase and register one of the new 3D Bravia models will receive a copy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Blu-ray 3D title "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" as well as Blu-ray 3D title "Deep Sea."
The sets will also include a PlayStation Network voucher enabling 3D Bravia purchasers to download stereoscopic 3D gaming experiences on the PlayStation3 system (sold separately).
"Simply stated, Sony is the first company to get 3D right," said Stan Glasgow, Sony Electronics president and COO.
Michael Fasulo, Sony's chief marketing officers, said the company will conduct more than 5,500 educational 3D demonstrations on retail floors within two months, reaching more than 200,000 consumers. That is in addition to the 1.6 million demonstrations given on 3D in Sony Style stores since January.
By September Sony will have placed more than 6,000 3D retail displays in the United States featuring all of the company's 3D products and entertainment offerings, Faulo said.
On the programming end, Sony reminded that it is part of a joint venture with Discovery Communications and IMAX to produce a new 24-hour 3D TV channel to bring HD 3D content to 3D TV sets.
Tom Cosgrove, now Discovery Channel's chief operating officer and executive VP, will direct the new venture.
Sony said the as yet unnamed 24-hour 3D channel will launch in January, carrying a mix of movies, documentaries and children's programming.
News of the new channel follows announcements by ESPN that it will provide 25 out of 100 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer games in 3D, starting Friday on ESPN3D. Sony said it will be a sponsor of those broadcasts.
So far, AT&T U-verse, Comcast and DirecTV have said they will carry ESPN's 3D coverage of the World Cup Games.
Bryan Burns, ESPN strategic projects VP, said ESPN will be using Sony equipment and cameras in its planned 3D productions, which will include the MLB All-Star Game Home Run Derby in July followed by X-Games 16 from the Staples Center, followed by college football, college basketball and the NBA.
DirecTV has also said it will offer three 3D TV channels by the end of the month including N3D, a pay-per-view channel and a video on demand service.
ESPN will air its 3D content using a 720p, 60fps side-by-side format for its World Cup coverage, similar to the side-by-side format DirecTV will use when it airs its first 3D channels this month.
The side-by-side format uses the same bandwidth as standard HD transmissions and only half that of frame-sequential technology. Using the technique, an image is split into two frames - one for each eye and images are then displayed sequentially for viewing with active-shutter glasses.
Also at the launch event, Jack Tretton, Sony Computer Entertainment of America president, said all 35 million PlayStation 3 consoles in consumer homes will be capable of playing 3D content.
"PlayStation 3 is the perfect vehicle for delivery of 3D gaming, movies and content," Tretton said. "The PS3 is poised to be the 3D hub of the living room with stereoscopic 3D games and movies that can only be played on Blu-ray or downloaded digitally as part of the PlayStation Network."
Tretton pointed to a recent survey that showed 53 percent of PS3 owners are aware of 3D gaming and 71 percent believe that 3D gaming is important. More than half of PS3 owners surveyed said they would use their PS3s more because of 3D gaming and 3D movies.
He said Sony is planning the release of 20 3D capable games this fiscal year with titles including Kill Zone 3, Super Star Dust HD and Pain. More titles will be announced next week at E3.
As for Sony Pictures, the studio said its Screen Gems unit is producing its first 3D feature "Resident Evil Afterlife" for release this fall, while the "Spiderman" and "Men In Black" franchises are scheduled to get new 3D editions in the summer of 2012. The studio is also looking at ways 3D "can add a new dimension to great 2D shows like Wheel of Fortune," said Michael Lynton, Sony Pictures chairman.