This year's SXRDs will come in two flavors: the entry-level KDS-A2000 line and the step-up KDS-RXBR2 line, which Sony is calling SXRD XBR (forgive me, but that's an Rx for confusion if I ever saw one). The main difference between the two TVs is in their speaker arrangements: the entry-level models will have speakers on the bottom, while the step-up XBRs will sport side-mounted speakers, similar to last year's models. In the 70-inch version only, you can also remove the side speakers if you want a slimmer look (unlike I indicated previously, the 60-inch model's side speakers are fixed). Although Sony showed a slim SXRD at CES in January, the new models' depths aren't any shallower than usual; the 55-incher, for example, measures 19 inches deep, hardly wall-hangable.
The XBR sets also feature an extra front-mounted HDMI port for a total of three (unlike last year, all HDMI inputs on the 2006 SXRDs can handle 1080p); a CableCard slot with a TV Guide EPG; and a supposedly superior version of Sony's video processing, known as DRC-MFV2.5. The non-XBR sets have an extra component-video input on the front panel, for a total of three. We expect the two lines to offer nearly identical performance, which, if last year's models are any indication, should be pretty darn good.
July 7th, 2006 update: I'd originally complained about the relatively high prices of the A2000 series, but Sony has since lowered the expected street prices on those models by about $700, and instituted earlier shipping dates (see below). At its new price of $2,800 the 50-inch SXRD, for example, compares favorably with Samsung's entry-level 50-inch 1080p DLP, the HL-S5087W. Pricing on the step-up XBR2 series has not changed as far as we know. Of course we'll reserve final judgment on all of these TVs until we've had a chance to test them in person. There's no substitute for a real review, but in the meantime, we can give you a real chart.
|Screen size||50 inches||55 inches||60 inches||60 inches||70 inches|
|Available||August||August||August||Early fall||Early fall|
|Native resolution||1,920x1,080 (1080p)||1,920x1,080 (1080p)||1,920x1,080 (1080p)||1,920x1,080 (1080p)||1,920x1,080 (1080p)|
|Display technology||SXRD (LCoS)||SXRD (LCoS)||SXRD (LCoS)||SXRD (LCoS)||SXRD (LCoS)|
|1080p via HDMI?||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|CableCard w/TVG EPG||N||N||N||Y||Y|