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Sony plays up high definition

"We're building an entertainment experience, not just a computing experience," executive says at CES.

LAS VEGAS--Sony executives, announcing a slew of products for 2005 at the Consumer Electronics Show here, focused the spotlight on high-definition technology.

At a Wednesday press conference introducing an array of devices, the electronics maker pointed specifically to high-definition entertainment, including HDTVs and next-generation DVD Blu-ray Disc technology, as key to its business strategy.

"We're building an entertainment experience, not just a computing experience," said Howard Stringer, chief executive of Sony of America. "HD will be a key driver for us."

High definition is a major topic for all electronics makers at this year's CES, as prices for flat-panel televisions fall and the Federal Communications Commission continues to promote the transition to digital television programming and broadcasting.

Manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics and Toshiba announced their intentions to release new plasma and liquid crystal display-based televisions throughout the coming year. Toshiba also said it will release a television using its surface conduction electron emission (SED) display technology in the first quarter of next year, as well as a slim-model cathode ray tube-based TV.

Sony said it would release 14 models of LCD-based televisions throughout the year--more than the total number of new TV models it released last year. The company introduced two high-definition LCD TVs--the 23-inch $1,300 KLV-S23A10 and the 19-inch $1,100 KLV-S19A10--to join the $12,000 46-inch Qualia 005 HDTV. All will be available in the spring.

The company increased the storage of its highest-capacity flash storage card, the Memory Stick Pro, to 4GB. It will be available for $900 in March.

Sony also introduced new Vaio PCs slated to come out later this month. The RA Series desktop and A Series notebook will come with multimedia software to better handle high-definition video. The $2,900 RA desktop will also come with two high-speed read and write speed hard drives to make HD editing easier. The $1,700 A Series notebooks will come with 100GB drives and a 17-inch display.

Sony's $199 RoomLink Network Media Receiver will be available next month on the company's Sonystyle Web site. The RoomLink is a wireless router-like device using the 802.11g and 802.11b Wi-Fi standards. It connects wirelessly enabled devices such as PCs.