Sony recently hosted their annual line show in Las Vegas to showcase their new 2007 product lines. The company, struggling to keep top tier market share as it battles the likes of Apple and Microsoft in various vertical CE spaces, had some flair going as they unveiled new televisions, home A/V equipment, digital cameras, digital voice recorders, personal audio systems and more. This collection of new products is of course designed to capture your dollar and hopefully continue to brighten the somewhat diminished Sony consumer electronics star.
The Energy Link: Sony Does Portable USB Power
One of the more interesting offerings from Sony interestingly enough was one of their smallest announced products. The CP-3H2K Energy Link ($35 – early summer release) is powered off of two AA rechargeable batteries and fully charges itself within three hours. When fully charged it is designed to serve triple duty as a power adaptor, portable power supply and battery charger for many USB compatible MP3 players, mobile phones and other USB-powered devices.
The Sony Energy Link
Bluetooth Car Stereo: Keeping Both Hands on the Wheel
In an effort to keep the wandering eyes and hands of drivers on the road and not the stereo, Sony unveiled the MEX-BT2500 AM/FM CD receiver ($180 – March release). This receiver does double duty as a CD player and wireless streaming device, incorporating Bluetooth technology so you can conduct various wireless functions like making hands-free telephone calls via an integrated microphone or streaming music from select music mobile phones and digital music players. The MEX-BT2500 delivers 52 watts across four channels and has a front auxiliary input for hooking up a device such as a Sony MP3 player.
The Sony MEX-BT2500
Blu-ray Disc Player: Done Less Expensively the Second Time Around
Perhaps realizing not too many people were willing to shell out top dollar for a Blu-ray Disc player, Sony unveiled the BDP-S300 ($600 – summer release). This second Blu-ray Disc player from the main pusher of Blu-ray Disc technology can output 1080p resolution through an HDMI connection and supports BD-ROM, BD-Java, AVC-HD and DVD playback from DVD/DVD+R/+RW encoded discs. This is in addition to CD playback, as well as MP3 audio files and JPEG images stored on DVD recordable media. For standard DVDs, the BDP-S300 is capable of upscaling the image quality to 1080p when connected through HDMI to a compatible HDTV. It is also capable of decoding Dolby Digital Plus, among various audio features.
BRAVIA Televisions: One of Sony’s Core Strengths
Sony, even though they’ve lost market share in select CE markets, continues to be a dominate force in televisions. Their 2007 BRAVIA (Best Resolution Audio Visual Integrated Architecture) line up continues to show why. At the top of the heap of seven announced flat-panel LCD HDTVs are the 46-inch, 1080p KDL-46V3000 and 46-inch, 720p KDL-46S3000. These models, depending upon the specific V or S series they fall under, offer features like an icon-based, on-screen menu system for navigating through program selections, up-conversion of 480i video signals to near HD-like picture quality, HDMI inputs, HD component inputs and one-button control of external components connected via an HDMI cable.
A step down from the flat-panel LCD HDTVs is Sony’s BRAVIA 3LCD micro-display models. Sony was crowing that for 2007 they’d been able to design cabinets for these models that are around 22 percent slimmer than previous Sony Grand WEGA projection TVs. Typical of this product selection is the 50-inch, 1080p KDF-50E3000. This model, sporting the largest screen size of the three micro-display models announced, has features like two HDMI inputs, various picture performance technologies, three component inputs and integration of the operation of the television with external components connected via an HDMI cable.
Both the flat-panels and the micro-displays are compatible with another product Sony unveiled. The BRAVIA Internet Video Link ($300 – July release date) is a module which attaches to the television and lets one view Internet video programming, including high-definition content, from providers like AOL, Yahoo! and Grouper, as well as Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony BMG Music. An Ethernet connection will provide the link to the Internet and a personal comptuer will not be required for connectivity or content management.
Surround Sound Receivers: HD Friendly and iPod Lover
Sony, with their well established name in the range of A/V receivers, unveiled four receivers which have some type of HDMI support. At the high end of this line-up is the 7.1-channel, STR-DG910 ($500 – April release date). This receiver, sporting 110 watts of power per channel, offers an array of features including a technology for automatically detecting and receiving optimal video and audio signals from connected HDMI devices (i.e. 1080p-enabled BRAVIA televisions), a special “Digital Media Port” for supporting additional music source types (see next paragraph), integrated operation of compatible HDMI sources like BRAVIA televisions, simplified surround sound setup and XM Satellite Radio compatibility.
With regards to the Digital Media Port built into these new Sony A/V receivers Sony was showing off a number of accessories which plug into this port to add support for additional music source types. These accessories include a Bluetooth audio adapter to accept audio from Bluetooth-enabled devices (TDM-BT1 Bluetooth Wireless Audio Adapter – March release date – $80), a wireless network audio adapter for wireless streaming of music from a PC (TDM-NC1 Wireless Network Audio Adapter – June release date – $200) and cradles for select Network Walkman (TDM-NW1 Network Walkman Cradle – March release date – $50) and iPod (TDM-iP1 iPod Cradle – May release date – $100) digital music players. The cradles support the players’ audio and video playback capabilities and offer onscreen navigation.
Home Theater Stand: Just Add a Television
Amongst a gaggle of new home theater systems announced by Sony, one which stood out the most because of its unique design is the RHT-G800 (May release date – $1,000). This home theater system is actually built into a television stand designed to accommodate a high end television such as a BRAVIA LCD. The RGT-G800 sports dual 1080p capable HDMI inputs and one output. Also built into this system is concealed 5.1 channel surround sound speaker package, support for Dolby Digital and DTS encoded content, two component video inputs, three A/V inputs and one output, four digital audio inputs (three optical, one coaxial) and four analog audio inputs.
Bluetooth Personal Audio Systems: Wireless Music Enjoyment
Besides making wireless Bluetooth technology an add-on for Digital Media Port enabled A/V receivers, Sony is offering up for 2007 a line of micro component systems with built-in Bluetooth support. Typical of this line-up is the high end CMT-DH7BT (April release date – $300). This micro system use stereo Bluetooth technology with Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) to deliver better quality wireless sound from devices like Bluetooth-enabled digital music players and phones. It can also do things like play MP3 files on CDs while reading ID3 tags so the artist and album information will show up on the display, an AM/FM tuner, satellite radio support and DVD playback.
On the portable side of Bluetooth enabled personal audio systems Sony was showcasing the ZS-BT1 (August release date – $150). This wireless boombox can play CDs and digital music from wired or compatible Bluetooth wireless devices, while a two-line dot matrix LCD screen displays information such as album and artist name. Other features include bass enhancement, AM/FM presets and a remote control.
Digital Cameras: Snapping the Night Away
Sony was busy at their 2007 line show with regards to digital cameras, announcing seven different cameras, some in multiple colors, across three product lines. The on-the-go nightlife crowd is being targeted with new entries in the Cyber-shot T Series. Typical of this grouping is the eight-megapixel DSC-T100 (March release date – $400). This stylish camera, complete with a Carl Zeiss 5x optical zoom lens and three-inch LCD screen, is less than half-an-inch thick, features HD picture output, sports face detection technology for better pictures and has on-board picture editing options.
Keeping with the slim digital camera theme Sony was also showing off their Cybershot-W series. The high end model in this family is the compact, 12-megapixel DSC-W200 (May release date – $400). Available in a silver body color, the DSC-W200 has a Carl Zeiss 3x optical zoom lenses, a traditional, eye-level viewfinder and a large 2.5-inch LCD screen. Other features include HD component output, face technology detection, multi-point auto focus, optical image stabilization and selectable in-camera editing functions.
Sony DSC-W200 in Pink
Rounding out Sony’s digital camera announcements were some new Cyber-shot super zoom models. The higher end model, known as the DSC-H9 (April release date – $480), has eight-megapixels and a Carl Zeiss 15x optical zoom lenses for up-close shots. Another standout feature is the sports shooting mode, which combines high shutter speed shooting and intelligent continuous auto-focusing. Other features include HD output, optical image stabilization, a three-inch flip up LCD screen, night photo taking enhancement technology, in camera editing functions and ISO 3200 sensitivity.