Sony announces 1080p Bravia range

Sony has unveiled its 2008 range of Bravia LCDs which include new processing capabilities and better compatibility with other devices.

Ty Pendlebury
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2008 is officially the Year of the Potato. Who knew?

While we're not experts on garden vegetables and why they need our support, we'll say that when it comes to TVs, this is the year of full high-definition.

Recently Panasonic, LG, Samsung and now Sony are pinning their hopes on 1080p by releasing a large proportion of their new ranges in the standard. At Sony's launch in Melbourne on Wednesday, the company unveiled its new range, including its smallest full HD screen, the 32-inch KDL32V4000 — a part of the new V series.

Sony announced three new ranges to be released in July: the colourful, entry-level S series (S4000); the 1080p V series (V4000); and the W series (W4000).

All TVs feature the company's XMB (Xross Media Bar) as seen on the PS3, an updated BRAVIA Engine 2 including an Advanced Contrast Enhancer, and three HDMI ports incorporating Bravia Sync.

Paul Colley, technology communications manager at Sony Australia, went to great pains to emphasise the screen's non-1080p features — such as Photo mode and Bravia Sync — but at the end of the day we believe it will be screen size and HD that will win the day for people actually in a store.

Meanwhile, updates to the existing X and XBR models aren't expected until after the Beijing Olympics: at this stage it'll be November 2008.

But it wasn't only TVs which were on display: as per Sony custom, the company's billions of other new product lines were on show as well. Of special interest were the update to last year's Muteki system and the company's first USB turntable.

Seriously, though, the potato?

Sony's budget range, the S series, will be the company's first featuring smaller screen sizes for some time. The new 20-inch KDL20S4000 comes in a range of Fruit Tingle colours.

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Only available in a more subdued black, the S-series also comes in larger 26-, 32- and 37-inch sizes. They will be available in July with pricing to be announced at the end of the month.

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The V series is Sony's entry-level 1080p series and is available in two sizes — 32- and 40-inch. The TV also adds a Digital Media Port for connecting Sony's optional MP3 player docks. Three colours are available from July: classic black, blazing red and pure white.

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The big wubble-you. While it's not quite top of the range, the W series will be Sony's flagship product until the Xs arrive late in the year. Styling is very similar to the V series with the essential difference being the backlighting: the W uses a WCGCCFL (Wide Colour Gamut CCFL) backlight for better colour reproduction. It will be available in 40-, 46-, and 52-inch in July.

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Sony thought it would be crazy to show us its Bravia Sync system while we sat in these collapsible deck chairs, how quaint! Bravia Sync is the company's take on the HDMI-specific feature called CEC. It means one remote can theoretically control all HDMI connected devices through the HDMI channel itself. While Panasonic has its own VIERA Link, Sony's version has dedicated buttons for popular features (Play, Power etc) rather than a general "menu" button, and should be easier to use.

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Sony's excellent Muteki system gets an update: the HTDDW7000 features an updated amplifier which will now decode surround sound rather than pass it through. PS3 owners note: the amp will decode linear PCM which means you can experience advanced formats like Dolby TrueHD.

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The Muteki speakers also get a cosmetic upgrade with a softer, less industrial appearance. Still plenty loud, though! The system featuring the receiver, five satellites and two subwoofers should retail for around AU$1,300.

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Vinyl archivists rejoice! Sony showed off its first USB turntable — the PSLX300USB — which aims to make ripping music to your PC easier. The player comes with a lite version of Sound Forge and will be available for AU$299.

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