If you've got $33,000 earmarked for a new television, then Sony's main CES announcement might pique your interest. If you don't, you'll have to wait until the company's February show to hear anything official about the company's 2007 products. Eschewing CES for significant product news is nothing new for the company, but the price point of its new flagship HDTV still represents a certain kind of bravado. At least Sony knows how to capture headlines from the mainstream press.
The $33,000 KDL-70XBR3 (did I mention it costs $33,000?) happens to be a 70-inch flat-panel LCD HDTV with a laundry list of cutting-edge specs, seemingly all couched in the terminology of Sony trademarks. Topping the list is "x.v. Color," which the company carefully explains is its brand name for xvYCC technology. It allows the KDL-70XBR3 to display a wider color gamut, which should actually improve picture quality, but requires xvYCC-enabled content to take full advantage of. As far as I know there isn't any xvYCC content currently available, but with Sony introducing four new xvYCC camcorders at CES, baby footage utilizing the latest Sony products might be lent whole new realms of realism. Seriously, I've heard the first xvYCC-enabled content will come courtesy of video games, presumably on the PlayStation 3.
Of course, the KDL-70XBR3 has 1080p (1920x1080) native resolution, and it adds a 120Hz refresh rate (a.k.a. "Motionflow"), 10-bit color, and an improved LED backlight ("Triluminos" according to the Sony trademark artists). The high refresh rate could help remove judder and blurring in fast-moving images, while the increased color depth could reduce false contouring if the source is also 10-bit. The three HDMI inputs are -compatible.
At the other end of the cost continuum, Sony also announced a "Bravia Internet Video Link that will allow most of its new televisions to access free Internet video content, including high-definition videos, from providers including AOL, Yahoo, and Grouper, as well as Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony BMG Music," according to the press release. The magic comes courtesy of a small module (price, availability not announced) that connects to "most of its new televisions." Hey, at least it's not Sony Connect. No mention is made of the inevitable paid content deals, but I don't expect the company to offer free access to HD-resolution Sony Pictures films anytime soon. The only compatible televisions the company specified are the new S3000 series: the 46-inch KDL-46S3000, the 40-inch KDL-40S3000, and the 32-inch KDL-32S3000, available this spring. I'll scare up details on those sets soon.