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Sony makes push for 3D at CES

The electronics and entertainment giant announces a slew of new products utilizing the 3D theme, from TVs and Blu-ray players to laptops and game titles.

Audience members at Sony's press event donned 3D glasses for much of the presentation. James Martin/CNET

Sony has one major focus for the near future and that's 3D.

The entertainment and electronics giant previewed a slew of new 3D-compatible products this evening during the company's keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The 3D theme transcends the company's line of products, from TVs and Blu-ray players to laptops and game titles.

Sony kicked off the event with a dramatic 3D demonstration, featuring a long clip from Sony's forthcoming 3D movie "The Green Hornet." Sony Chairman Howard Stringer was then delivered on stage in the Green Hornet's car by the stars of the action movie, Seth Rogan and Jay Chou.

Howard Stringer at Sony's press event Wednesday evening. James Martin/CNET

Stringer--while still wearing his 3D glasses--predicted that 50 million TVs in U.S. homes would be Internet-connected via Sony products, including TV, Blu-ray players, and PlayStation consoles, by March. Calling 3D "more than a scientific gimmick," Stringer predicted that 2011 would be "a year in which 3D becomes personal."

One of the ways Stringer intends to get into U.S. homes is via a new 3D channel called 3Net, which will launch in the coming months and feature 24/7 3D content.

Stringer then introduced Sony VP Hiroshi Yoshioka, who took the stage to talk about some of the products Sony has in the works. He promised a 3D-compatible Vaio and handicams. He also showed off a prototype head-mounted display for watching movies and a prototype glasses-less 3D Blu-ray player that resembled a portable DVD player.

"[There is no] timetable set for commercialization of any of these products," he said. "We just want you to know these are on our radar."

Moving on to Sony's plans for TV, Stringer returned to the stage to talk about "TV redefined."

"Our aim is to redefine the way consumers interact with television," Stringer said. "Marriage of the television and Internet" is upon us, adding that it's "clear consumers are ready for it."

Sony announces 3D camcorder. James Martin/CNET

Phil Molyneux, the new head of Sony electronics in the U.S., said we can expect 27 new Bravias with Internet connectivity and 3D capability. The TVs will be capable of receiving all live and on-demand Time Warner Cable content without the need for a set-top box. The EX620 Bravia TV series will feature an LED backlit display, Internet connection, slim form factor, and access to Qriocity, Sony's media platform (more on that below).

What he called Sony's flagship TV, the DKL-55HX929 is a 55-inch TV that is 3D- and 2D-capable with full HD and should be on retail shelves in March. It will also come in a 46-inch model.

Other products he announced:

  • A new 3D Blu-ray player, the BDP-S780, has built-in WiFi, DLNA, and Skype for video calls through your TV.
  • The Vaio F Series laptop is 3D-capable, though you have to wear plastic active shutter glasses to get the effect.
  • A 3D camcorder called the Handycam HDR-TD10 featuring two lenses (naturally), two Exmor R sensors, and two image processors.
  • The Bloggie, the Flip-like camera, returns with 3D video capabilities and 5.1MP photos. The 3D display on this camera is also glasses-free.
  • A new Cybershot point-and-shoot that takes full HD video as well as 3D video. You can actually take photos while you're shooting video, he said. They also include Sony's sweep panorama feature for taking panoramic photos, something they introduced here last year.

Steve Walker from Sony Ericsson took the stage to talk about smartphones, unveiling the Experia Arc, a thin phone that features Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

And Kaz Hirai, Sony Computer Entertainment's CEO and president, continued the 3D theme by promising native 3D gaming for TVs and offered a preview of Uncharted 3, which is expected to hit retail shelves in November.

In the mobile sector, Hirai said we could expect some "significant" products in the very near future. He said there would be video, music, book, and game content on a "wide range" of Sony devices in the coming year.

A new cloud-streaming service, Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity, which has access to 6 million songs from all the major labels, will be added to some Sony TVs, Blu-ray players, PS3s, and Vaio PCs this year, he said. "It's an extension of the music you already own," he added.

Hide Nishino from Sony Entertainment demonstrated how the service would work using a PS3 controller.

Notably missing from the games portion of the keynote was any word on when we could expect a new PlayStation Portable.

CNET's Erica Ogg contributed to this report from Las Vegas.