Sony has expanded its BRAVIA sub brand beyond large-screen LCD TVs to include a range of "high-performance" products from micro-display rear-projection sets to front projectors and home-theater-in-a-box systems.
At its annual line show here, Sony said that its will use BRAVIA across all new 2007 Sony TV displays going forward. The sub brand will be used to denote Sony's flat-panel LCD TVs, microdisplay rear-projection 3LCD and SXRD HDTVs and front projectors. (For more Sony line coverage see story at right and p. 8 and p. 57.)
Gone from the U.S. mix for the first time this year are CRT-based direct-view sets, which have been based on Sony's exclusive Trinitron tube technology for nearly 40 years, said Phil Abram, Sony Electronics TV marketing VP.
"We are moving out of the CRT space in the U.S. and won't be introducing any new 2007 models," Abram told TWICE. "I think this decision is consistent with what we've done in the past with making product transitions. We think the products we are bringing to bear meet our customers' needs for Sony value, and it's getting that much harder in CRT to offer step-up value. The opportunity for high-end CRT, where we have traditionally been strong, is going away."
The BRAVIA name, which is an acronym for Best Resolution Audio Visual Integrated Architecture, first appeared in 2005 on the company's advanced flat-panel LCD TV line. Behind the brand, Sony grew its LCD TV market share from single digits to 30 percent in less than a year, the company said. It now hopes to extend that high recognition value to other categories.
"When you see the BRAVIA brand, you know you're not only getting the exceptional quality, but also the distinctive elegance that Sony is known for delivering," stated Randy Waynick, Sony home products division senior VP. "BRAVIA has become associated with the best in HD. BRAVIA represents the connection across multiple categories."
Most of the new BRAVIA products will be compatible with the "BRAVIA Internet Video Link" module that was recently announced at International CES. The module, which will ship in July at a $300 retail, will enable viewers to access standard-definition and high-definition streaming video content available online through a number of entertainment Web sites.
"We're not trying to take the consumer to Internet video," Abram said, explaining that initial HD content available through the device will involve short clips and movie trailers. "We're trying to take Internet video to the consumer in a way they are most comfortable with, and that is through our television user interface."
He explained that Sony has simplified the Internet video experience by using Sony's Xross Media Bar (XMB) menu system that has been employed by the PSP handheld game player and new PlayStation3 consoles.
"The TV is getting more and more sophisticated," said Abram. "The number of sources that it has to handle and deal with is getting more and more sophisticated, and having a way to easily navigate that and keep it in the TV paradigm is very important. So we are going to be working with our retail partners to deliver that message, to make people consider the actual use of the TV as well as the picture performance as the criteria for making their selection going forward."
The module attaches to the back of compatible BRAVIA models using a DMEX interface. In the future, the DMEX system will be further developed to fit within VESA mounts to use USB and HDMI connections to add more and more modules, Abram said.
Other new BRAVIA LCD TVs this year include a pair of V series models with full 1,080p resolution. Models include the 46W-inch KDL-46V3000 and 40W-inch KDL-40V3000.
Stepping down is the S series featuring three models with 1,366 by 768 resolution. Screen sizes include 40W inches, 32W inches and 26W inches. All incorporate Sony's Live Color Creation with cold cathode fluorescent backlighting, 10-bit video processing and a 10-bit panel.
Completing the flat-panel additions is a very high-performance 32W-inch KDL-32XBR4, which adds the company's new "Motionflow" technology to reduce image blurring and image "judder." The technology creates 60 unique frames between each of the existing 60 frames, doubling the frames displayed per second, Sony said.
The set also includes Live Color Creation circuitry with cold cathode fluorescent backlighting, 10-bit video processing, a 10-bit panel and 120Hz motion compensation. Inputs include three HDMI jacks with 1,080p/60p and 1,080p/24p capability and PC connectivity via a 15-pin D-sub connector and HDMI port.
In microdisplay rear-projection sets, Sony is adding the BRAVIA badge in place of the Grand Wega trademark. Some of the first BRAVIA models will include three 3LCD-based HDTVs including two 1,080p E series models in the 46W-inch KDF-46E3000 and 50W-inch KDF-50E3000. Both feature reduced cabinet depths. Also added was a 3LCD 37W-inch rear-projection model in the KDF-37H1000. That compact set features 720p resolution and will fit within furniture originally purchased for CRT sets.
"There are a lot of people out there that have cabinets they previously kept 32-inch direct-view TVs in. This product is compact enough to fit in the same space as one of our old 32-inch CRT models," Abram said. "In a credenza it is actually better than a flat-panel display, because it can be placed flush to the front, where the stand on most flat-panel TVs requires you to set the TV screen back in the cabinet several inches."
Abram said the smaller screen in the UHP-bulb-based 37-inch 3LCD projection set produces strikingly strong brightness and contrast levels.
Sony will also add the BRAVIA name to new SXRD rear-projection sets that the company will introduce later in the year, Abram said.
At that time, Sony will be expanding on its full 1,080p efforts, with an increased assortment of 1,080p display products and source devices, Abram said.
"Our product lines will be significantly expanded in the 1,080p category, and we will continue to drive that marketplace as we have this year," said Abram. "I think Sony is acknowledged as driving that market with our 1,080p SXRD and LCD lineups. We are going to expand and really drive that through the retail marketplace through our top-down marketing efforts with our advertising all the way through what we execute on the retail floor. It's a Sony message that really can only be delivered by Sony."
In front projection, Sony is applying the BRAVIA name in place of the Cineza trademark on a 720p 3LCD model. The VPL-AW15 features 1,100 lumens of brightness, and a 12,000:1 contrast ratio using Sony's Advanced Iris 2 technology.
Most BRAVIA display products unveiled at the show are scheduled to ship in the spring and summer at prices to be announced later, Sony said.
For sound, Sony is applying the BRAVIA name to three HTiB systems including the DAV-HDX265 (shipping in March at a $300 suggested retail), DAV-HDX267W (April, $300) and DAV-HDX500 (March, $500) models. All include five-disc DVD changers, HDMI output and digital media ports that will connect to compatible Sony Bluetooth-enabled accessory products.
The DAV-HDX500 is XM satellite radio connect-and-play ready and adds Neural Surround technology and height-adjustable floorstanding speakers that match the style of BRAVIA TVs. The DAV-HDX267W offers wireless rear speakers.
BRAVIA products will feature Sony's BRAVIA Theater Sync technology that allows users to engage and control all of the products in their home theater system the push of one button.
"You are going to see this in our Blu-ray players, our BRAVIA home theater systems and our BRAVIA TVs," said Waynick. "It's all about consumers' ease of use and [enables them to] engage more with the product than they've ever had the opportunity to do in the past."