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Sony XBR9 HDTVs up interactive ante with widgets

New series of Sony LCD TVs include Internet connectivity featuring onscreen apps that provide real-time information such as weather reports.

The 32-inch KDL-32XBR9, along with larger XBR9 models, get Yahoo widgets. Sony

Sony's first 2009 series of XBR models, three letters that signify higher-end features and performance in the company's TV oeuvre, is equipped with "widgets" courtesy of Yahoo.

Described as "Internet applications...that deliver real-time information" in the press release, the widgets "expand and personalize the TV experience by adding onscreen applications that provide such real-time information as weather reports, stock ticker updates, financial news, Yahoo Video, Flickr images, and additional content."

The XBR9 series consists of four sizes: the 52-inch KDL-52XBR9, the 46-inch KDL-46XBR9, the 40-inch KDL-40XBR9, and the 32-inch KDL-32XBR9. Prices were not divulged, as usual, and availability details were limited to "spring."

Each of the sizes has identical features except for the 32-incher. Among other differences, the smallest XBR9 has a 120Hz refresh rate as opposed to the 240Hz rate used on the larger sets, a different Bravia video processor, and lacks the Internet-powered TV Guide Onscreen. The latter feature, found on the three larger sets, should be an improvement over the standard TV Guide, and we're looking forward to testing it.

All models include a fluorescent backlight (as opposed to the LED-backlit XBR8 series from 2008), so we expect performance of the three larger XBR9 models to be similar to that of the 240Hz Sony KDL-52XBR7 we reviewed last year.

The company's lower-end Z-series sets also include widgets. The major differences between the Z-series and the XBR9 series will be styling- and price-based. According to Sony, the XBR9 models also feature a wider color gamut backlight, but we doubt that will be obvious to most viewers.

Other features common to the line include four HDMI inputs, a PC input, and an improved XMB-style interface. Interactive features aside from widgets include compatibility with the company's Bravia Internet Video Link and improved DLNA capability over the 2008 models--now the Sonys can stream video and music from networked PCs, just like Samsungs and Pioneers.

Sony KDL-XBR9 models

  • Sony KDL-32XBR9 ($TBD)
  • Sony KDL-40XBR9 ($TBD)
  • Sony KDL-46XBR9 ($TBD)
  • Sony KDL-52XBR9 ($TBD)