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Sony Unveils ’06 Blu-ray, BRAVIA Lines

LAS VEGAS — Sony announced plans for its first Blu-ray Disc players, key new Bravia LCD TVs and the company’s first hard-disk-drive-based digital camcorder, here at International CES on Wednesday.

For Blu-ray Disc (BD), Sony said it would begin to introduce in the United States this spring a number of products using the technology, including a home player, VAIO computers with BD drives, after-market computer drives and recordable BD-R (write-once) and BD-RE (rewritable) media.

Sony said the format will deliver video content in up to 1,080p high-definition resolution, but offered few other details on product specifications or pricing.

Sony said its first BD home player — model BDP-S1 — will be available in early summer and will feature 1,080p output capability and DVD up-scaling to 1,080p.

Also this summer, Sony will introduce RC series VAIO desktop computers with BD recording technology for home-based HD movie productions. Sony will include its VEGAS software to enable users to edit HD footage and archive the finished production on BD-R and BD-RE Blu-ray Discs or on traditional DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/+RW discs, capitalizing on flexibility in storage, playback and recording.

After-market drives with BD technology are also expected to be offered for PCs this year.

Beginning in the spring, Sony will ship single-layer BD-R and the BD-RE recording media. Dual-layer 50GB capacity recordable media will follow in the subsequent months. The company said its media will feature AccuCORE technology with scratch-guard protection and temperature durability.

To support the launch, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment division will be release 20 titles on BD-ROM discs, including both recent hits and classics.

Sony Computer Entertainment’s PlayStation 3 console, which is due to ship later in the year, will also be based on BD-ROM media.

Sony plans to tie BD technology to with new 1,080p-capable SXRD rear-projection televisions and BRAVIA LCD TVs.

The company announced a range of new BRAVIA models, which will begin shipping in the February, March and May, and highlighted the group by showing an 82W-inch LCD TV with Triluminous LED backlighting as a technology statement.

The BRAVIA U-Series will include a pair of LCD TV monitors in the 40W-inch KLV-40U100M (March, $2,800 suggested retail) and 32W-inch KLV-32U100M (February, $1,700). Both feature redesigned remotes with direct input access.

The BRAVIA S-series will include five models in the 46W-inch KDL-46S2000 (May, $4,500 suggested retail), the 40W-inch KDL-40S2000 (March, $3,000), the 32W-inch KDL-32S2000 (March, $2,000), the 26W-inch KDL-26S2000 (March, $1,500) and the 23W-inch KDL-23S2000. All will include ATSC digital tuners and S-LCD panels with S-PVA technology for improved viewing angles.

All models will feature 1,366 by 768-pixel resolution, and a set of inputs including HDMI, HD component video and PC.

In camcorders, Sony announced a pair of high-end DVD models and the company’s first hard-disk-drive model. All feature built-in Dolby Digital 5.1 channel surround sound and a center-channel microphone capability.

DVD model highlights include the DCR-DVD505 (March, $1,100 suggested retail) and DCR-DVD405 (February, $900) which support an optional Bluetooth wireless microphone that can be clipped to a subject while shooting to amplify the center channel sound in the camcorder’s Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround sound system. The mike will operate at a range of up to 100 feet.

The DCR-DVD505 model includes a 2-megapixel ClearVID CMOS sensor, compact body design and 3.5-inch SwivelScreen LCD with Clear Photo Plus technology for brighter images.

The hard drive model, DCR-SR100 (May, $1,100) offers long record times and seamless PC connectivity. The unit includes Dolby Digital 5.1 surround support with an optional Bluetooth center channel mike.

Features include a 3-megapixel Advanced HAD CCD imager and Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens, and a 30GB hard drive capable of storing up to seven hours of DVD-quality video at a time. A 3-megapixel still camera capability captures images in either 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratios, and includes a built-in flash, and 2.7-inch SwivelScreen LCD display.

In microdisplay rear-projection TV, Sony introduced a 55W-inch slim cabinet SXRD HDTV set with 1,080p native resolution. Cabinet depth on the model is said to be 30 percent thinner than the previous 50W-inch SXRD model.

Additionally, Sony previewed a new home network system compliant with Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standards and an all-in-one home theater system featuring an LCD TV/DVD player and 2.1 channel surround audio.

In car navigation, Sony unveiled the first product under its new “nav-u” brand. The compact NV-U70 (February, $700 suggested) features a built-in 3.5-inch touch-screen and two-way speaker system. It is driven by a 12-channel GPS receiver with proprietary RF technology and a built-in antenna, allowing the unit to receive a satellite signal within seconds after it is turned on.

The unit comes preloaded with maps of the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Canada on its 1GB of imbedded flash memory. Updates to the mapping database are made by connecting the device to a PC’s USB port.

Sony also announced it was entering the e-book category with introduction of the Sony Reader. The unit is roughly the size of a paperback book (at about 0.5 inches thin), and can store hundreds of books in internal memory with the addition of an optional Memory Stick or Secure Digital flash memory card.

The Reader will also store and display personal documents in Adobe PDF format, favorite Web content and JPEG photos.

Sony will distribute e-book content via is Sony Connect online service. Supporting publishers include Random House, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin-Putnam, Simon & Schuster and Time Warner Book Group.

In PCs, Sony announced the VAIO FE series notebook (February, $1,650 suggested retail), which is billed as a mobile media center.

It includes Intel, DDR2 memory and a super-fast serial ATA hard drive to improve speed. Also included is a 15.4W-inch widescreen display and the Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 operating system. Also included is built-in 802.11 a/b/g wireless LAN connectivity, an 80GB hard drive, an onboard DVD+R double-layer/DVD±RW drive and ExpressCard PC card compatibility.

The company also announced new VAIO SZ and SZ Premium series notebooks that feature thinner designs and higher performance. Models feature 13.3W-inch widescreen displays.

VAIO SZ series notebooks will be ship in the spring with standard models starting at $1,999 and SZ Premium models starting at $2,299.

The SZ Premium series offers SZ features in a slimmer 0.9-inch-thick carbon fiber-clad casing. Select SZ Premium notebooks include integrated wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN) technology, allowing you to surf the Internet and check e-mail using cellular services.

In mobile phones, the Sony Ericsson announced it will ship this spring a new Walkman-branded mobile music phone in the Satin Black W810. The Quad-band EDGE phone (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) will store and playback MP3 and AAC digital music files on its supplied 512MB removable Memory Stick PRO Duo card, which can be upgraded to a 2GB Memory Stick.

The phone comes with HPM-70 stereo headphones and Disc2Phone music management software.