We've just had a private tour round Sony's Weybridge HQ and a sneak look at some of the new products heading to the UK in the coming months, including more TVs, Blu-ray home cinema in a box systems and a new wireless GigaJuke music system.
First up is the NAS-S55HDE GigaJuke micro system at £749. It has a built-in 80GB hard drive, DAB radio, wi-fi connectivity, iPod dock, a USB port for connecting portable devices and even sets up its own LAN network so it can stream music to additional client units around the home.
CDs can be ripped to the hard drive in uncompressed linear PCM, MP3 or AAC formats and the HDD can store up to 40,000 songs. If the NAS-S55HDE is connected to the internet, either by Ethernet or wi-fi, it will automatically update song and album titles using the Gracenote database system.
Up to five wireless client units can be run off the main unit, with different music playing on each one. Sony will sell the NAS-S55HDE for £749 with one client unit and an iPod dock. Additional client units will be £249 each.
More after the break
New virtual surround home cinema systemOn the home cinema front, there's a new 2.1 'virtual surround' home cinema in a box system, the £349 DAV-F200. It can upscale DVDs to 1080p, has a USB port on the back, an FM tuner and virtual surround mode. A couple of Blu-ray home cinema in a box systems will follow in the autumn.
There will also be two new Sony multichannel receivers available this year, and we're due to get a technical update on those shortly.
We've already reviewed a couple of Sony's new 'V' and 'W' series LCD flatscreens in the magazine, but next up for release is the E-Series KDL-40E4000 Full HD 'Picture Frame' LCD model which will be available in July for £1400.
It has three HDMI inputs, a 'Picture Frame' mode which enables still images stored within the set to be displayed on the screen when it's not in use, different colour options for the frame surround (white, midnight sky, silver and dark wood), a USB port and Sony's Bravia Engine 2. There will be additional sizes at 26in (£650) and 32in (£1000).
And more Bravia flatscreen TVsThe V4000 series of TVs will be expanded in September with smaller screen sizes in addition to the current 40, 46 and 50in models, and the X-series screens will be replaced with new models in the second half of this year and will include DNLA compatibility.
Sony UK's group product manager for TV, Darren Ambridge, says the company is actively considering launching Freesat TVs, but can't confirm any details just yet. "It will be one of the key things we'll discuss with the engineers in Tokyo very soon," he says.
And he confirms Sony is developing a PAL version of its hi-tech OLED TV screen for launch in 2009. An 11in model is currently on sale in Japan for around $2500, and a larger 17in model is now in development.
OLED technology has a much quicker response time than LCD screens, a higher contrast ratio, and is claimed to reduce power consumption by up to 60 per cent over a conventional LCD.
Last but not least in the new line-up is the RHT-G900 TV stand with integrated 5.1 speaker system. It has built-in amps and speakers to create virtual 5.1 surround sound, an FM tuner, three HDMI inputs and one HDMI output and is designed for 40-42in TVs. It costs £699. A smaller version for 32in screens, the RHT-G500, will be available in September.