Sony crammed two events together in Las Vegas this week: its annual product showcase and its press event before the start of the annual PMA International photo/imaging expo. Here members of the press and camera reviewers test out some of Sony's latest offerings in the ballroom of the Paris Las Vegas hotel.
For the scuba-and-snorkel set, Sony announced several new underwater housings for its digital Cyber-shot compact cameras. These housings generally cost about $230 for models that will protect cameras to depths of 132 feet and $75 for the pool-oriented models that work only to a depth of 5 feet.
The $200 SPK-WB housing for Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-W290 camera works at depths of up to 10 feet. It includes a silicone jacket case that you can leave around the camera to protect it from scratches and bangs even when it's not in the underwater housing.
The ZS-E5 boombox unveiled here is a bit of an oddity. Instead of slapping on an iPod dock like most of today's portable speaker systems, this little toadstool-esque music box keeps things simple with a CD player, aux input, and AM/FM radio. The CD player works with CD-R/RW discs and includes an LED track number display and large buttons. It will be available in April for $40.
Usually the Sony Line Show is brimming with brand-new Bravias. This year, however, we saw most of Sony's new TVs at CES. The exception is the W-series of flat panels. The electronics giant showed off the Yahoo Widgets-packing 52-inch KDL-52W5100, 46-inch KDL-46W5100, and 40-inch KDL-40W5100. Neither pricing nor availability beyond "spring" was released.
The company announced two new home-theater-in-a-box systems with built-in Blu-ray players, the BDV-E300 ($600) and BDV-E500W ($800). When they ship in June, these new models will replace the more expensive, current lineup, consisting of the BDV-IS1000 ($1,000) and BDV-IT1000ES ($2,000).
Both of the new systems incorporate full-featured profile 2.0 Blu-ray players that can send the latest BD soundtracks, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio, out over the included speakers (or out an HDMI port via LPCM or bitstream).
At PMA, Sony is showing these six prototype lenses, including a supertelephoto and 28-75mm f2.8 zoom, that are geared for full-frame cameras such as Sony's Alpha A900. The others, for the mainstream SLRs with smaller sensors, are a 50mm f1.8, 30mm f2.8 macro, 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 zoom, and 55-200m f4-5.6 zoom.
Shigeki Ishizuka, president of Sony's digital imaging business group, touted Sony's in-house expertise in camera lenses, image sensors, and image processors. The company started building electronic image sensors in 1978 and, in January, manufactured its 1 billionth, he said.
Sony's new Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 will incorporate several technologies from its Alpha digital SLR products, including a 1/2.4-inch 10-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor (for 9-megapixel images) and a 20X f2.8-5.2 28-560mm-equivalent optically stabilized lens based on the company's higher-quality G series lenses.
In theory, the combination should deliver better photo quality than is generally seen in this class. Price is set at $499 when it ships in mid-April.