Sony's release follows Mitsubishi, which earlier this month also delivered a small number of its WebTV Plus models to the public. WebTV had said in November that WebTV Plus would be available in limited supplies for the holiday season.
Last week, Sony kicked off the arrival of the new terminal, called Sony WebTV Plus, at Dow Stereo, a Southern California electronics retailer. The new version is available at select Good Guys, Circuit City, and Sony stores nationwide for a suggested retail price of $199, after a $100 mail-in rebate.
According to Tom Campbell, corporate director for Dow Stereo, Sony WebTV Plus has been a very popular item with holiday shoppers so far.
"We thought we had ample supply," Campbell said. "But we sold out of our supply in less than three hours."
Mitsubishi's WB-2000 also sold well upon its debut. A source close to the Good Guys, one of the few retailers initially handling the Mitsubishi product, had 300 of the units and sold them out quickly.
Sony's WebTV Plus features a 1.1GB hard drive, 56-kbps modem using Rockwell's K56flex technology, a built-in MTS Stereo TV Tuner, support for Hewlett-Packard printers, and an Internet-based word processing and a Web-authoring tool from Inergy.
Additionally, users of WebTV Plus can switch between full-screen TV, full-screen Web browsing, and picture-in-picture TV and Internet displays.
In other WebTV news, MCI announced a new WebTV introductory pricing plan, called "WebTV from MCI Internet."
The plan will offer WebTV Internet access at an introductory rate of $14.95 per month for four months, provided that customers pick up MCI as their long distance carrier. MCI customers will continue to enjoy that rate after the four-month trial period ends, while other customers will be charged $19.95 per month after the trial period.