Sony has officially announced the TAV-L1, an all-in-one flat-panel TV with a built-in home-theater system and a unique slider design. The television portion of the TAV-L1 is a 32-inch Bravia LCD HDTV--but it's hidden behind a grill that houses a flat-panel speaker system. When the screen remains covered, the product acts as an audio system--the TAV-L1 accepts CDs and SACDs via a built-in, slot-loading disc player. When you're ready to watch a movie, just click a button to have the speaker cover slide down to reveal the TV screen. Pop a DVD into the player and you're off to the cinema, with the speaker's virtual surround effects kicking in. The system boasts dual subwoofers for added bass. A full range of inputs--including multiple S-Video and composite A/V inputs as well as VGA and HDMI--lets you connect a panoply of other devices (video game systems, cable/satellite boxes, and so forth) so you're not limited to just watching DVDs.
Although the company did indeed show the product off at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, we took the appearance of a sliding HDTV with a grain of salt, assuming it was simply a prestige prototype product in the same vein as the mammoth 100-plus-inch plasmas that won't be appearing in the aisle of your local Best Buy any time soon. At the time, Sony was calling it the TAV-32FL2, but the TAV-L1 is essentially the same product.
The TAV-L1 will drop in August for about $4,000, but the company has already taken great strides to make it the iMac of TVs by announcing a variety of colors for the speaker grill--gray, burgundy, green, metallic orange, and silver, in addition to the default black hue in which the product ships. The grill replacements will be available in September for $100 each. While we're curious to get an in-depth look at the product, we're a little bit wary of new TV technology that packs on the bells and whistles to distract from the onscreen picture (see--or rather, don't). Still, we can't deny that the TAV-L1 has a certain wow factor that's been lacking from most products this year--but given the premium that Sony's charging for it, we wouldn't be surprised to see it on MTV's Cribs before we find it in a friend's living room.