Sony Drops New LCD TVs, AV Receivers

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At this week’s CEDIA expo in Denver, electronics maker Sony unveiled two new high-definition 52-inch Bravia LCD televisions and new 1080p-capable AV receivers designed to serve as centerpieces of both audiophile and home theater fans’ dreams.

First, Sony’s two new 52-inch Braivia LCD televisions—the KDL-52XBR2 and KDL-52XBR3—sport the Bravia “floating glass” design (which, really, fails to ispire thoughts of safety during earthquakes, but who are we to argue with style?) and offer full 1080p (1,920 by 1,080 pixel) resolution for the best in high-definition. Both units feature three HDMI inputs, native contrast ratios of 1,300:1 (cranked to 7,000:1 by Sony’s Advanced Contrast Enhancer technology), plus Sony’s Bravia Engine Pro digital image processing system, Sony’s Live Color Creation technology, and a built-in ATSC tuner, a PC input, two high-definition component inputs, one S-video input, and three composite inputs. The main differences between the units? The 52XBR3 is black, and the 52XBR2 is silver…oh, and the silver one is $300 cheaper at $6,500. (We’ll let you do the math to figure out the price of the black model. Expect then to be available in November 2006.

In addition, Sony rolled out two new “ES” AV receivers—where “ES” stands for “Elevated Standard”—offering support for 1080p video sources. The new STR-DA5200ES features te debut of Sony’s Cross Media Bar-inspired icon-based menu system for configuration and setup, while the more-affordable STR-DA3200ES enables pass-through for 1080p sources and caters to the market who’s more likely to hook everything up once and live with the results rather than move through menus just to look at pretty icons.

The STR-DA5200ES incorporates the Faroudja DCDi Cinema upscaler, which lets the unit upscale connected video sources to 1080p for display, as well as downscale video for monitoring multiple sources, including multi-zone functions and even surveillance; Sony characterizes the unit as the “most powerful video performing A/V receiver on the market.” The unit also offers picture-in-picture source monitoring and automatic, 30-second speaker calibration, 7.1 channel audio with 120 watts for each channel, upscaling for S-video, component, and composite sources, and features built-in support for XM Satellite Radio Connect and Play and XM Neural 5.1 surround stations. “This receiver was designed with what we call the Full HD 1080 experience in mind, upscaling any source to 1080p, along with the addition of a clever new interface,” said Jeff Goldstein, Sony Electronics’ Home Products Division VP of marketing.

And they’re really pushing the interface: the Cross Media Bar-inspired system ca be displayed onscreen in HD either through the HDMI or component connections, or in standard definition via S-video or composite hookups. Each connected source can be identified by icon, and inputs can be assigned and named using an onscreen keyboard and built-in icons. The interface also provides descriptions and definitions of functions and terms as users scroll over the icons, and hides advanced operations away for safer navigation when toggling between settings. Expect it in October for about $1,500.

Don’t need the pretty icons? The STR-DA3200ES offers the same 120-watt 7.1 audio support and two assignable HDMI, component, and optical connections with active intelligence witching and support for up to eight channels of uncompressed audio. The unit offers multi-channel surround-source setup, text-based onscreen configuration display, multi-room function for two-channel setups, and XM Satellite Radio Connect and Play support. What’s missing? No upscaling. The STR-DA3200ES will happily pass along and display 1080p content, but it’s not going to convert, say, terrestrial HD broadcasts to 1080p just so you can say you’re doing that. However, the price tag is just $900, and it should be available this month.

Curious what else Sony showed at CEDIA? (Hint: more LCD displays, some affordable to mere mortals.) Check out their showcase pages.

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