Sony 2006 Las Vegas Open House Round Up

Sony Electronics held their annual open house in Las Vegas in mid-March to show off their 2006 product line up. While there were the usual announcements of new home theater systems, televisions and the like, the big news of the day focused on their next generation Blu-ray Disc products, which the consumer electronics giant is betting big bucks will herald a new wave of revenue for it in coming years.

Sony?s 2006 Blu-ray Disc Products

Sony?s first Blu-ray Disc offerings in the United States will include a home disc player, VAIO computers, an internal computer drive and recordable/rewriteable media. The BDP-S1 Blu-ray Disc home player, which is geared to hit store shelves in July for around $1,000, is designed to deliver 1920 x 1080p output through a HDMI connection. It will support various video codecs such as MPEG2 and MPEG4-AVC, upscale standard DVDs (of which it supports multiple formats) to 1080p and offer Java interactivity for use with advanced interactive features.

Joining the BDP-S1 is Sony?s new VAIO RC Series computers, which will be available in early summer for around $2,300. Features of this desktop computer will include the ability to record to Blu-ray Discs and edit high-definition footage with a comprehensive set of software applications. Those preferring not to purchase a VAIO desktop might instead find the BWU-100A (available later this year) aftermarket internal Blu-ray Disc drive to their liking. It, like the PC, will support recording directly to Sony?s next generation DVD format as well as standard recording to an array of older DVD and CD formats.

Sony Blu-Ray Concept PC
Sony Blu-Ray Concept PC

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Sony BDP-S1
Sony BDP-S1

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Sony BWU-100A

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In April, Sony plans to begin shipping 25GB BD-R (write once) and BD-RE (rewritable) discs for about $20 and $25 respectively. The 50GB BD-R and BD-RE dual-layer discs will come in subsequent months for about $48 and $60 respectively.

Sony?s 2006 Televisions and Displays

Moving beyond Blu-ray Disc, Sony?s 2006 line up was ripe with news of new viewing displays and televisions. The consumer electronics company, among other announcements, detailed plans for new BRAVIA flat panel LCDs and Silicon X-tal (Crystal) Reflective Display (SXRD) micro-display televisions with 1080p HD capabilities.

Due to ship in the second half of this year, said Sony, there will be various models with 1920 x 1080 display resolution and some products capable of 1080p input. Sony’s newly designed SXRD line will offer screen sizes from 50 to 70 inches, while the BRAVIA models will also come in various screen sizes and enhanced features.

Sony also introduced three new Grand WEGA 3LCD models. These models ? the 55-inch KDF-55E2000 (around $3,000), the 50-inch KDF-50E2000 (around $2,500) and the 46-inch KDF-46E2000 (around $2,200) ? will debut during the summer and have a compact frame design with bottom speaker. They are HD ready, sporting two HDMI inputs and a high-definition front component input for HDV camcorders.

Sony KDF-55E2000
Sony KDF-55E2000

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Also announced by Sony in the display category was the MFM-HT205, a 20-inch PC/TV display which offers 16:9 aspect ratio and 1680 x 1050 screen resolution. Other features of this unit, which will be available in April for around $900, include a NTSC-tuner, the ability to watch TV or DVDs in widescreen mode while multi-tasking with PC applications, a variety of video connectivity options such as component and DVI-HDCP and a sound system which includes two 3-watt stereo speakers and a 5-watt subwoofer.

Sony MFM-HT205
Sony MFM-HT205

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Sony?s 2006 DVD Players/Recorders

Not to be outdone by the Blu-ray Disc products, Sony also unveiled new DVD players and recorders for the coming year. Introduced in the home entertainment cabinet focused device line were the RDR-VH530 DVD recorder/VCR combo (June ? around $350), RDR-GX330 DVD recorder (April ? around $230) and SLV-D570H DVD player/VCR combo (July ? around $170).

The RDR-VH530 sports two-way, one touch dubbing between its DVD and VCR functions, iLINK one touch dubbing for transfers from DV camcorders, component video output and support for DVD-RAM. The RDR-GX330 comes in a compact, two-inch tall design and can record to multi-DVD formats, while the SHV-D570H combo features 720p/1080i DVD upscaling through an integrated HDMI connection as well as the ability to playback DVD+R/+RW and DVD+R double layer discs.

In the portable DVD player realm, Sony introduced the D-VE7000S and DVP-FX810. Both will be available in April for under $200. The D-VE7000S is being billed as the company?s first DVD Walkman, sporting a stylish, slim design and a 7-inch wide LCD panel. Features include an embedded battery which produces three hours of playback, a high-powered speaker cradle that doubles as a charging dock and AC adapter, dual headphone jacks and Dolby Digital and DTS output.

The DVP-FX810, meanwhile, has a swiveling 8-inch LCD enclosed in a rugged, acrylic clam-shell case. The screen, once opened, is designed to flip over the DVD player¸ perching atop for easier viewing. Other features include up to six hours of battery life, control buttons on the bezel of the LCD screen, dual headphone jacks, dual sensor remote control, and a car adapter for rear-seat entertainment.

Both portable units also playback DVD, DVD+R/+RW and DVD+R dual layer discs as well as MP3 and JPEG files from CD-R/RW discs.

Sony?s 2006 Audio Products

Sony had a wide array of audio related products they were showcasing for the coming year. These included home theater systems, audio receivers, Hi-Fi component systems, boom boxes and ?The Radio?.

For home theater systems lovers, Sony announced five new packages targeted towards different price ranges. All the systems offer what Sony calls simple surround sound set-up features, including auto speaker calibration technology and multiple speaker formation settings. All also integrate a DVD player with HDMI output and 720p/1080i video up-scaling.

The DAV-LF1H DVD Dream System (around $2,000 and available in July) has a top-loading, single disc DVD/CD/SA-CD player, five flat-panel speakers with an option for rear wireless audio, subwoofer and 32-bit digital amplifier. The DAV-FX900W (around $900 and available in May), like the DAV-LF1H also has the optional rear wireless audio and sports as its package four floor-standing speakers, a center channel speaker, subwoofer, XM Satellite Radio compatibility and a five-disc DVD/CD/SA-CD player.

Other new Sony home theater systems include the DAV-FX500 DVD Dream System (around $600 and available in May), which features two floor-standing front speakers with nano-fine tweeters and a five-disc DVD/CD/SACD player, the DAV-DX375 (around $400 and available in April), which has an integrated DVD player and two tall speaker stands, and the HT-7000DH (around $500 and available in April), which includes a five-disc DVD/CD player with 720p/1080i HDMI upscaling and two-way front speakers with wood-grain cabinets.

Sony also introduced three new A/V receivers, all of which sport audio auto calibration technology. The STR-DG800 (around $400 ? available in April) is a 7.1 model which offers up 110 watts per channel, HDMI connectivity, XM satellite radio compatibility and assignable component video inputs. The STR-DG500 ($200 ? available this month), a 6.1 model, and the 7.1 channel STR-DG600 ($300 ? available this month) also offer 110 watts per channel in addition to two optical inputs, component video switching and, in the case of the STR-DG600, XM compatibility.

For hi-fi component system lovers, Sony looked to impress with announcements about seven new configurations. The CMT-HPR99XM (around $200) and MHC-GX570XM (around $250), both of which will be available in April, are XM Satellite Radio ready and have an audio line in for portable audio devices. The latter model includes a hybrid dual woofer and 460W of total power output, while the former incorporates a five-CD changer.

The MHC-LX10000 (around $400), also available in April, is a 520W system which allows MP3 playback with a MP3 sound booster and bass enhancement technology. It also has a unique air intake design that cools the amplifier to allow higher power output. Also from the MHC line up are the compact 400W MHC-GX470 (April ? around $200) and 320W MHC-EC70 (available now for around $150) models.

Other CMT Hi-Fi component systems, besides the CMT-HPR99XM, also include the CMT-HPR90 (April ? around $180), which features a five CD changer and MP3 playback), and the 100W CMT-DX2D shelf system (April ? around $200), which incorporates DVD and CD playback.

Sony CMT-HPR90
Sony CMT-HPR90

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In the realm of boomboxes, Sony was out to prove this product line wasn?t a passing thing as it showcased several new models. Of these, the ZS-H10CP (April ? around $130) stood out for its rugged design and construction as well as line in input. Also of note was the CFD-G505 (this month ? around $100) and its 200mm power drive woofer. This boombox has 20W total RMS, an illuminated indicator when the woofer is engaged and CD-R/RW playback capability.

Of Sony?s announcements related to clock radios, the only one worth noting is their new ICF-M1000 (around $150 ? available this month). Also known simply as ?The Radio?, this contemporary looking design sports a white, back-lit prismatic LCD display set against a gloss black textured cabinet. It has a FM/AM tuner and monaural base reflex speaker, among other features.

Sony ICF-M1000

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