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Sony buffs Bravia LCD lineup

Sony announced 17 new Bravia flat-panel LCD HDTVs at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show.

Sony's KDL-V4100 series represents the least expensive 1080p models in the company's lineup. Sony

Although Toshiba's 20-model announcement takes the cake for sheer flat-panel LCD quantity so far at CES, Sony's surprise decision to divulge details on its own Bravia LCD sets at the show--17 in all--come pretty close. Usually "The Big 'S'" waits until its dedicated Las Vegas line show in February to announce anything substantive regarding its television plans for the year, but for whatever reason the big Bravia news comes early. While Sony did deign to announce an availability of "spring," unlike Toshiba it did not see fit to mention any pricing.

Features shared across many of the models include compatibility with a couple of Sony's proprietary add-ons, including the vaunted Bravia Internet Video Link, or B.I.V.L.--for which Sony today announced a partnership with CBS--and the line of DMP-branded dongles and accessories, such as the TDM-IP1. Sony also redesigned the user interface, calling the new one "3D," and threw a USB port on a few of the models. Now, on to the details.

Sony's 19-inch entry-level LCD. Sony

The entry-level KDL-M4000 series includes three models, including the 19-inch KDL-19M4000 (1440x900 resolution), the 26-inch KDL-26M4000, the 32-inch KDL-32M4000 and the 37-inch KDL-37M4000. Aside from the 19-incher, each model features 720p, er, 1,366x768, native resolution.

The KDL-N4000 series is "designed with audio in mind" and also has 720p resolution. It boasts three models, the 26-inch KDL-26N4000, the 32-inch KDL-32N4000 and the 37-inch KDL-37N4000. The two larger models feature integrated 5.1-channel audio, while the smaller one has 3.1-channel audio with full-range speakers and a subwoofer built into the matching stand.

Sony's KDL-XBR6 series was announced in smaller screen sizes. Sony

Next up is a pair of KDL-XBR6 models at the 32- and 37-inch screen sizes. In addition to new styling, the KDL-32XBR6 and the KDL-37XBR6 offer the new 3-D GUI and compatibility with the B.I.V.L. Each has 1080p resolution.

Larger 1080p models start with the KDL-V4100 series, including the 40-inch KDL-40V4100, the 46-inch KDL-46V4100 and the 52-inch KDL-52V4100. Features include four HDMI inputs (compatible with both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 sources), as well as 1080p/60 component video and PC inputs along with a USB port for digital photos and music.

The KDL-W4100 series is the first to add the 120Hz technology that we felt performed so well in our review of the company's KDL-46XBR4, and includes identical screen sizes with its 40-inch KDL-40W4100, 46-inch KDL-46W4100 and 52-inch KDL-52W4100.

The features crown among Sony's 2008 CES LCD HDTV announcements belongs to the KDL-Z4100 series. Just two screen sizes are available in this series, the 40-inch KDL-40Z4100 and the 46-inch KDL-46Z4100. They improve upon the KDL-W4100 models by adding a better backlight, 10-bit processing on a 10-bit panel, and compatibility with x.v.Color sources. We're dubious these improvements will be worth the extra cost over the W models, but we'll reserve final judgment for an in-depth review.