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Sony Unveils ’06 Blu-ray, BRAVIA Lines

Plans for Sony’s first Blu-ray Disc players, key new BRAVIA LCD TVs and the company’s first hard disk drive-based digital camcorder were all part of its International CES introductions.

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.

Sony plans to tie BD technology to its 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 February, March and May, highlighted by an 82W-inch LCD TV with Triluminous LED backlighting. The big-screen LCD piece was showcased as a technology statement, the company said.

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, 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.