Sony: Blu-Ray DVD Player Due By Mid-2006

Sony’s big CES keynote doesn’t happen until Thursday, but the company let slip its North American product line plans for 2006 on Wednesday, including a Blu-Ray DVD player due by mid-year, a 46-inch version of its Bravia LCD television, and a hard disk-based camcorder and a 46-inch Bravia LCD television.

Sony plans to begin offering a Blu-Ray DVD player in the American market by mid-year; the players will debut in the Japanese market, and Sony is likely holding off an American release both to ramp up its production capacity but also to enable Hollywood movie studios to prepare Blu-Ray content to be available at the products’ launch. The delay will let some of Sony’s Blu-Ray consortium partners beat them to the punch: Pioneer says it plans to get its own $1,800 BDP-HD1 Blu-Ray player to market in June, 2006.

Sony’s Bravia flat-panel televisions were apparently a hit over the 2005 end-of-year buying season, and now Sony is upping the ante with a new 46-inch version supporting 1080p HDTV.

Also shown off (but with no pricing or release date details): the Sony DCR-SR100 Handycam hard drive-based camcorder, a first for the company. The DCR-SR100 sports a 3 megapixel imager, 5.1 Dolby Surround audio recording, a 2.7-inch LCD screen, and a built-in 30 GB hard disk. The camera supports an optional Bluetooth wireless microphone for the center surround channel (traditionally where dialog gets parked in surround mixes), and wireless PictBridge compatibility.