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Sony Unveils Blu-ray Decks, Bravia IPTVs

Sony took the wraps off four Blu-ray products and another series of Bravia Internet-video-ready HD LCD TVs at its dealer show, here, last week.

Although the company revealed the majority of its 2009 televisions and home audio products at the International CES in January, a few surprises were held back for the dealer get-together.

Among the highlights were a pair of next-generation stand-alone Blu-ray Disc players and a pair of Blu-ray player equipped home-theater-in-a-box systems.

All four feature 1080p/60p and 24p video output and BD-Live compatibility, after the addition of 1GB or more of external flash memory via a connection to the onboard USB 2.0 port.

The highlight of the new Blu-ray offerings was the BDP-S560 stand-alone player with built-in Wi-Fi capability to help simplify connecting to an 802.11a/b/g/n in-home wireless network. Once connected, the player’s BD-Live capability offers bonus interactive functionality with select Blu-ray Discs and will enable easy firmware updates.

Additionally, the player is Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) ready, allowing it to connect to other DLNA compliant devices to share digital photos.

Slated to ship this summer, the BDP-S560 ($350 expected street retail) and the new BDP-S360 ($300) both support 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding as well as bit-stream output via HDMI.

Both players support Deep Color video output and AVCHD discs encoded with x.v.Color (x.v.YCC) technology.

Both players also incorporate Sony’s Precision Cinema HD up-scale technology that converts standard-definition signal (480i) DVDs to near-HD quality.

Additionally, the models add Sony’s Precision Drive technology, which helps to detect and correct wobbling discs from three directions, supporting stabilization of the playback of bent or scratched Blu-ray Discs and DVDs.

Sony also launched two new 5.1-channel Blu-ray Disc home-theater systems, the BDV-E300 ($600) and BDV-E500W ($800). The models, which ship in June, are BD-Live capable with the addition of 1GB of external flash memory and support the latest advanced audio codecs, including 7.1-channel Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD high-resolution audio, and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, as well as bit-stream.

The BDV-E500W features integrated S-AIR wireless audio technology, which transmits audio up to 164 feet from the main system to wireless rear speakers or up to 10 individual S-AIR AirStation audio devices (sold separately) throughout the home.

The BDV-E300 model is S-AIR ready so users can add optional modules.

“The demands of today’s home theater go beyond pristine picture quality and our new Blu-ray Disc product line offers a breadth of technologies that deliver an amazing entertainment experience,” stated Chris Fawcett, Sony home products division marketing VP. “Consumers don’t want a living room cluttered with wires and the new Blu-ray Disc product lineup breaks down the wired barriers of the past.”

Both Blu-ray HTiB systems include Sony’s Digital Media Port technology, which adds control and connectivity options for music playback through various accessories, such as a cradle for iPod players, or an optional Network Walkman cradle, a PC client device, and a Bluetooth adapter (each sold separately).

The models include an easy setup DVD, to help eliminate any confusion during the set up process, and Sony’s Bravia Sync technology (HDMI-CEC), which simplifies operation through one remote.

The models also feature Sony’s Xross Media Bar (XMB) graphic user interface, Precision Drive technology, and Precision Cinema Upscaling technology.

In television, Sony unveiled a series of additional networked models with full HD 1080p resolution and Ethernet ports. The new W series is offered as an “economic HDTV option” to the recently announced Bravia Z5100 and XBR9 models lines, while including the same interactive functionality as those models.

Sony’s Bravia Internet Video service includes a wide selection of streaming media partners including Amazon Video On Demand, YouTube, Yahoo!, Sony Pictures, Sony Music and others.

In addition, Sony said the Bravia Internet Widgets, provided by the Yahoo! Widget Engine, expand and personalize the experience while using such interactive services as Yahoo News, Video, Finance and Flickr.

The W5100 series, which will ship this spring at prices to be announced, includes the 52-inch, 46-inch and 40-inch screen sizes, all of which include Motionflow 120Hz video processing for clear images of fast motion scenes. They also feature Sony’s Bravia Engine 3, for further video enhancement of sub-HD source material.

All W-series models are DLNA compliant, and include a USB input for digital photos, digital video and audio files from compatible USB storage devices.

Other features include: 24p True Cinema, XMB menus, an Internet powered TV Guide Onscreen program guide, Bravia Sync and Bravia Link (HDMI-CEC) compatibility, four HDMI inputs and a PC input.