Sony Power’s Ahead With Blu Ray But No PS3

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In the USA Sony is powering ahead with the launch of Blu Ray. In Australia we have heard nothing about what Sony plans to do or whether they will launch BluRay at all.

According to Twice Magazine in the USA Sony Electronics will launch their first Blu-ray Disc (BD) player, model BDP-S1, in July at “about a US$1,000. The stand-alone player will feature 1,080p output and will up-scale standard-definition DVD signals to 1,080p. It will also offer BD-Java interactivity upon introduction and the ability to handle uncompressed linear PCM audio signals, as well as all audio formats that are part of the core BD specifications.

The deck, which will offer a high build quality with rigid beam construction, will playback Blu-ray Discs with both 25GB and dual-layer 50GB capacities as well as DVD videos and CDs. The deck will not support Sony’s SACD multichannel music format. Tim Baxter, Sony’s strategic planning senior VP, said the company will use the 1,080p output capability in the Blu-ray Disc player to cross-market new 1,080p-capable BRAVIA LCD TVs and SXRD rear-projection HDTV sets.

It is believed that Sony will attempt to take a leadership position with Blu Ray by introducing extensive global advertising campaigns. Baxter said “Later this year we will be delivering a full HD message to customers,” He also said that Sony plans to increase it’s add spending this year to promote the full HD message, and Blu-ray will be a big part of it. “We are very bullish on BD being the best high-definition solution for the consumer.”

What is not known is whether Sony Australia will follow the US marketing initiatives. Baxter hailed Blu-ray for its “significant and overwhelming industry support,” pointing out that 85 percent of the consumer electronics industry supports BD, and that nearly 90 percent of last year’s DVD sales came from studios that have committed to support the BD format with software. He said top PC companies are supporting the format as well as the makers of the top video game platform.

Baxter said Sony’s computer entertainment unit will roll out its multi-functional PlayStation3 video game console with built-in BD compatibility in time for the 2006 Xmas holiday period in the USA at a price to be announced later. He explained that the PS3’s original April 06 launch target was delayed because the company wanted to build in the latest version of the HDMI specification (v 1.3). The PS3 is not expected in Australia till mid 2007 which could result in Microsoft snaring thousands of sales with the new Xbox 360.

One area where Sony Australia is missing out is in the Media Centre desktop market due to the fact that they don’t sell desktop PC similar to Sony US. This is potentially a big market for Sony as Media Centre PC’s running Viiv start at around $2,500 and if one Company could deliver a premium well designed system it is Sony particularly in they incorporate Blu Ray technology. In the US in June 06 Sony will launch a Vaio RC desktop PC with built-in rewritable BD drive at a $2,300 target price. The PC will be designed to both edit and burn to Blu-ray Discs high-definition images captured by one of Sony’s HD camcorder models. The company also plans to market this year a Vaio notebook with built-in BD rewritable capability.

An after-market internal BD rewritable drive is also planned for later this year at a price to be announced later. The drive will support both 25GB and 50GB recordable media at 2x speed. The drive will burn a full 25GB disc in about 30 minutes and support all DVD recordable formats, including double/dual-layer DVDs and CD-R/RW discs. Starting in April in the USA, Sony will support the PC drives with blank recordable media in the 25GB and later 50GB recordable and rewriteable formats. Discs with 25GB capacities will sell for US$20 each for recordable versions and US$25 for rewriteable versions. The 50GB disks due later will sell for US$48 for recordable versions and $60 for rewriteable versions.

Sony Australia is tipped to launch a new range of Bravia LCD TV’s which so far have been a roaring success for the Company. In the US Sony recently introduced its new S series of BRAVIA LCD TVs in the 26W-inch 32W-inch ($2,000), 40W-inch and 46W-inch screen sizes. All models have fully integrated ATSC tuning and will feature a graphite bezel finish and 1,366 by 768 pixel resolution. Also included this year is a new enhanced digital picture processor

Also introduced were fully integrated LCD TVs in the 32W-inch and 40W-inch screen sizes in the BRAVIA U series. Both models feature a silver bezel finish, 1,366 by 768 resolution new wide-viewing angle technology and redesigned remotes with direct input access.

New 3LCD micro display rear-projections models will be offered in the 55W-inch 50W-inch and new 46W-inch screen sizes. All three feature 1,280 by 720p high-definition resolution, dual HDMI inputs front component input for HDV camcorders and a compact frame design with below-screen mounted speakers.

Later in the year, Sony executives said they plan to introduce additional BRAVIA and SXRD micro display rear-projection sets, including models with full 1,080p resolution. “We plan to bring the best possible visual experience to consumers and 1,080p full HD is the holy grail of picture quality,” said Randy Waynick, senior VP of the home products division for Sony Electronics. “Whether it’s a Blu-ray movie or another HD source, our BRAVIA and Grand WEGA SXRD televisions deliver higher definition than all the rest.” The newly designed SXRD line will offer screen sizes from 50 inches to 70 inches, the company said.

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