Sony LCD Flat Panel HDTVs
Sony may be down, but not defeated. The Tokyo giant recently introduced two new flat panel high-definition televisions, a 32" and a 42" model - said to be the world's largest integrated high-definition flat-panel LCD televisions. The new 32" KDL-32XBR950 and 42" KDL-42XBR950 boast a 170-degree viewing angle. Their introduction brings to nine the number of Sony WEGA LCD TVs now available. Both are part of the esteemed XBR line. Sony also has added a 50" plasma to its WEGA lineup, the KE-50XS910. The three flat panel sets include the "advanced WEGA Engine system" for "dynamic contrast and sharpness" and a variety of picture enhancement features intended to please the most demanding home theater and HDTV enthusiasts. A "Block Noise Smoother" function minimizes video noise from 480p sources such as DVD players and satellite receivers using MPEG2 compression.
The new XBR LCD televisions include ATSC/QAM high-def tuners, NTSC analog tuners, and a unique feature called "Twin View Picture-And-Picture" said to allow users to watch high-definition and analog programs simultaneously.
Sony's move into the large-screen flat-panel market is a response to the market's rampant enthusiasm for the technologies, according to Sony Home Products division senior v.p. Tim Baxter. "The introduction of these high-definition XBR LCD WEGA models clearly demonstrates the rapidly increasing demand for flat-panel television," Baxter said. "Consumers look to Sony for the latest in television technology and outstanding picture quality. All three sets deliver the latest technology and the ultimate picture performance with the Sony proprietary WEGA Engine system. Our goal is to provide the widest choice of screen sizes and display technology." Sony's flat panels range from 15" to 61" diagonally. The 42" LCD sets have detachable speakers for greater installation flexibility.
The KE-50XS910 incorporates many of the XBR-series features, including a re-engineered plasma panel driver, the WEGA Engine system, Memory Stick media playback, and DVI-HDTV connection. Onboard audio features include "twin surround audio system." All upscale Sony televisions include an assortment of picture-improving technology, including "Direct Digital II" circuitry that optimizes incoming signals to minimize unwanted video artifacts; "Digital Reality Creation MultiFunction" circuitry that bit-maps any NTSC source to "create a picture that rivals high definition;" and "MID-X" (Multi Image Driver) circuitry that displays high-definition and conventional pictures for the ultimate picture-and-picture performance. Sony's CineMotion reverse 3:2 pulldown circuitry is claimed to derive the best results from film-based sources. New XBR LCD models have a proprietary panel driver LSI (Large Scale Integrated circuit) that reduces blurring in fast action scenes by improving the LCD's response rate.
Other improvements in the new flat panels include DVI-HDTV (Digital Visual Interface) connection; high quality i.LINK digital interface for D-VHS support; advanced Memory Stick media slot for JPEG still images, MPEG video and MP3 audio playback; and five sets of A/V inputs (3 composite, 2 component).
Pricing and availability: The KDL-42XBR950 and KDL-32XBR950 LCD models will be available in January for about $10,000 and $5,500, respectively, while the KE-50XS910 plasma TV will be available this winter for about $10,000.