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Sony mum on new SXRD HDTVs, but rumors percolate

Sony mum on new SXRD HDTVs, but rumors percolate

In a disappointment for prospective HDTV buyers awaiting the next big thing, Sony's Vegas line show today did not have any specific information on the company's 2006 roster of SXRD televisions. The highly regarded 2005 SXRD line, which includes the best-performing HDTV that CNET reviewed last year, was not upstaged by any announcements Sony is making today. I'm sure that Sony's decision to omit details on new SXRDs from its official line show has a lot to do with protecting sales of the 2005 models, as well as with reacting to pricing on competitors' (namely DLP) sets.

The company did issue a teaser press release on new Full HD sets, which included the following crumbs: "Due to ship in the second half of 2006, there will be various models with 1,920x1,080 display resolution and some products capable of 1080p input" and that the "newly designed SXRD line will offer screen sizes from 50 to 70 inches."

Apparently, Sony had to tell its dealers more than that, and a few of them leaked information about the 2006 SXRD models to Web forums, including CNET (which has since removed the post at the poster's request) and AVS Forum. These leaks indicate that there will be two series of 2006 SXRDs, one designated S2000 and including 50-, 55-, and 60-inch models, and the other the traditional Sony step-up XBR line, with 60- and 70-inch models. The leaks say that suggested pricing for the S2000 line will be $3,000 to $4,000, depending on size, and that all five SXRD models will accept 1080p sources via HDMI (something few current 1080p HDTVs can do). Rumors of smaller sizes, including 40- and a 46-inch models, have also been floated. Please note that none of this information has been officially confirmed by Sony.

I checked out Sony's prototype 55-inch SXRD at CES, which the company was touting as being thinner than its predecessors. I expect that when the new models appear--Sony released the 2005 SXRDs in September of that year--they will indeed be somewhat thinner than the 2005 models and that the company will do away with the wide, side-mounted speakers, at least on some iterations. After that, it's all just speculation until Sony deigns to tell us more. We'll see.

Sony did announce three new microdisplay HDTVs that use standard LCD technology rather than SXRD.