Crave has just spent a rather pleasant couple of days playing with the very best products Sony is planning on releasing in the next few months. As you can see from the picture, it took place in the idyllic Brit-fest location of Rhodes, with hundreds of attendees from all over the world.
Click through our photos for the highlights of what we saw, from TVs with built in high-def tuners to the new UK Blu-ray player, via a spot of wireless and a touch of sat-nav.
Sony had this pimped-out car on show to demonstrate its TomTom this year with a big advertising campaign pushing its flagship U82 and U92T high-end models, which boast gargantuan 122mm (4.8-inch) widescreens.. It's planning a huge assault on
This is the U52, a sub-£200 sat nav with a unique selling point -- the cradle folds up. Sony told us that many cars are being broken into at the moment because, even though the owners have taken their TomTom with them, thieves see the sat-nav cradle and assume there's something valuable inside. This way, you can remove any evidence when you leave the car.
In between meetings, Crave had the chance to relax in the 'HD hub' -- a place we tested out the quality of the hi-def televisions and absolutely, definitely, not fall asleep.
Sony adopted a risky strategy when demonstrating the new-- it showed us how bad its previous range of tellies was. They use a technology that Sony dubs 'Motionflow' that's designed to give a smoother picture. The technology adds in extra frames to even out the judder you sometimes see on LCD TVs.
It sounds like the sort of voodoo that doesn't work, but the Sony demo impressed us. It placed the new TV next to one of its older models -- as the picture panned along a line of boats, we could read the names on the sides on the D3000, but not on the others, which looked pretty blurred.
We also got a look at an early design of an upcoming TV with a built-in high-definition tuner. The as yet unnamed model will debut before the end of the year and will let us watch Freeview in hi-def without a decoder box, should a hi-def Freeview service ever be launched in the UK.
Blu-ray was much in evidence at the Rhodes event, and we were treated to an impressive demo of themodel for the UK that used the highest quality projector, screen and audio system that Sony could get its hands on. The big chase sequence at the start of Casino Royale looked better than when we went to see the film at the Odeon in Leicester Square, London, but we do have a couple of reservations about the player.
Firstly, there's no BD Live support, which means you can't connect to the Internet and access new content such as up-to-date film trailers, biographies and so on. This isn't Sony's fault, as the standard hasn't been agreed yet, so none of the current Blu-ray players support this. But what is bad is that even once the standard is agreed, you won't be able to upgrade this player to support BD Live, as there's no network port. Not good for something that's going to cost about £900.
Our other issue is that Sony won't confirm which version of HDMI the player uses -- other than to say that it's 'not 1.3'. When Sony's own cheaper, Blu-ray playing PlayStation 3 does support HDMI 1.3, that's not a positive thing.
One of the reasons the S1E is so expensive is its bomb-proof construction. The case is unusually sturdy for a disc-based machine, as you can see from this picture. It's all designed to eliminate vibration, keeping the picture as good as possible. Oh, and ours can playback CDs, unlike the US version.
That small box in the corner is the TDM-NC1, a Wi-Fi music streamer. It connects to certain newer Sony home-cinema systems via a new proprietary port called DMPORT.
You get some PC streaming software in the box -- simply install it on your machine and it streams tunes to the brick. You can use the remote control from your home-cinema system to control it.
Unfortunately, the screen is way too small, especially when compared to a similar product such as the Squeezebox 3 that's been around for ages. It'll cost about £140 when it arrives this summer, which isn't too bad.
The convention centre the event was held at was massive -- this was just the entrance hall.